40 years ago today, if you were alive on February 22, 1980 you probably remember exactly where you were. I do.
I was in a restaurant in Steamboat Springs, CO with my Dad and the place was going crazy. In the bar, on the TV the United States Olympic men's hockey team was taking on the vaunted Soviet Union, unquestionably the best hockey team in the world. The Miracle on Ice was taking place and I'll never forget it. Two days later, driving from Steamboat Springs back to Denver for our flight home, my Dad and I listened on the radio as the United States defeated Finland for Olympic ice hockey gold.
An improbable run, by amateur hockey players lead by one of the best coaches ever, Herb Brooks lifted the spirits of a United States that was in a collective funk. I've had long philosophical conversations with many people of the ensuing 40 years. A friend of mine who is a life long hockey player and on-ice official shares my opinion that this watershed event was far more than a hockey game. It was a Cold War victory that restored the tenacity and focus of this country to emerge from a troubled era to rise to peacetime heights not previously seen throughout history. It was a game, a great game, but it was so much more.
Today, I salute and thank the members of the 1980 men's hockey team, many from New England. After coming through the Vietnam War, Watergate, recession and high inflation, our embassy in Iran had been overrun and our people taking hostage and the ABC News program Nightline was born. Every evening, we were greeting with the grim reality of the number of days in captivity for the embassy hostages. The country was not feeling good about itself, to say the least. Then along came the Lake Placid Olympics and everything changed. It's a memory I will always hold dear.
Many years ago, I had the opportunity to bid on and win an autographed Jim Craig jersey and portrait. Craig, the storied goalie of that Olympic team has symbolized that moment for the last 40 years, along with his teammates. The portrait hangs in our "Man Cave" and the jersey, pictured below, with his signature Jim Craig 1980 Gold autograph sits draped over my home office chair. It makes me smile every day.