DENVER -- The moment pushed an entire sport from the
sideline to center stage and made Americans believe anything was
possible. A quarter century after the Miracle on Ice, however, the
stories being told about hockey aren't nearly so heartwarming.
The players who were part of one of hockey's greatest moments
celebrate the 25th anniversary of their gold-medal victory at the
Lake Placid Olympics, but part of the celebration
included discussion of the sad state of the game today -- with the
NHL in a lockout and the season canceled.
"Perhaps everyone at that level involved in the taffy pull
between owners and players needs to go back 25 years," Jack
O'Callahan, a defenseman on the 1980 team, said during a conference
call with several other players last week. "They need to take a look at the
landscape and be a little more thankful and humble and sit down and
work to bring hockey back."
"It's too bad," forward Rob McClanahan said. "The guys have
had a lot of opportunities, they're making significant amounts of
money. I understand it's less than other sports, but they have to
understand that TV drives the ability to pay players."
In 1980, the United States fielded a team full of amateurs and
the Americans were prohibitive underdogs at the Olympics, where the
Soviet Union brought a squad made up of its most seasoned stars.
The United States' 4-3 victory over the Soviets in the medal round
is still considered one of the greatest upsets in sports. The
Americans defeated Finland two days later to capture the gold
Many of the gold-medal winners went on to successful NHL
"To make it to the NHL was a great feat for those guys,"
goalie Jim Craig said. "I think it helped USA Hockey and the sport
In this era, the United States sends a team of professionals to
compete at the Olympics. But given the number of games being missed
because of the current labor dispute, the NHL might refuse to put
its season on hold next year for the Olympics.
It would force the United States to field another team of
amateurs. Members of the Class of '80 think that might not be such
a bad thing.
"I think if we have a chance to let amateurs play, and let
people play who really want to get there, I'm all for that and I
think it would be great," Craig said.