He also remembers that was the exact moment a 5-year-old Tim Thomas decided he was going to be a hockey player when he grew up. Thomas turns 37 on Friday, and the Flint, Mich., native has fulfilled just about all his hockey dreams: reaching the NHL, winning a Vezina Trophy and putting together a historic campaign this season worthy of a second. But none of that may have come to fruition without the inspiration of that 1980 Olympic victory.
"It was huge," Thomas said Wednesday after the Bruins' final practice heading into Thursday's playoff opener against Montreal. "It was the biggest influence of my youth as far as hockey went, by far. Jim Craig, just the whole U.S. Olympic experience. I'm 36 years old, almost 37, and I still remember seeing it on TV when it happened."
Next week, Thomas will get to see the site of that historic hockey moment in person. With an extra day between Games 3 and 4 in Montreal, the Bruins announced Tuesday that they would head to Lake Placid for two days of practice rather than remaining in hostile territory.
Bruins coach Claude Julien stated the decision to head to Lake Placid was made to escape the fishbowl of the Montreal media and focus on game preparation.
"It's just a decision we made," Julien said. "We felt we had a couple of days, and it was a good area to get some practice time. That was the decision behind going there. There was no use in us staying longer than we had to [in Montreal]. We have a job to do. We have to practice and stay focused, so we felt that was the best thing to do because of the way the schedule was put out."
Thomas even joked that Zdeno Chara wouldn't need extra security in Lake Placid, unlike Montreal where the Bruins captain is Public Enemy No. 1 after last month's hit on Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty.
But the temporary relocation will also give the Bruins a chance to draw a little inspiration from one of hockey's greatest moments. Thomas, who fulfilled a lifelong dream to represent his country at last year's Olympics in Vancouver, is particularly eager to have some time to see where U.S. hockey history was made.
"It's probably the right move," Thomas said. "I've been to Lake Placid for ECAC finals my junior year in college [at the University of Vermont] and we just drove in, played and drove out, so I didn't get a chance to see too much. It'll be interesting to see the scene of the 1980 Miracle on Ice kind of deal. I've seen the arena, but just to see the whole town. I know it will be different because the Olympics aren't actually there right now and it's been a long time, but still, it ought to be pretty cool."