Do You Believe?

•  Can you believe it was 40 years ago?

  Revisit The Miracle on Ice this week

  Here’s a complimentary Miracle Media Guide

I often claim I can turn anyone into a hockey fan by taking them to a college or pro game, sitting them in the right place – where they can see, hear and “feel” the game – and explaining the seemingly arcane but really simple rules of icing and offsides. The game on TV won’t do it.

I’ll claim right here that I can get you interested all over again in what happened in Lake Placid forty years ago this week without getting you out of your house. Just stream or watch on demand Miracle, the 2004 film starring Kurt Russell as Herb Brooks, the miracle-maker.

As supportive as she is of my hockey obsession, my significant other will tell you she wasn’t terribly excited when I suggested we watch my DVD of Miracle last year. She will tell you, though, she thoroughly and genuinely enjoyed it. And I believe her.

My televised “review” of the film can be watched here: The Old College Try. 

Here’s my account of seeing Team USA in action, in person, in Lake Placid, two days before they upset the Soviet Union: Philadelphia Pt. 1

USA vs. West Germany. Taken with Nikkormat SLR, 100mm telephoto

Now, for hockey fans, I submit that true understanding of this historic event requires the perspective gleaned from two documentaries about what it felt like to be on the losing side:

A fascinating history of Russian hockey which can be viewed on Amazon Prime: Red Army

A look back through the eyes of Russian star Slava Fetisov, who returns to Lake Placed for the first time since the ignominious loss can be found in Of Miracles and Men, which can be streamed as one of ESPN’s 30 for 30. 

If you’re only going to watch one, the 30 for 30 is the one. Wait until you see what Fetisov’s daughter does when they get to Lake Placid!

And here, for the first time anywhere (as this type of hype goes), are some very amateurish photos I took

from a vantage point behind the world’s best goalie at the time, Vladimir Tretiak. This was at the 1976 Canada Cup of Hockey series in Maple Leaf Gardens (note ticket price). Tretiak was turning aside the best Canadian players of that generation. Four years later, at Lake Placid, Tretiak would be pulled from the USA-Soviet Union game after a 2-2 first period.

Bobby Hull and Phil Esposito buzzing around the net
Bobby Clarke screening Tretiak
Canada’s goalie Rogie Vachon and Denis Potvin facing down a Soviet threat

Trivia: The cover of Sports Illustrated, for the first time, had no text, on March 3, 1980:

Only 2 other SI covers had no text: August 21, 1995 – Mickey Mantle dies and April 22, 2018 – Tiger Woods wins Masters for fifth time

In 1980, with cell phones just a Dick Tracy dream, this is what passed for a hand-held reference work. A kind of analog pocket Wikipedia:

Can’t tell the players without a program:

In this program, Ice Hockey was the last of the articles under Outlook For 1980 Gold Medalists. Of the Soviet Union, it read, “There is no reason to doubt that they once again will be battling for the gold medal. Canada, which has not won a world crown since 1961, and Sweden also should be in the medal chase, with the U.S., West Germany and Finland another step back.”

Also in the above program was an item about “ABC – The Olympic Network.” It mentioned, and showed photographs of Roone Arledge, news and sports president and some announcers like Jim McKay and Dick Button. No photograph of Al Michaels, who stamped these Winter Olympics indelibly with, “Do you believe in miracles? YES!”


5 thoughts on “Do You Believe?

  1. Another fantastic post. Those ’76 shots are great! The Philadelphia Flyers beat Tretiak and the Red Army eight months earlier–the only NHL team to do so.

      1. WOW! You’re (still) my hero. But Clarkie is a pretty close second. You have the best stories.

  2. The Phantom Host

    Um, I think you left out that even though the ticket price in 1976 was minuscule you got it free from me. I got them from Pie.

    Please excuse all typos Sent by Huckleberry’s iPhone 11Pro


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