NEW YORK -- Mike Eruzione, in New York City to discuss the upcoming rivalry game at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 30 between Cornell University and his alma mater, Boston University, couldn't help but talk about the upcoming 2014 Sochi Olympics.
After all, Eruzione was the captain of the last United States team to win Olympic gold, at the 1980 Lake Placid Games. Almost 34 years later, he's impressed by the depth and variety of hockey talent that has developed in the U.S. He believes that deep talent pool could help the U.S. capture gold in Sochi.
"I wouldn't want to have to pick the team because there are so many good players," Eruzione told NHL.com. "It's been incredible growth in hockey. When I was playing, it was Minnesota, Massachusetts and Michigan. Now it's Florida, Texas, Arizona, California. Nowhere would we have thought some of these picks are coming out of the places they're coming from. The growth is good, and we're a country now that goes into these tournaments as a favorite."
Eruzione's 1980 team shocked the world with an unprecedented win over the mighty Soviet Union, a match forever known as the "Miracle on Ice." That win was keyed by the leadership of Hall of Fame coach Herb Brooks. But the unlikely tournament win was also a result of great goaltending by Jim Craig, who was a teammate of Eruzione's at BU.
Much like the 1980 team, Eruzione believes the key for the U.S. at the 2014 Olympics will be in net.
"As Jack Parker, my old college coach, always said, 'In a tournament, don't call it hockey, call it goalie,'" Eruzione said. "I think the big question is going to come down to who is the goalie. Everybody kept saying Jonathan Quick, but Ryan Miller isn't playing too bad in Buffalo with a poor hockey team. I'm not sure Ryan is ready to give up the reins as the best goaltender. But Jonathan has shown over the last few years that he can win a championship."
Eruzione stopped short of predicting gold for the U.S. in 2014. But he does believe they'll win a medal. More than anything, he'd love to see the 2014 team, which has yet to be named, add to the legacy of the 1980 "Miracle" team.
"We [the 1980 Olympic team] want to see a gold medal. We want these players to experience something. It will send a message, not only to the world but to young players across the country, that the United States belongs at the high level," Eruzione said. "I will predict we'll be in the medal round and we will medal. I don't want to say that we're going to win the whole thing. But we sure as heck have a great chance."