Ask Eddie questions about the 1980s ... fashion, television, movies, sports, events ... cause he's got the answers. Send your questions to [email protected]. Due to the volume of questions he receives, Eddie cannot answer all questions or reply via personal e-mail. Answers are new every Friday!
Read past Ask Eddies:
I don't know if you would know, but who scored the game-winning goal in 1980 in the "miracle on ice" olympic game in which the US defeated the soviets? Thanks!
How about the roster for the 1980 Russian (CCCP) hockey team?
"Eleven seconds, you got ten seconds, the countdown going on right now. Five seconds left in the game, do you believe in miracles? Yes!" -- Al Michaels.
It was just a hockey game, right? Wrong. The 1980s Olympic match up of the USSR and US hockey teams was actually a Cold War, fought over a puck.
In February 1980, relations between East and West were in a deep freeze ... especially after the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviets only three months before. The United States had already set a February deadline for the Soviets to withdraw ... their punishment would be that the US would boycott the Summer Games in Moscow. A pall fell over the Winter Games ... and everyone wondered what would happen with so much international political tension.
Politics is part of the reason why the game was more than a game. But the other part that made it an important showoff was the quality of the players. America had always maintained throughout the Cold War that the Soviets were the bad guys who played dirty. Nowhere was that more evident than with the way they brought athletes to the Olympics. While most nations sent their amateur athletes, the countries within the Soviet Bloc were using their athletes as statements of their superiority. They gave the athletes "jobs" in their armed forces, and then had them spend the rest of their lives honing their skills. In East Germany it was recently proved that the women athletes were fed steroids without the athelete's knowledge or consent. The Olympics don't allow steroid use ... but the Soviets found a way around it. It was a matter of pride, it was a show of superiority, it meant a hell of a lot to their governments and national pride.
In 1980, NHL participation in the Olympics was years away and many top players were hidden behind the Iron Curtain, emerging only to play for the pride of their countries. The Soviets, led by Hall of Fame goaltender Vladislav Tretiak, were widely considered the world's best team and regularly defeated top NHL teams during exhibition tours. All of its members were soldiers in the Red Army. They were only technically amateurs, but it was a hair-of-their-chinny-chin-chin technicality ... these guys were truly pros.
Everyone knew what the Soviets were doing, especially the coach of the American team, Herb Brooks. "The Soviets were the best in the world," he said. "And we had to figure out a way to beat them."
Brooks was a former U.S. Olympic player (1964,68) who coached Minnesota to 3 NCAA titles (1974,76,78). His team was one of a few whose players were ranked amateurs -- half from a single state, Minnesota, where Brooks coached. America's kids looked badly overmatched. And, sadly, they really were not as good as the Soviets, as was proven by their 10-3 loss in Madison Square Garden two weeks before the games began.
So it was more than a game. It was a metaphor for the entire Cold War ... the guys who cheat by stepping all over the rules were facing a bunch of guys who were so naive that they left their wallets sitting out on dressers in rooms that were left unlocked. Fresh-faced, just off the farm's frozen pond where they played hockey for the love of the game, not for the love of the Fatherland!
What was Brooks to do? The team was full of a bunch of American college kids that Brooks had assembled a few months before the Olympics. To this day, Brooks' motivational tactics are recalled by his players as the single biggest reason for their success. Many didn't realize it, but Brooks had hand-picked each one, discarding many prospects after administering a 300-question personality test that didn't mention hockey. None had a national identity before the Olympics, but the talent was there: Broten, Jim Craig, Mark Johnson, Dave Silk, Phil Verchota, Mike Ramsey, Ken Morrow.
Brooks was ahead of his time in 1980, not only understanding the then-foreign, fluid, never-waste-energy European style but introducing it to his own team. Now, one-third of all NHL players are European, and the league will soon get its first European coach. "I don't know if we'll ever see anything like it again," Brooks said.
He didn't tell his 1980 team of college athletes how good they were during their entire training period. In fact, part of his training was turning them into a team, which meant he had to turn them all against him. The only way to bring together the Minnesota and Massachussettes players (farm kids v. city kids) was to make them all hate him. No one felt safe on the team ... he threatened dismissal to even the best players, telling them they weren't any good.
The tactic worked, because when this team who didn't have a prayer in the world arrived at the Olympics, they started showing people that they had written them off way too soon. The Americans were a decided underdog ... seeded seventh out of 12 teams in the first round. The United States earned a hard-fought tie with Sweden, and scored a stunning 7-3 victory over a strong Czech team. The U.S. amateurs gained confidence and momentum with victories over Norway, Romania and West Germany. The Americans reached the final round with a 4-0-1 record.
The Soviet game was played on Feb. 22, 1980. This was the moment. With their crushing defeat by the Soviets a few weeks before hanging over their head, they sat in their locker room and heard from their coach the words that he purposefully held back from them until now: "You were born to be a player. You were meant to be here."
"He was and is a master motivator," said Craig Patrick, the Penguins general manager and Brooks' assistant coach in 1980.
A key element to the superiority of the Soviet team was the incredible goalie, Vladislav Tretiak.
Vladislav Tretiak is considered by many to be not only the greatest European goalie of all time, but perhaps the greatest goalie of all time, including NHL netminders.
Born April 25, 1952, in Moscow, Tretiak first played hockey at age 11 with the Children's Sports School of the Soviet Red Army Club in Moscow. By the age of 15, his outstanding skills were recognized by Soviet hockey authorities, who allowed him to practice with the Central Red Army senior club for the two years prior to his appointment to the roster at age 17. From that point on, Tretiak never relinquished his position as the outstanding player in the Soviet Union, and arguably, in Europe. He was 14 consecutive times the first all-star team goalie from 1971-1984, was a member of 13 Soviet Elite League championship teams, and five times was selected as the outstanding player in the Soviet Union.
In North America, his performances were equally remarkable. Tretiak's play in 1972, was instrumental in changing North American perceptions of the strength of the Soviet game. In 1975, in what many regard as one of the finest hockey matches every played, Tretiak held the Montreal Canadiens to a 3-3 tie, in spite of the powerful Canadiens outshooting the Soviets 38-13. In the 1981 Canada Cup series he allowed eight goals in six games for a 1.33 average and was named the series MVP and first all-star team goalie. In 1982 he shut out the Montreal Canadiens 5-0, stopping 20 shots for the Soviet All-Stars.
On the International scene, Tretiak backstopped his national team to 10 world championships and 3 Olympic Gold Medals, 9 European titles, and in 98 world championship games he registered a stunning 1.78 goals-against average. Throughout his 15-year career Tretiak dominated his part of the hockey world, winning the Gold Stick award as the outstanding player in Europe three consecutive times, from 1981 to 1983, before retiring in 1985. He played 16 international seasons from 1969 to 1985.
One of the greatest ambassadors of Soviet hockey, Vladislav Tretiak remains a popular and well respected spokesman around the world. He was the first Soviet born-and-bred player to be elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame (1989). Tretiak was selected by the Montreal Canadiens in the National Hockey League's (NHL's) 1983 entry draft ... the Soviet Ice Hockey Federation, however, refused to grant his release, and Tretiak never played in the NHL. He retired from competition in 1984, though he remained involved in the sport, writing books on goaltending and holding instructional camps. From 1990 he was the goaltender coach and consultant for the NHL's Chicago Blackhawks, and he authored the autobiogaphy, "Tretiak : The Legend" (he has a healthy ego, no?).
International Career: Played for the USSR in 13 World Championships 1970-84, the 1972, 1976, 1980 & 1984 Olympics, the 1972 Summit Series and in 1974 against Canada (WHA All-Stars).
Club Career: Played for CSKA Moscow 1969-84
Medals: Won Olympic gold in 1972, 1976 & 1984.
Won World Championship gold in 1970, 1971, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1978, 1979, 1981, 1982 & 1983.
Won Olympic silver in 1980.
Won the Soviet League in 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983 & 1984.
Honors: Elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1989.
Elected to the IIHF Hall of Fame in 1997.
World Championship Best Goalkeeper Award 1974, 1979 & 1983.
European Championship Best Goalkeeper Award 1974, 1979 & 1983.
Canada Cup MVP in 1981.
World Championship All-Star goalie 1975, 1979 & 1983.
Canada Cup All-Star goalie in 1981.
The game was a hot one, but the key moment that led to the defeat of the Soviets was when the coach in all his cocky glory yanked famed goalie Vladislav Tretiak from the game after the first period. The Soviet goal was then tended by goalie Vladimir Myshkin, who lost his balance when the US Team Captain Mike Eruzione slammed the puck into the net in the third period (who can forget how Myshkin had to catch himself with the cross bar in disgust)? Vladislav Tretiak is considered by many to be not only the greatest European goalie of all time, but perhaps the greatest goalie of all time, including NHL netminders ... taking him out of the game for no other reason than hubris was a very very bad move.
But more than bad decisions on the part of the Soviet coach led to the American win. Our own goalie, Jim Craig, made 39 saves during the game! Indeed, he kept the U.S. alive.
The game was a dramatic showdown, and when the seconds were ticking down, the crowd lost their mind. America won 4-3 ... joyous bedlam ensued, and the United States earned a trip to the gold medal game with Finland, which it won two days later. That game had some wonderful moments too, and some great Olympic moments, including the fact that one of the leaders of the 1960 Olympic gold-medal winning comeback against the Soviet Union was Billy Christian, and 20 years later it was his son, David, who sparked the decisive rally against the Finns in a 4-2 battle to win the Gold Medal.
U.S. coach Herb Brooks, the maestro of the Miracle On Ice, doesn't recall his exact thoughts 20 years ago when his unknown collegians didn't squander their moment of moments, but seized it with one of the greatest upsets in sports. What he remembers is this: When destiny knocked, an entire country answered. "I don't know if I ever fully understood the magnitude of the Olympics, the historical significance until December (2000), when they said it was the top sports moment of the century," Brooks said. "I just said, `Wow.' I don't know if we'll ever see anything like it again."
Brooks was drafted by the NHL in 1981, reaching 100 wins faster than any coach in New York Rangers' history but losing three successive playoff series to the powerful New York Islanders. He later coached the Minnesota North Stars and, after several years as a sportscaster and salesman, the New Jersey Devils. He was a Penguins scout for five years until replacing the fired Kevin Constantine in December 1999, though it was clear this appointment was only temporary.
Although the team captain, Mike Eruzione, was the only one who got to stand on the podium to wear the medal and watch his flag fly higher than everyone else, he called all the boys to join him when the songs were over. It was noted that the second miracle of the 1980 Winter Olympics was how all those men were able to fit on that small podium ... but they did it together, and that was the point.
The teammates didn't all head off to the NHL together, though. Eruzione said he'd never play hockey again; this was the pinnacle of his career. Others went on to have lackluster professional hockey careers, and a few went on to have long NHL careers, including Ken Morrow, Neal Broten and Mark Johnson
GOLD - USA Olympic Team: Mike Eruzione (team captain who scored winning goal in the USSR v US competition), James Craig, Steve Janaszak; Bill Baker, Dave Christian, Ken Morrow, Jack O'Callahan, Mike Ramsey, Bob Suter; Neal Broten, Steve Christoff, John Harrington, Mark Johnson, Rob McClanahan, Mark Pavelich, Buzz Schneider, Dave Silk, Eric Strobel, Phil Verchota, Mark Wells. Head coach : Herb Brooks. Assistant coach : Craig Patrick.
SILVER - USSR Olympic Team: Vladimir Myshkin, Vladislav Tretiak, Vyacheslav Fetisov, Vasily Pervukhin, Valery Vasilyev, Aleksei Kasatonov, Sergei Starikov, Zinetula Bilyaletdinov, Vladimir Krutov, Aleksandr Maltsev, Yuri Lebedev, Boris Mikhailov, Vladimir Petrov, Valery Kharlamov, Helmuts Balderis, Viktor Zlukov, Aleksandr Golikov, Sergei Makarov, Vladimir Golikov, Aleksandr Skvortsov
BRONZE - Sweden's Olympic Team: Per-Eric Pelle Lindbergh, William Lofqvist, Tomas Jonsson, Sture Andersson, Ulf Weinstock, Jan Eriksson, Tommy Samuelsson, Mats Waltin, Thomas Eriksson, Per Lundqvist, Mats Ahlberg, Hakan Eriksson, Mats Naslund, Lennart Norberg, Bengt Lundholm, Leif Holmgren, Dan Soderstrom, Harald Luckner, Lars Mohlin, Bo Berglund
|OLYMPIC HOCKEY WINNERS, year by year
1920 Canada - USA - Czechoslovakia : (Antwerp)
1924 Canada - USA - Great Britain : (Chamonix)
1928 Canada - Sweden - Switzerland (St Moritz)
1932 Canada - USA - Germany : (Lake Placid)
1936 Great Britain - Canada - USA : (Garmisch-Partenkirchen)
1948 Canada - Czechoslovakia - Switzerland : (St Moritz)
1952 Canada - USA - Sweden : (Oslo)
1956 USSR - USA - Canada : (Cortina d'Ampezzo)
1960 USA - Canada - USSR : (Squaw Valley)
1964 USSR - Sweden - Czechoslovakia : (Innsbruck)
1968 USSR - Czechoslovakia - Canada : (Grenoble)
1972 USSR - USA - Czechoslovakia : (Sapporo)
1976 USSR - Czechoslovakia - West Germany : (Innsbruck)
1980 USA - USSR - Sweden : (Lake Placid)
1984 USSR - Czechoslovakia - Sweden : (Sarajevo)
1988 USSR - Finland - Sweden : (Calgary)
1992 Unified Team - Canada - Czechoslovakia : (Meribel)
1994 Sweden - Canada - Finland : (Lillehammer)
1998 Czech Republic - Russia - Finland : (Nagano)