Funny thing about miracles. They’re not only events that create faith but also celebration.
One such occurrence will come to Las Vegas on Feb. 21 and 22, when the Golden Knights honor the 1980 USA Olympic men’s hockey team on the 40th anniversary of its “Miracle on Ice” victory against the Soviet Union.
The Golden Knights are expected to announce details to season ticket holders and the public in the coming days.
“We thought this was a perfect opportunity, considering the growth of hockey in Las Vegas, to host this event,” said Brian Killingsworth, senior vice president and chief marketing officer of the Knights. “Our fans will cherish the chance to celebrate the 40th anniversary and will appreciate the historical significance of it.
“Las Vegas has become synonymous with hockey. It will be incredible to host this team and celebrate it in a way that perhaps they haven’t been honored before.”
Win for the ages
The expected itinerary: The Knights will host an event with those members of the 1980 team in attendance and season ticket holders Feb. 21 at Brooklyn Bowl.
On Feb. 22, a public event with the 1980 team will take place at 2 p.m. at the Thomas & Mack Center that will include video of never-before-seen moments from its implausible run at Lake Placid, New York.
Later that day, the team will be honored during the Knights’ 7 p.m. game against the Florida Panthers at T-Mobile Arena.
“We thought it best to make a weekend out of it,” Killingsworth said.
The game was named by Sports Illustrated in 1999 as the top sports moment of the 20th century, the 4-3 medal-round victory by the heavy underdog Americans against a Soviet Union team that had won gold in five of the six previous Winter Olympic Games.
As part of its centennial celebration in 2008, the International Ice Hockey Federation named the “Miracle on Ice” as the best international ice hockey story of the past 100 years.
At the height of the Cold War, a significant level of diplomacy was discovered through a group of 20 college and amateur players. Name such as Mike Eruzione and Jim Craig and Mark Johnson and Jack O’Callahan. A coach named Herb Brooks.
After the win over the Soviet Union, the U.S. won the gold medal by defeating Finland.
Several films have been made chronicling the run, including the 2004 Disney movie “Miracle” starring Kurt Russell as Brooks, who died shortly after shooting of the project was completed.
So how did the 40-year anniversary land in Las Vegas?
In 2015, the team gathered for a similar celebration in Lake Placid, and yet those who organized it had no idea how the event might be received.
It sold out at 10,000 strong.
“An enormous success,” said Jeff Holbrook, managing partner of Potentia Athletic Partners, which organizes events for the 1980 team. “We realized that this was a great sports moment for people all over the country, so when we decided to do another one for the (40th anniversary), we shopped it to bigger markets.
“That’s when the Golden Knights really stepped up. The real magic of this is not individual players but the team itself. And each of them are extremely excited a city known for its entertainment like Las Vegas and a team like the Golden Knights and the success they have had wants to honor them. The players couldn’t be happier.”
All living members of the 20-member team have been invited to Las Vegas. Team member Bob Suter, father to Minnesota Wild defenseman Ryan Suter, died at age 57 in 2014.
Contact Ed Graney at email@example.com or 702-383-4618.