Postcard from Pyeongchang: Beaten USA set for another great Olympic story

February 15 2018 3:59 AM

Senior Editor Graham Bell reports from the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang… 


When you think about the greatest sports stories, there is no doubt in my mind that the 1980 Miracle on Ice goes right to the top.

Not because of its significance within the global politics of the time or the call of a lifetime by Al Michaels, one that left millions believing, but because it is the story of a team – coming together from colleges across the country.

They may not have been the most talented, but managed to beat Russia before going on to clinch the gold medal.

The film 'Miracle' has done a great job in enhancing the tale, bringing it to life with the modern era thanks to a touch of Hollywood glamour.

But it is not a film that Tony Granato will be showing to the United States squad at these Games as they face a challenge as great as the one put down in front of the 1980 team.

Because the coach does not believe his roster need a miracle to win.

There is almost a touch of the Herb Brooks' in the way the current-day coach speaks.

"We've picked the right 25 players" is straight from the legendary leader's playbook – but it reflects on a Games that is lacking the star power of the NHL. New heroes could be made, much like Mike Eruzione and Jim Craig in 1980, but one thing will unite the team in any case.

The man who put the team together, Jim Johansson, sadly passed away just last month. His presence is felt on the ground – coaches wear pins for 'JJ', with Granato's statesman-like voice cracking as he tries to express his feelings for the man who gave him one of life's greatest opportunities.

But as coach Brooks said: "Great moments are born from great opportunities". Most of the squad never dreamed they would represent their country at the Games. An opening-night overtime defeat to Slovenia was not in the plan, but maybe that is just the first chapter in what could prove to be another great American Olympic story.

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