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Harrington tells how he gave Eruzione the puck to score the winning goal

February 26, 2015
By ANDY FLYNN - Editor ( , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - On Feb. 21 in the Herb Brooks Arena, after "Relive the Miracle" emcee Todd Walsh, of FOX Sprts Arizona, showed a video clip of Mike Eruzione making the winning goal in the team's 4-3 Miracle on Ice win over the Soviet Union in the 1980 Winter Olympics, John Harrington told his side of the story.

"Todd, just watching that there, the film's kind of grainy," Harrington said. "It's really hard to pick up what happened. Let me lay this out for you.

"Most of our guys had gone for a line change. They dumped the puck in the end. I was the only guy out there. I went down there around the net, trying to give it the Bobby Orr a couple of times behind the net. ... I saw nobody was with me, down around this area, and Buzzy, he and Pat and I played together the line, and Buzzy was probably the least conditioned guy on our line. He went for a line change, so Mike came out. Mike came out. I remember down here protecting the puck. Nobody was with me, and I hang on to it.

Article Photos

John Harrington, standing, tells the story of how he let U.S. hockey team captain Mike Eruzione make the winning goal during the Feb. 22, 1980 Miracle on Ice game against the Soviet Union during the Winter Olympics. The 19 surviving members of the team met for an emotional reunion Saturday, Feb. 21 during the “Relive the Miracle” event in the Herb Brooks Arena. From left are Phil Verchota, John Harrington, Buzz Schneider, Pat McClanahan, Dave Christian, Mike Eruzione, Eric Strobel, Jack O’Callahan, Mark Pavelich and Todd Walsh.
(News photo — Lou Reuter)

"I see Mike. The thought goes through my head. Here's a guy, 26 years old."

"Twenty-five years old," Eruzione said.

"Twenty-five?" Harrington said. "A 25-year-old. He's got not future in the game."

"First of all, you're not that smart to think that quickly. ... Continue to tell the story," Eruzione said.

"So I see him, and I go, 'You know, I could probably score this myself,'" Harrington said, "but as a great teammate of Mike's, our captain, I'm going like, 'Why don't I pass it to him and let him make millions in the next 35 years?'"

"If the roles were reversed and you had gotten the shot," Eruzione said, "it would have been wide and long."


John Harrington

Q: What's your favorite non-hockey memory of the 1980 Olympics?

A: We were out in the Olympic Village, and we were in trailer homes ... and the walls were like paper thin. We had four guys in each of those, and they were tight to one another. And you could hear who was in the next trailer because the walls were so thin.

I know Mike Eruzione claims it was after the Russian game. I said, there's no way. It had to have been after the Finland game, but I somehow snuck my girlfriend at the time - who is my wife now - snuck her into the Olympic Village.

She was in the room with me, and every night because the walls were so thin we could say, "Good night, Pav. Good night, John. Good night, Buzz. Good night, John. Good night, Mark. Good night, Pav." This and that. "Good night, Mike. Good night, John." And that night, Mike goes, "Good night, Mary." And you hear this little voice, "Good night, Mike." My wife was in there, and we still laugh about that now because you talk about how tough it was to get in the Olympic Village and everything, and I had snuck my girlfriend at the time into the Olympic Village. And everybody knew it on our team.

I always think back and go, "That was a pretty funny moment." And my wife obviously gets embarrassed when I tell that story, but it's good.

Q: Why was it so important to be here?

A: This was a big night, and a lot of people put a lot of work into this. There's not too many times over the years that we've had our whole group together.


Jim Craig

Q: What are your thoughts on the reunion?

A: This might never happen again with all of us, so you have to enjoy each moment and appreciate the time you have together.

Q: Was it surprising that you would get the team together?

A: No, because I think what happened is Bobby's (Suter) death solidified how important it is to make time. My daughter had her last college hockey game that she'll ever play, and I left early. So it's got to be something really special to do that.

Q: Based on your experience in the 1980 Olympics with Herb Brooks, what do you pass on to the next generation?

A: I think the biggest thing is, as a coach, you have to motivate people to believe in your vision. And as a player, you have to make a commitment to be part of something bigger than yourself. And that's what we all did.


Jack O'Callahan

Q: Comment on "We'll always be a team."

A: Yeah, we'll always be a team. It's funny, and I tried to allude a little to that tonight with some of my comments ... they were talking about how Steve was the backup goalie. Steve Janaszak was not the backup goalie; he was one of our two goalies, and that's that. Some guys played more. Some guys played less. It didn't matter, man. Everybody had a hand on the rope. Everybody pulled. It was a pure team. And it had to be that way because we had a great challenge in front of us, and that's the only way you win is 20 guys pulling on the rope.

Q: What did you see in the eyes of the people looking at you tonight?

A: It was just a little bit of joy sitting up there. I met a ton of people here tonight. My favorite thing about Lake Placid is the people. It always has been. The people up here are tremendous. Their friendly. They're nice. They're warm. They've always accepted us. Before we won a gold medal, they were nice to us, and now they're the same way. They were happy to have us back. We're happy to have us back. Understand, it's a love affair. It really is a love affair. And I tell you, I want to come back here until the day I die.

Q: What's you favorite non-hockey memory of the 1980 Olympics?

A: My non-hockey memory here really revolves around my mom (Bernadette) and dad (Jack) who were here with me. I brought them up here for the games, took out a loan to get them here. I didn't know if we were going to win, but I wanted them here with me after spending a life supporting me through youth hockey and all that. It was great, and for them to be here for the whole two-and-a-half weeks, so that's my memory, seeing them walk up and down Main Street, seeing them at the ski jumps, seeing them at the luge run and seeing them in the rink. ... I close my eyes, and I see that. That's my favorite memory.


Bill Baker

Q: What was the motivation for you to win a gold medal in 1980?

A: Herb had the kind of players on his team that were going to be motivated. You shouldn't have to do a whole lot to players to get them motivated at this level. ... It was just a special group of guys, and they know how to get themselves up. Herb was kind of a master at that as well. Like I said in the press conference, he always had things prepared. He was very prepared that way, knew what he was saying. And he'd get you going. He would tweak you just enough to think about things a different way and get you going and motivate you that way.

Q: What it really the team against Herb?

A: Oh, definitely. Like with the movie and everything that's been said over the past 35 years, I had Herb for four years at the University of Minnesota, and then a year here and a year in New York with the Rangers. He was tough. He was a tough coach, and he was a lot easier on the Olympic team than when I played for him at the U. I mean he was terrible there, and here he was a little bit more lenient.


Eric Strobel

Q: For you, what was the motivation to win a gold medal?

A: Herbie was my coach when we played at the University of Minnesota ... Herbie was a good motivator but a hard guy to play for. He was so knowledgeable about the game. When Herbie blew the whistle and he says, "Eric, I want you to go in this corner and do this and this and this." I would ask him, "Why?" And he would explain it to you, and then all of a sudden it made sense. ... Light bulbs turn on. ... But as far as the motivation, he was a good motivator before the games. He always made you feel good. After the games, we didn't play very well. We didn't feel really good about playing.

Q: We hear you went out to dinner with the Czech team after you played them. Do you remember that?

A: I think we did, briefly. I remember the whole deal when we beat the Russians, right, and we were upstairs on top at the Holiday Inn. My parents were there. My girlfriend was there. So we got a chance to watch the game all over again. So it was a little bit late, and Herbie had curfew for it. And we were a little bit late on the curfew, and we were trying to scramble back. We hopped in the vans. And people were lining the street and said, "Hey, guys." They were serving hot food, and we ran up there and said, "Hey, we're on the '80 Olympic team." And they gave us all kinds of free food before we went out to the village. That's what I remember being up here. Trading pins. It was fun.


Mark Johnson

Q: Why was it important to attend the reunion?

A: I think the thing that really pulled me in to coming tonight was Bobby Suter's jersey being raised into the rafters. (He was) a good friend. I played a lot of youth hockey with him. I've known him for a long, long time, and we were teammates at Wisconsin, certainly teammates on the 1980 Olympic team. He's helped my kids with hockey, and so to me I needed to be here tonight. ... It was a special night to celebrate with Bobby and his family.



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