Monday, February 22, 2010
Olympic upset, yes. Miracle, no way.
Thirty years ago today in the winter wonderland that is Lake Placid, we believed in miracles as a rag-tag group of college hockey players catapulted the United States to an Olympic victory of seismic proportions against professional hockey players from the Soviet Union. It was an incredible pick-me-up moment for beleaguered Americans, who were reeling from a bad economy and series of global setbacks that had us wondering about our future. Given the circumstances and its transcendent impact, the 1980 Miracle on Ice is my choice for the top sports moment of all-time.
I thoroughly enjoyed watching the USA’s 5-3 victory against gold-medal favorite Canada last night. The game was played with a Stanley Cup Finals level of intensity and passion that was evident even to the casual hockey observer. But I was irked by the many comparisons made between this upset and the one by the Americans against the Soviets three decades earlier.
The lazy columnists and commentators who made the analogy need to study up on their history. The chasm between the talent and experience of the teams in 1980 was as wide as the Grand Canyon. The gap between this year’s Canadian and U.S. hockey teams is not huge.
The Americans’ victory in Vancouver was an upset, but nowhere near to being a miracle. A little perspective, please.
If the U.S. goes on to win the gold, Chris Drury will have another trinket to add to an already interesting sports trophy case. The former Buffalo Sabres star certainly would become the first person ever to have won a Little League World Series, an NCAA hockey championship, a Stanley Cup and an Olympic gold medal. And, while we’re on the subject of Drury, I still wish the Sabres hadn’t let him get away.
So how do you explain the Olympic scoring outburst of U.S. defenseman Brian Rafalski, who has four goals in three games during this tournament compared with four goals in 57 games during this NHL season?
Did you notice that Syracuse’s free-throw shooting was the difference in that narrow victory against Georgetown last week? By the way, the last time the Orange men swept the Hoyas in the regular season they won the national championship. And you have to love the fact that SU is unbeaten on the road, including 5-0 vs. ranked teams. That bodes well for the tournament.
Happy 278th birthday to the original George W. – George Washington.
And congratulations to friends Jim and Kerri Mandelaro on the birth of their daughter Sophia Hayden Mandelaro at 3:53 this morning. The population of Red Sox Nation just increased by one.