Tony Granato isn’t planning to show “Miracle” to his players as a source of inspiration.
“To win, we don't need a miracle,” Granato said. “We need to be our best and to play our best for two weeks to win this tournament.”
Even so, members of the 2018 U.S. Olympic men’s hockey team see parallels to the 1980 “Miracle On Ice” group that beat the Soviet Union and won the gold medal. Only 39-year-old captain Brian Gionta was alive then and was too young to remember it, but the movie and USA Hockey history have allowed these players to make a connection.
“That opportunity that they got is a lot of parallels to the opportunity we're getting today in this Olympics,” forward Brian O’Neill said. “I think if you're a normal U.S.A. hockey player, you look at the 1980 team regardless, but us being in very similar situations, it definitely gives us a lot of motivation and inspiration.”
The 1980 team inspired Granato’s hockey career, but he’d rather players be confident than think of themselves as such long shots. Without NHL players — just as it was in 1980 — the U.S. is a long shot compared to another team from Russia.
“I think anyone can relate with the underdog mentality that they had,” Gionta said. “I think you have to look back at the political landscape that it was at the time and why it was such a big feat for the Americans in that time to win it. What people thought of their team and how they finished and won gold, that's extremely inspiring.”
Aside from Gionta, defenseman James Wisniewski and a handful of other players, the U.S. roster lacks the name recognition of the past five Olympic teams that featured NHL stars. Granato is hoping his current players become household names just like the 1980 guys did.
“In 1980 when I was watching the Olympics, I didn't really know who Mike Eruzione was or for that matter Jim Craig and within two days I kind of liked those guys,” he said.