Once upon a time, they taught us to believe. They were the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team, a blue-collar bunch led by an unconventional coach, and they engineered perhaps the greatest sports moment of the twentieth century. Their “Miracle on Ice” has become a national fairy tale, but the real Cinderella story is even more remarkable. It is a legacy of hope, hard work, and homegrown triumph. It is a chronicle of everyday heroes who just wanted to play hockey happily ever after. It is still unbelievable.
The Boys of Winter is an evocative account of the improbable American adventure in Lake Placid, New York. Drawing on hundreds of hours of interviews, Wayne Coffey explores the untold stories of the U.S. upstarts, their Soviet opponents, and the forces that brought them together.
Plagued by the Iran hostage crisis, persistent economic woes, and the ongoing Cold War, the United States battled a pervasive sense of gloom in 1980. And then came the Olympics. Traditionally a playground for the Russian hockey juggernaut and its ever-growing collection of gold medals, an Olympic ice rink seemed an unlikely setting for a Cold War upset. The Russians were experienced professional champions, state-reared and state-supported. The Americans were mostly college kids who had their majors and their stipends and their dreams, a squad that coach Herb Brooks had molded into a team in six months. It was men vs. boys, champions vs. amateurs, communism vs. capitalism.
Coffey casts a fresh eye on this seminal sports event in The Boys of Winter, crafting an intimate look at the team and giving readers an ice-level view of the boys who captivated a country. He details the unusual chemistry of the Americans—formulated by a fiercely determined Brooks—and he seamlessly weaves portraits of the players with the fluid, fast-paced action of the 1980 game itself. Coffey also traces the paths of the players and coaches since that time, examining how the events in Lake Placid affected and directed their lives and investigating what happens after one conquers the world.
But Coffey not only reveals the anatomy of an underdog, he probes the shocked disbelief of the unlikely losers and how it felt to be taken down by such an overlooked opponent. After all, the greatest American sports moment of the century was a Russian calamity, perhaps even more unimaginable in Moscow than in Minnesota or Massachusetts. Coffey deftly balances the joyous American saga with the perspective of the astonished silver medalists.
Told with warmth and an uncanny eye for detail, The Boys of Winter is an intimate, perceptive portrayal of one Friday night in Lake Placid and the enduring power of the extraordinary.
In this well-written and thoroughly researched story of the 1980 Olympic gold-medal winning hockey team, New York Daily News sportswriter Coffey does much more than simply evoke memories. Expertly using coach Herb Brooks (who died last year in an auto accident) as his focal point, Coffey shows how Brooks, a devoted student of the game, used both psychological tactics and a groundbreaking system predicated on speed and constant motion to defeat the Soviets, a team of highly trained, older and bigger professionals who had dominated the international competition for decades. Over the years, this story of the Americans' victory has become larger than life, replete with drama and drenched in patriotic themes. Coffey's greatest achievement is that his narrative never sinks into melodrama. He captures the rigorous training and the thrill of the games, yet digs deeper, soberly rendering the tenor of the American spirit amid the Iranian hostage crisis and the Cold War, and humanizing and illuminating (rather than caricaturing) the Russian side. For example, although the Russians were a world superpower, they scrounged for Band-Aids and didn't use slap shots because a shortage of quality sticks meant they couldn't risk breaking them details suggesting the underlying faults of the Soviet regime. Coffey portrays the American side, a diverse collection of amateurs, warts and all, and gives special attention to Brooks, an enigmatic figure who turned a bunch of regional rivals into a tight-knit family whose bond still exists today. Filled with primary interviews and exceptional insight, Coffey's effort should delight more than just hockey fans. Photos. , February marks the 25th anniversary of the 1980 Olympic team, which could help sales.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Boys of summer
I came upon this book by accident while searching for something good to read. This is the best book about the 1980 miracle on ice team. I could not put it down. Thanks Wayne for writing an amazing book.
A must read
30 some years later hearing "Do you believe in miracles" still can bring tears to the eyes of a grown man. This book brings out all of those emotions, and provides a behind the scenes look into the players that made us believe. A must read for anyone who loves the game of hockey and can still remember where they were that Friday night in February 30 years ago...
Anyone who is a fan of the 1980 olympic team, or a fan of the movie "Miracle" will love this book. I would definitely consider it a must read for all hockey fans!