Sports Commentary 3/21/13
The CT Whale looks to to and Old Miracle to crate a New Miracle….
A MIRACLE FOR JUSTINA
Some stories just get better with age, as the year’s put them in historical perspective. One such story is that of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team, made up of a bunch of kids from various college teams, most of whom didn’t need to pack razors in their equipment bags, and their quest for a gold medal that would have to go through the greatest hockey team in history, the Russian National Team, made up of players who had been together for more than a decade. To this day that win over the Russians, and that gold medal run, stand as the greatest upset in the history of sports. I recently had the chance to see the Disney treatment of the story, “Miracle”, for a second time, and the beautiful thing about it was that Disney, known for it’s ability to generate a tear or two with good family fare, just, save for some minor dramatizations of some of the more personal moments, let the story tell itself. The central figure of the story is, of course, Herb Brooks, the coach who made this team believe in itself from the opening day of camp when he picked the thirty players who would become the twenty who would travel to Lake Placid, without consulting with U.S.A. Hockey. “I don’t want the best players”, he argued in defense of his picks, “I want the best team.” The Disney treatment came with all the Brooks-isms, “Herbies” the players would call them. “The legs feed the wolf”, as he, all but literally, whipped them into shape, “If you think you can win on talent alone you don’t have enough talent to win on talent alone.” Other than Brooks there was no single pivotal character, they were all pivotal. The absence of any of them would likely have led to a different result. Jack O’Callahan, whom Brooks kept on the team despite a strained knee ligament suffered in a 10-3 loss to the Russians three days before the games, sacrificing a roster spot, because it was the best thing for a team that had become family. O’Callahan recovered in time to throw the critical check that set up Mike Eruzione’s winning goal against the Russians. Steve Janaszak, the goalie of Brooks’ own national championship Minnesota team, the classic example of “They also serve who sit and wait”, as he sat behind Jim Craig, the author of the greatest Olympic goaltending display of all time. Dave Silk, with two assists in the win over the Russians that Al Michaels famously called for what it was as the final five seconds ticked off, “Do you believe in miracles?” 43 years later O’Callahan, Janasak and Silk are in search of another miracle, for 14 year old Justina, a West Hartford girl suffering from myriad, complicated health issues, and Friday April 5th they bring their “Miracle for Justina” tour to Hartford, for the Whale’s home game with Springfield. They’ll be signing autographs and auctioning off items donated by Eurizione, Craig and other members of that miracle team, all proceeds to go to the “Miracle for Justina” with proceeds also to be donated from $27 lower bowl tickets for the game that will be going for just $15. For tickets contact Jennifer Pelletier at “a miracle for justina @hot mail.com” or (860) 614-7300. Jack O’Callahan, Steve Janasak and Dave Silk know a thing or two about miracles. It would be nice to help them pull off another one. With a comment from the sports world, I’m Scott Gray.