Olympic hockey hero from 1980 ‘miracle’ team reflects on winning gold medal 40 years ago

PITTSBURGH — The Penguins will celebrate the 40th anniversary of Team USA’s Olympic hockey gold medal on Tuesday night.

As part of “Miracle on Ice Night,” 1980 Olympic hockey captain Mike Eruzione and 1980 U.S. Olympic assistant coach (and former Penguins General Manager) Craig Patrick will drop the puck in a pregame ceremony before the Pens host the Tampa Bay Lightning at PPG Paints Arena.

On Tuesday morning, Eruzione sat down with the Pittsburgh media and reflected on the anniversary of that gold medal, and on Pittsburgh’s connection to a significant moment in history.

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“To us it was a hockey game,” Eruzione said, “to a lot of people it was a hockey game. But to a lot more people, I think, it was the political climate that made this event so special, the hostages. The state of our country, where we were at, the threat of a Cold War, gas lines, inflation. As a country we were looking to feel good about something. It happened to be us and of all sports, ice hockey.”

Eruzione had high praise for Patrick and talked about how integral Patrick was to the team’s success, “Herb (Brooks) was always in your face and demanding, and we needed somebody to be the buffer, to be the good cop/bad cop, and Craig was an important part of that, and I think that kind of gets lost in the shuffle.”

Eruzione also pointed out how sports and the world have changed in 40 years: “There was no social media in 1980. It would’ve been crazy.”