#42 Miracle on Ice

SSOMG has another confession to make. 

I have yet to watch an entire NHL Hockey game on TV.  Please don’t mention this to any of my Canadian friends; or even those from the eastern part of the United States.

Let’s also admit that in 1999, Sports Illustrated, named the Miracle on Ice the top sports moment of the 20th Century.  I am told they know something about the subject.  I was not asked to vote, nor do I know anyone else who voted.  Perhaps they only asked snow-bound Americans to vote.

At any rate, I do remember Al Michael’s iconic moment and his uttering of the famous question “do you believe in miracles”, just prior to the final ticking seconds of the USA Men’s Hockey victory over the mostly-professional and highly experienced Team Russia in the 1980 Winter Olympic Games. 

Since that moment occurred almost 40 years ago, it is hard for me to remember if I was actually watching the game, or have just seen the replay so many times that I actually think I may have been AT the game.

Chances are probably good that I watched it live…knowing what a fan I am.

Ok.  So, I can tell you for sure that Larry Sherry was the MVP of the 1959 World Series (60+ years ago), winning two of the games and saving the other two, but I can tell you for sure I have no idea who was on that US Hockey team.  I am thinking about writing a “where are they now” sequel on the stars, but not sure anyone knows where they are now.

The background for this moment, in case you have been living in a cave in Montana for the last 40 years, is that the Russians brought a crew to Lake Placid for the 1980 games that basically had already been awarded the Gold Medal, but needed to complete the details of actually winning the games; heavily favored I believe was the term used over and over.  These guys had about as much experience in international hockey championships as you could possibly ever hope for.

At the same time, the US team was fielding a mostly undergraduate college crew who had experienced little international competition and had even less success.  I guess their advantage in 1980 was that they were skating on their home ice in upstate New York.  To me, it has always seemed like ice is ice; just too cold no matter where you find it.  Besides, who considers it an advantage to be anywhere in upstate New York in the winter time, other than the polar bears and ice-fish who call it home?

So, boiling it all down (bad phraseology for a hockey story?) the real winner and most famous individual to emerge from the 1980 Gold Medal game was none other than the guy at the microphone…Al Michaels.  For Al, he admits, this was his career moment.  It was only the second hockey game he had ever announced.  Fortunately for him, the home team won.  Fortunately for him, TV ratings later showed that it was the most watched ice hockey game in history of American TV.   See, I must have seen that game live!  Folks remembered Al Michaels after that.

As you know, Al has gone on to have one of the great announcing careers of all time.  Although his sports casts preceded the Miracle, his great fame followed quickly thereafter with enough awards and honors and highlights to fill an ice bucket.

The 2022 Winter Olympics is in Beijing China, starting February 4th.  I am not sure that Al will be there in the broadcast booth.  Al is now 76 years old.  SSOMG hopes he is there, behind the mike…in position to ask us all once again about our enduring belief in miracles…and of course we can answer, Yes Al, we do believe….

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