10 interesting facts you may not know about the Miracle on Ice

The following is an excerpt from an article published at SI.com:

10. The game was not broadcast live. Well, that’s not exactly right… it was broadcast live on Canadian TV, so a few people up near the border saw it live. But most of the country — almost all of the country, really — saw it on tape delay, in prime time. The game had ended less than an hour before it was broadcast.

9. There was one celebrity in the crowd — or at least only one celebrity that the ABC cameras showed. That was: Jamie Farr. (For those too young to remember, he played Klinger on M*A*S*H.) “Jamie Farr was definitely the biggest celebrity I saw in the crowd,” Michaels says. The interesting thing is that the ABC cameras focused on Farr for a good 10-20 seconds, but never said who he was or why the cameras were locked in on him. He was that famous.

8. You may know that Michaels called the game with former Montreal Canadiens goalie Ken Dryden. You may not know that the day before the game — the day before — Dryden has a car service drive him up to Toronto where he took the Canadian bar exam. And he passed. Yeah that’s right. Ken Dryden passed the bar one day before the Miracle on Ice.

7. Michaels got the job as broadcaster of Olympic hockey because he was the only announcer in the ABC rotation who had ever called a hockey game. The interesting thing: He had called exactly one game. And that one game was the 1972 hockey game between the USSR and Czechoslovakia in Sapporo, Japan. He actually was working for NBC at the time. The Soviets won 5-2 and won gold. And the only reason Michaels called THAT game is because he grew up a hockey fan, and nobody else wanted to do it.

6. Eric Heiden won five gold medals at the 1980 Olympics* (and later became a doctor, and is now team physician for the U.S. speed skating team). But even as the biggest star of the Games, he could not get a ticket for the U.S.-Soviet hockey game. So ABC had him sit behind Michaels and Dryden on a little platform. He could not see very well, but he was in the building, which apparently is all he wanted. And Michaels has this classic image after the U.S. won the game of turning around and seeing the joy on Eric Heiden’s face.

5. The U.S., famously, got a cheap goal with one second left in the first period, when the legendary Vladislav Tretiak gave up a terrible rebound and U.S. center Mark Johnson jammed home the puck. That goal did more than just tie the game 2-2. It so enraged Soviet coach Viktor Tikhonov that he immediately pulled Tretiak. And when he pulled Tretiak, it had a huge impact on the U.S. hopes. “We were in awe of Tretiak,” U.S. captain Mike Eruzione said.

4. Ken Morrow was the glue for the 1980 team… a stay-at-home defenseman who cleared the puck and steadied the ship and so on. You know that as soon as he and the 1980 Olympic team won gold, Morrow went to play for the New York Islanders. And… the Islanders won Stanley Cup. In fact, the Islanders won the next four Stanley Cups. I’ve gotten to know Morrow just a little bit — he lives in Kansas City — and he is one of the great guys in the world. He will talk about what a charmed life he has led.

3. The memory, of course, is of the U.S. crowd going absolutely crazy. You will hear people say that was one of the loudest buildings in the history of American sports. And, at the end, it definitively was loud. But the truth is that for most of the game the crowd was actually quite quiet. In fact, there’s a moment in the third period where Michaels says: “Now, finally, the crowd comes alive.”

2. Michaels says that if he had thought up his famous line earlier — “Do you believe in miracles? Yes!” — he never would have said it. The thing you have to understand about Michaels is that he’s a pro’s pro. Get the names right. Get the action right. Never jump the gun. Never say what you don’t know. That’s his blueprint. That’s his life. And Michaels believes that if he had thought up the line earlier, he would have discarded it because in his head it would sound jingoistic or corny or both.

1. This is in the Michaels-Costas story, but it’s worth repeating here… Michaels did not just leave after the game was over. He called the Finland-Sweden hockey game. So while he, of course, understood just how big the U.S. victory had been, he was unaware of the nation’s reaction, unaware of the way Americans had poured into the streets of Lake Placid. When he left the game, he saw all the people celebrating, all the waving flags, and he made it back to the hotel, and someone said to him: “Wow, that was incredible what you said.” And for a second Michaels thought, “What did I say?”

Click here to read the entire article.

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One Response to 10 interesting facts you may not know about the Miracle on Ice

  1. The US broadcasters have a history of not showing the Olympics live so that they boost their revenue by showing the events at prime time. NBC did it this year with the 2010 Vancouver Olympics too. It’s too bad when profit is all that matters 😦

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