This week’s 30 for 30 reaction post is of Miracle and Men, another documentary that I was anxious to see. The documentary follows the Olympic theme, although it falls into the Winter Games.
To summarize the documentary: “The ‘miracle’ win of the 1980 U.S. men’s Olympic hockey team had a flip side: the devastating impact that game had on the Russian coaches and players.” Although it should be noted that during the 1980 games it wasn’t Russia but the Soviet Union.
Now it should be noted that I love Miracle, the movie based on the 1980 Olympics US Men’s team. I mean Herb Brooks’ speech before the game is one of my favorite scenes of the whole movie. (Side note: but the Soviet players were asked if they had seen the movie Miracle and one of the players hilariously replied, why would he watch a movie where he lost, show him a movie where he won and it watch it all the time.)
So when this documentary came out I had to watch it because it showed the flip side of the coin and just like any other 30 for 30 it gives an in-depth history lesson into the Soviet Union, including how hockey came to be. They had the best playing style I think I have ever seen because it focused on the success of the team and not just one player. Winning was so important that if the hockey team lost, the Soviet Union deemed the Olympics were seen a loss.
So the Soviet National team was a well oiled machine because the hockey players were apart of the army, so they trained like those in the army would. The guys lived in barracks and worked day in and day out to perform the best on the ice. Their coaches were also geniuses when it came to the game of hockey, hence the Soviet dominance on the ice. (It should be noted that the US national team were not NHL stars, they were college kids.)
Going into the Medal game, the Soviet players were too cocky and understandably so. The week before the Gold Medal game, the Soviet demolished the US men’s team and everyone thought that the Soviets were just going to crush the US again.
But the Soviets didn’t have the amazing speech from Herb Brooks before game, which you can view here and the US proved that they wanted to win by scoring and equalizer at the last second the first period. The Soviet coaches then pulled their starting goalie, which never happened mind you, and that move solidified the US win.
Sure the Soviets scored another goal, but when they were done in the final minutes of the 3rd period they should’ve pulled their goalie for an extra attacker. That’s hockey 101. But he stayed in the net and the US finally beat the big red machine on home ice in Lake Placid.
That loss really did have devastating effects on the players because since they were apart of the Soviet army they were completely unaware that they were being drafted in the NHL. Even if they had found out that they had been drafted to play in the NHL, they were not allowed to leave the country to go play which was devastating to the veterans that wanted to continue playing.
Which makes the most important part of this documentary the fact that Viacheslav Fetisov was the first player to ever be granted the opportunity to go play in the NHL. Fetisov paved the way for players like Alexander Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Pavel Datsyuk, Artemi Panarin, and most importantly the Russian Five that helped the Detroit Red Wings win the Stanley Cup. Of course, Fetisov brought the Stanley Cup to Moscow, which was huge because he was the first player to ever do that.
I can’t tell you guys just how much I ended up loving this documentary, but it’s documentaries like Of Miracle and Men that sort of reaffirm my love of sports. I love 30 for 30s that not only tell me what happened, but give me the historical background that led to the great moment like that on the ice in Lake Placid in 1980. If you are a fan of hockey and have not watched this documentary, go now and learn something about the greatest sport on earth.