Dateline 2030

Fans and USA hockey team members react to the 4-2 win over Finland during the Olympic games in Lake Placid, N.Y. on Feb. 24, 1980. (AP Photo)
Fans and USA hockey team members react to the 4-2 win over Finland during the Olympic games in Lake Placid, N.Y. on Feb. 24, 1980. (AP Photo)

I can hear the question, asked by some well-meaning reporter in the Year 2030:

“So Dave, it’s been fifty years since the miracle in Lake Placid. What were you thinking as you approached the big game with the vaunted Soviet Union?”

My live-in nursemaid, Evushka, says, “I’m sorry but you will have to speak up. Mr. Silk’s hearing is spotty at best and he refuses to wear his earpiece.”

And then I say, “No. No, I heard the man…. Okay, I’m gonna tell you but for the last time….Evey, bring me a glass of vodka- four fingers, this way,” as I tilt my hand in a north-to-south direction. And then I continue.

“Look, everybody has been scared to tell the truth because we are all scared that we will ruin a good story…. This is how it really was…..

We were a college all-star team. Some guys, as you would expect, went on to have great careers in the pros while others went about living good and prosperous lives away from hockey.  The “miracle” thing? Hell yeah, it was an upset of unbelievable proportions — but that possibility is what sports are all about — and hockey, by virtue of the fact that will, grit and determination — not to mention clutch goaltending (thanks, Jim Craig)  can trump skill in a one-game series at any time.

A lot of things came together for us… a home crowd, momentum, a lethargic Soviet team and a guy named Mark Johnson who basically carried us on his shoulders for two weeks. But you know what? Sweden, Canada and the Finns could’ve knocked off the Soviets that night — they were really that ripe….

It was a hockey game, and I consider Al Michael’s call, ‘do you believe in MIRACLES? YES!’ to be the real impetus behind elevating the game to biblical status.

I would rather people consider the 1980 gold medal not as a legend but as a benchmark in US hockey.

Now don’t get me wrong, it changed each and every one of our lives for the better, and I know that I am grateful for all of the ways that “The Miracle” has benefited my life. But frankly, I think the story has jumped the shark. I mean c’mon, how long is Eruzione gonna keep telling sales teams about how they can replicate our standard of excellence? He’s freakin’ 100 yrs old!

What’s my everlasting impression of 1980? That’s simple: we helped grow the game of ice hockey in the USA.  Movies about The Mighty Ducks and NHL teams in Texas, Florida and Arizona? Unheard of prior to Lake Placid. So I think the real accomplishment was this: we were pioneers, not heroes. And that’s just fine. We took a sport that we loved, played as long as we could and left it in better shape than we found it.

Now if you’ll excuse me, all this talking has made me tired. I need a nap…come, my little Evushka….”

Guest commentator Dave Silk was a member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team.

This program aired on February 26, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.


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