We picture the members of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team as they were captured in photographs and portrayed in the movie "Miracle," exuberant college kids who stunned the powerful Soviets before winning the gold medal at Lake Placid, N.Y.
Although the moment was frozen, time has marched on. Team captain Mike Eruzione, who scored the winner against the Soviets, is 60 and the grandfather of two, soon to be three. Many of his teammates are grandfathers.
"God, we're old," Eruzione said with a laugh during a phone conversation. "What's even funnier is the letters I get today. They almost always start out, 'Although I wasn't born in 1980...'"
Their story is timeless, the triumph of underdogs whose young legs and resilience allowed them to rally past a machine-like Soviet team and formidable Finland in the finale. This weekend the 19 surviving players will gather in Lake Placid to celebrate the 35th anniversary of a victory that has transcended hockey to symbolize the rewards of hope, diligence and teamwork.
Their reunion will be the highlight of Hockey Weekend Across America, an event that promotes the sport. They will laugh Saturday but also will mourn the absence of gritty defenseman Bob Suter, who died of a heart attack last September. Suter's jersey will be raised to the rafters of the arena, then called the Olympic Fieldhouse and since renamed Herb Brooks Arena for the coach who died in 2003.
"We had a maniac for a coach," Mark Johnson, the team's top scorer, said during a conference call with reporters Monday, "but he knew what he was doing."
The last time all 20 players were together — including the reclusive Mark Pavelich — was at the 2002
Eruzione is the director of special outreach for Boston University and in demand as a motivational speaker. He never played in the NHL but 12 of his Olympic teammates played a total of 6,035 NHL games, according to USA Hockey. Among the most successful were Ken Morrow — who won the first of four consecutive
Eruzione sold his Olympic memorabilia, except his gold medal, after deciding his three children would benefit more from the proceeds than from dusting his old souvenirs. He also made donations to charity and endowed a scholarship in his parents' names at BU.
You'll never find him sitting on bar stool talking about who he used to be. "I was very happy with who I was before the Olympics and there's no reason that I have to change and become something different," he said. "Who is more blessed than I am? We could have lost and nobody would be talking to me and who knows what I'd be doing?"
We know what he'll be doing this weekend: reliving memories alongside teammates who are grayer than they were 35 years ago but will always be his brothers. "It will be fun," he said. "And let's hope we talk again in the 40th year, and the 45th year and the 50th."
Gone too soon
Former teammates remembered
"We were in shock," Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf said of Montador, 35, who played 65 games for the team in 2008-09. "We feel for his family. He was a great guy and it was unexpected to us when we heard the news. ... He was awesome around everybody."
Montador had suffered a debilitating concussion in 2012 and played briefly in Russia before retiring. Rick Westhead of Canada's TSN reported Montador was a plaintiff in a concussion-related lawsuit filed against the NHL
"He had spoken about concussion issues and some depression, especially after being done with hockey. It's a really tough time for some guys to transition to the next phase of their life,"
"Steve was a great teammate. He loved life and was very passionate for whatever he was doing at that time and he had endless amounts of energy to pour into whatever he chose to do."
Montador lived in Southern California for a while and sometimes had coffee with Kings Coach