The Phoenix Coyotes may have had a little extra inspiration to push them to a 2-0 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday. Before the game, 10 members of the 1980 US Olympic hockey team were honored before the game and dropped the puck for the ceremonial opening faceoff.
Team captain Mike Eruzione, who scored the game-winning goal against the Soviets in the game now known as the Miracle on Ice, dropped the puck and got the biggest cheers. He was joined by teammates Neal Broten, Steve Janaszak, Rob McClanahan, Ken Morrow, Buzz Schneider, Dave Silk, Bob Suter, Phil Verchota and Mark Wells.
As the players passed the bench, American Keith Yandle looked especially excited to see these US hockey icons, shaking each of their hands as they walked by while most of the other players offered fist bumps. Seeing that makes you feel kind of bad Yandle didn't make the US Olympic team this year.
The Coyotes did this to help send off their Olympians, including Mike Smith (Canada), Martin Hanzal (Czech Republic), Lauri Korpikoski (Finland), Zbynek Michalek (Czech Republic) and Oliver Ekman-Larsson (Sweden). The Blackhawks also had their 10 Olympians honored, though Team USA's only representative, Patrick Kane, was not at the game as he was attending the funeral for his late grandfather.
"This is kind of fun," Eruzione told reporters in a pregame news conference. "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."
The Miracle players all wore the jerseys that have become iconic in American history and it was pretty nice to see a mostly full Jobing.com Arena there to welcome them. It was definitely a special night in Glendale.
As emcee Todd Walsh noted, there may not be hockey in Arizona if not for the foundation set by the 1980 team. That gold medal victory indeed played a rather large role in hockey's popularity in the United States and it has grown immensely in the years since.