The American heroes of the Cold War’s most epic sports victory over the Soviet Union fought back against critics who decried the appearance of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team with President Donald Trump at a Trump rally in Las Vegas.
On Friday, team members — including captain Mike Eruzione and star goalie Jim Craig — wore red “Keep America Great” caps at the rally during a brief appearance in which Trump introduced the team and engaged in banter with the former players, whose unlikely victory as amateurs facing the then-dominant Soviets in front of an American crowd at Lake Placid, New York, was dubbed the “Miracle on Ice.”
Herb Brooks coached the team to its gold medal win over Finland after it defeated the Soviet Union in a semifinal match.
His daughter, Kelly Brooks, appeared at the Trump rally and spoke about her father.
“I’m honored that his legacy still is alive today, and he would be proud to be here with you all,” she said.
“And in my personal opinion, he would have been a Trump fan.”
The team shared a tweet to celebrate the moment.
— 1980 Miracle Hockey Team (@1980MiracleTeam) February 21, 2020
But then came the carping critics.
They made it about politics by showing up at a campaign rally. Don’t like the blow back, how about thinking before doing something stupid. All respect is now gone.
— Tom Baker (@Shake_N_Bake690) February 23, 2020
Well I used to admire the Miracle on Ice team and Mike for his emotional leadership for that gang of underdogs , unfortunately that all goes down the toilet with his support of a self serving Cretin like Trump. Perhaps all the pounding he took on the ice is the reason.
— Giuseppe Fiorini (@Giusepp59073114) February 21, 2020
Ugh…. so disappointed by the @1980MiracleTeam. I loved watching that game as a kid with my dad. Loved watching the movie with my kids. To see them on a stage, in maga hats—kinda crushing I have to say.
— Soledad O’Brien (@soledadobrien) February 23, 2020
Miracle on Ice guys going to a Trump rally after defeating the USSR in 1980 is quite the fall from grace.
— Andrew James (@ndrewL7) February 21, 2020
Today first anniversary of me throwing away the Disney dvd movie of the story. My son watched that movie every year at hockey camp. Sad day.
— WhiteSharpie (@sharpie_white) February 24, 2020
The team sought to still the waters by noting that American pride should surmount political differences.
“To us, this is not about politics or choosing sides. This is about proudly representing the United States of America,” it tweeted Saturday.
“Whether your beliefs are Democratic, Republican, Independent, etc. we support that and are proud to represent the USA. It is an honor and privilege!”
To us, this is not about politics or choosing sides. This is about proudly representing the United States of America. Whether your beliefs are Democratic, Republican, Independent, etc. we support that and are proud to represent the USA. It is an honor and privilege! ????
— 1980 Miracle Hockey Team (@1980MiracleTeam) February 22, 2020
Eruzione said that the American team was not simply lucky — it was good.
“Miracle’s a catchy phrase and it sounds nice, but it wasn’t a miracle. It wasn’t a fluke. We weren’t lucky. Craig Patrick, our assistant coach, after the Olympics, said it best. He said, ‘They deserved what they got.’ You know, we deserved to win that tournament and we did,” Eruzione said last week, according to Fox News.
“The miracles happened in much more dramatic fashion than a hockey game. So it was great and … a moment that my teammates and I are very proud to have been a part of.”
Eruzione said the Soviet players were stunned that they had been beaten.
“When I was skating through the line shaking hands, it was almost like disbelief on their faces. Like, ‘What just happened?’ I think they were stunned. You know, they’d never lost. They hadn’t lost in 40 consecutive games … They weren’t real happy,” he said.
“To us, it was a hockey game. But to a lot of people in this country, it was more about we showed the world what makes this country so great. You know, underdogs and hard-working kids [who] came from working-class families who went out and did something and shocked the world,” he said.
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