1980 U.S.A. Team Helps Coyotes Send 2014 Olympians off to Sochi Before Friday's Game
GLENDALE – A sellout crowd chanted U-S-A! over and over on Friday night as members of the gold-medal winning 1980 United States men’s hockey team took center ice for a pre-game ceremony to help send off the 2014 Olympians playing in the Coyotes vs. Blackhawks game at Jobing.com Arena.Former U.S. captain Mike Eruzione dropped the ceremonial first puck to cap the 15-minute ceremony, which featured highlights from the “Miracle on Ice” game vs. the U.S.S.R. and introductions of the 15 current NHL players who will head to Sochi for this year’s Games on Sunday.
Eruzione, Neal Broten and Buzz Schneider fielded questions before the game at a formal press conference.
"This is kind of fun," Eruzione said. "It's great for us to get together because we have a bond and a friendship and a love that we'll always have for each other. It's just hard to get 20 guys together, but when we do, it's fun. We're like little kids, we're very immature."
Five Coyotes – Oliver Ekman-Larsson (Sweden), Martin Hanzal (Czech Republic), Lauri Korpikoski (Finland), Zbynek Michalek (Czech Republic) and Mike Smith (Canada) will represent their countries in Olympic competition starting next week. Ten members of the Blackhawks are headed to Sochi too.
The 1980 Olympians also were introduced individually, in the following order: Broten, Steve Janaszak, Rob McLanahan, Morrow, Schneider, Dave Silk, Bob Suter, Phil Verchota, Mark Wells, and Eruzione.
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The 1980 Olympians don't get together very often. Friday's event meant something to those of them who attended. And their triumph in 1980 meant something to Americans.
"It meant something to the country, but we didn't know that at the time," Eruzione said. "After the games, we realized and 34 years later I still get letters and talk to people who come up to me and everyone has a story to tell, (saying) I remember where I was when we won. We? I didn't know you were on the team, yet that's what it was like and that's what makes the Olympics so special because it's a nation that feels a part of it and in 1980. Clearly the nation felt a part of it."
Six different players in Coyotes/Jets history have represented Team USA at the Olympics, including Dave Christian in 1980, who posted eight assists in seven games with the gold-medal winning squad. He was not able to attend Friday’s ceremony.
Watch: 2014 Olympians Honored
Watch: Puck Drop
Watch: Press Conference