Jobing.com Arena was filled with Olympic spirit Friday night when the Phoenix Coyotes paid special tribute to hockey Olympians past and present.
Before they faced off against the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday, the Phoenix Coyotes paid tribute to members of the 1980 U.S. hockey team popularly referred to as the “Miracle” team.
Team captain and Winthrop, Mass., native Mike Eruzione was joined by teammates Neal Broten, Steve Janaszak, Rob McClanahan, Ken Morrow, Buzz Schneider, Dave Silk, Bob Suter, Phil Verchota and Mark Wells. Eruzione’s game-winning goal against the Soviets amidst Cold War tension and the team’s eventual gold medal victory will forever live in Winter Olympics infamy. Their story has since been told in the appropriately named movie, Miracle.
Eruzione spoke on reuniting with his teammates in a pregame press conference, saying, “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.”
Emcee Todd Walsh noted that an NHL team in Arizona might not exist if not for the popularity growth of hockey in America spurred by the 1980 team.
The tribute was put in place as part of a special send off to both team’s Olympians headed to Sochi to compete in this year’s games. The Coyotes’ Olympians include Mike Smith (Canada), Martin Hanzal (Czech Republic), Lauri Korpikoski (Finland), Zbynek Michalek (Czech Republic) and Oliver Ekman-Larsson (Sweden). The Blackhawks are tied with the St. Louis Blues and Detroit Red Wings for sending the most players to the Winter Games (10), and had their players honored as well. Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane is the only player representing USA in the Olympics from either team, but was not at the game as he was attending his grandfather’s funeral.
Check out the past Olympians meeting present ones in the video below.
Photo via Twitter/@phoenixcoyotes