GLENDALE, Ariz. – Neal Broten, Mike Eruzione and Buzz Schneider sat at a table telling stories, reliving their magical Olympic run, making everyone, including themselves, laugh.
The members of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team haven’t gotten together much since pulling off one of the greatest upsets in sports history, so it’s always a blast whenever they do.
“This is kind of fun,” Eruzione said at Jobing.com Arena. “It’s great for us to get together because we have a bond and a friendship and a love that we’ll always have for each other. It’s just hard to get 20 guys together, but when we do, it’s fun. We’re like little kids, we’re very immature.”
The Phoenix Coyotes honoured the Miracle on Ice team before their game against the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday night, capping two days of celebrations designed as a send-off to the Sochi Olympics.
Ten members of the team were introduced on the ice before the game, with a chant of “USA! USA! ” breaking out after Eruzione, who had the winning goal against the Soviet Union, was introduced. Olympians from the Coyotes and Blackhawks also were introduced individually.
The entire 1980 team has been together just twice since winning the gold at the 1980 Olympics: The 2002 NHL All-Star game in Los Angeles and a year later when their coach, Herb Brooks, died.
Since then, they’ve only been able to get together in smaller groups and had never been honoured by an NHL team before.
“We feel really honoured to be here for a couple of days to be a part of this event,” Broten said.
The 1980 team became arguably the most popular team in American sports history after upsetting the seemingly-unbeatable Soviet Union, a game known as the Miracle on Ice, then beating Finland to win the gold medal at the Lake Placid Games.
Their accomplishment still resonates with Americans today, long after the Cold War ended.
“It meant something to the country, but we didn’t know that at the time,” Eruzione said. “After the games, we realized and 34 years later I still get letters and talk to people who come up to me and everyone has a story to tell, (saying) I remember where I was when we won. We? I didn’t know you were on the team, yet that’s what it was like and that’s what makes the Olympics so special because it’s a nation that feels a part of it and in 1980, clearly the nation felt a part of it.”