Tag:Olympic hockey
Posted on: May 14, 2009 12:37 am
Edited on: May 15, 2009 8:51 am

Sports Movie Madness : Miracle

The date was February 22, 1980 and all I have to ask is... Do you BELIEVE?

The US team had already won when they were not supposed to. They had made it to the medal round, and had gone farther than anyone thought or expected. Now, on this date, they would be playing against the Russians - the team that some people said was the most powerful team ever to skate on the ice. In net, they face one of the greatest goalies ever to don a mask. They would never overcome these odds. It simply wasn’t possible.

Miracle chronicles the story of this team, all the way from picking the coach to the last second of the 1980 Olympics games. The weight of a nation on their backs. An all-star cast that is headlined by Kurt Russell as Coach Herb Brooks, and helped mightily by some of the up and coming actors of today. Notably, Eddie Cahill of CSI NY fame plays goaltender Jim Craig.

Not only is this an historic event protracted perfectly on film, but is the greatest assembly of hockey talent you can ever find in a movie. The actors where evaluated first based on their skating ability, and second on their acting ability. Miracle is a must-see for all hockey fans, and should be a must-see for all Americans.

Where this movie hits home...

As a young kid growing up in New York, hockey is as much a part of us in the winter as pizza and bagels. Sports in the Big Apple seem to take on a life of their own. It is never just one sport, and you seldom get to pick the team you root for, either. This is a generational act. If your dad is a fan of a team, you are a fan of the same team. I mean lets face it, if your dad drove Fords, you did. If you dad drank Coke, you didn’t touch a Pepsi. If in your house, the New York Rangers were the hockey team, you better not come home with an Islanders cap. If grandpa donned the Pin Stripes, you better like the Yankees.
And it was no different when it came to politics.

If you are old enough to remember the Cold War, this philosophy took on a similar meaning in our every day lives. In politics you were what your parents were, if they voted Democrat, you would as well. Well, in the late 70's the U.S.S.R was the sworn enemy of the United States, and it had been the case for almost 30 years. Communism was our arch rival.

This was not just something that took place on the battle field. It enveloped every day lives as well. The bomb shelter business was booming in the 60's due to the Bay of Pigs. The fear of the Soviet Union was everywhere, even his transitioning into the world of sports.

In the Olympics, the Soviets were larger than life. They were stronger, faster and seemingly won a gold medal in every event... sometimes just by their fear factor alone. The Soviet Hockey team was no different. They were not just winners, they were almost super human, and had won every international tournament from 1956 to the winter of 1980 except one. They were, in fact, on the verge of an unbelievable 20-year win streak. That was in YEARS, in case you didn’t catch that.

Now, unlike most countries that fielded teams for the Olympics, the Russian team was not truly amateurs. Most countries had teams that practiced together for six to eight weeks before an event. The Russians played together year round. Although they were considered amateurs because their "real" jobs were as members of the Red Army.

The United States teams, meanwhile, would be put together before the qualifying tournaments and then practice before the Olympics. Needless to say the US team was not going to beat a team like the Russians. America knew they were going to lose, it became acceptable.

It was acceptable, that is, until a man named Herb Brooks came onto the scene. Herb Brooks new of this rivalry. He knew of the humiliation. He had even tasted the defeat dished out by the Russian monsters on ice.

He had played on two US Olympic teams, 1964 and 1968, some even said he was inspired by the Red Team. Some said pure hatred drove him. So when the chance came for him to coach the 1980 team, he dove in. He put the team through the most rigorous training anyone had ever seen. Even some of the players he chose for the team were a surprise. He chose players from the college he had spent so many years coaching, the college he had taken to three national titles. He ate, slept and breathed not just hockey, but US victory. This was truly David versus Goliath.

On February 9th of 1980, he brought the team to Madison Square Garden to face off against the Russians in an exhibition game. The Garden was packed with fans of the Red, White and Blue, but they all left disappointed as the Russians beat the US handily, at 10-3. The hopes of the Olympic dream were gone, the hopes of democracy were gone.

The USA was going to succumb to the Russians. The mood of Americans everywhere was one of doom.

So I ask you this one question... DO YOU BELIEVE in Miracles?
Movie Madness score is:  SuperStar

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