Miracle on Ice: Where are They Now?

December 22, 2010

Three days ago the Men’s U.S. Olympic Hockey team got an unexpected win over heavily favored Canada, the first time the Americans have beaten the Canadians in an Olympics since 1960. MSNBC got 8.22 million viewers for the Sunday afternoon broadcast—the second highest total in the network’s history. (Only election night 2008 got more.) Congratulations to the U.S. team, and good luck for the rest of the tournament to both the U.S. and Canada.

The game came just a day short of the 30th anniversary of what is arguably the biggest moment in U.S. sports history, the “Miracle on Ice” that saw the Americans beat the Russians, winner of the gold in the four previous Olympics, on their own way to winning gold at the 1980 games in Lake Placid, New York. In Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Plunges into Minnesota (2006), we covered the “Miracle on Ice” story—and looked into where some of the players and coaches are today. Here’s an excerpt (with updates!):

Where Are They Now?

• Out of the 20 players on the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team, only defenseman Ken Morrow won the NHL’s Stanley Cup. (He won it four times with the New York Islanders, 1980-1983.) He’s currently the Islanders’ head of pro scouting, and lives in Kansas City.
• Left winger and Olympic team captain Mike Eruzione (who scored the winning goal against the Russians) became a television broadcaster for both the New Jersey Devils and the New York Rangers. Today he works for the University of Boston’s athletic department, and he also helps out the high school hockey team in his home in Winthrop, Massachusetts.
• Assistant Coach Craig Patrick went on to work for the Pittsburgh Penguins and helped create the template for a team that won back-to-back Stanley Cups in the early 1990s. In 2005, as Penguins general manager, he was responsible for drafting 18-year-old phenom Sidney Crosby. (Patrick had left the team before they won the Cup in 2009.)
• Forward Mark Johnson had a strong career with five different NHL teams, and today is the head coach for the University of Wisconsin women’s hockey team. (Although he had to take a sabbatical in 2010—to coach the women’s U.S. Olympic hockey team. And they play for the gold against Canada on Thursday!)
• Defenseman Mike Ramsey had one of the most successful NHL careers of all the players, playing 17 years with four teams and being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2001. He is currently an assistant coach with the Minnesota Wild.
• Neal Broten also played 17 years in the NHL, wining the Stanley Cup with the New Jersey Devils in 1995. He currently lives in River Falls, Wisconsin, where he and his wife raise and train horses at the Sally Broten Horse Company.
• Center Mark Pavelich played on and off for the NHL—and in the UK, Germany, and Italy—until 1992. He lives in a cabin on a small lake in northern Wisconsin with his wife and their dog.
• Goalie Jim Craig lives in Massachusetts and is a renowned sales and marketing coach, as well as a motivational speaker. He regularly travels the country giving advice to workers at such companies as Coca-Cola, Dunkin’ Donuts, GE, Merrill Lynch, Time Inc., and Walt Disney.
• Dave Christian, Jack O’Callahan, Steve Christoff, Rob McClanahan, Dave Silk, and Bill Baker all also went on to play in the NHL.
After the Lake Placid games, coach Herb Brooks coached the New York Rangers (1981–1985), where he reached the 100-victory mark faster than any other coach in franchise history. He also coached the Minnesota North Stars (1987–1989), the New Jersey Devils (1992–1993), and the Pittsburgh Penguins (1999–2000). He headed the French Olympic team at the 1998 Nagano games, and returned to lead the U.S. Olympic hockey team to a silver medal in 2002 in Salt Lake City. Brooks died in 2003 in a single car accident in Minnesota, but the legacy of his achievement lives on in the state. In 2003 his hometown of Saint Paul erected a statue in his honor outside the Rivercentre Convention Center, and, in 2006, Herb Brooks was inducted into the Olympic Hall of Fame.