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The Boys of Winter: The Untold Story of a…

The Boys of Winter: The Untold Story of a Coach, a Dream, and the 1980…

by Wayne Coffey

Other authors: Jim Craig (Foreword)

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[The Boys of Winter] by [Wayne Coffey] tells of one of the greatest sporting events ever (I will not say THE greatest since the US Women's Soccer team did pretty well this year.) For those of you who think you know everything there is to know about the 1980 Gold Medal 'Miracle' team, trust me you don't and should read this book.

[Coffey] does a great job in telling what made the players and coach tick. The unknown backstory. The flips in the story from telling of the players history or interviews interspersed with telling of the game works very well in this book. ( )
  MsHooker | Nov 26, 2015 |
This was both an enjoyable book to read while being simultaneously frustrating as well. It was enjoyable because it gave the story of the miracle on ice, the 1980 US Olympic Hockey Team's triumph over the big, bad USSR team which always won gold medals and which had just crushed the US 10-3 10 days before the game. You also get to read about the coaches and players and that's cool. However, it's frustrating because of the way the author chose to construct the book. I realize I'm in the minority here, as many reviewers have expressed admiration for this style, but it annoyed the hell out of me. He starts with the game. People are skating, the puck is being passed. Several minutes into it, a particular US player gets the puck and then you immediately are torn from the game and given a lengthy story on the player, beginning with his birth, his upbringing playing hockey, his pee wee days, his middle school days, his high school playing, his college playing and stats, his status on the Olympic team, who he married, how many kids he had, what career he had after the Olympics were over, and everything up to the present, which is 2005, when the book was published. These breaks last probably 10 pages or more and break up the continuity of the game endlessly. It happens all the time. It's so damned annoying. Just as you're about to get into a rush to the goal by the US, the author breaks away for one of these long profiles and you forget about the game. Or not. But by the time you return to the game, you're so ticked, you no longer care. I have no idea why he chose to do it this way. If I had been writing it, I would have had profiles of all the players in one location, either in the front, the middle, or at the end, and then the game in its entirety.

So the Russians score first, of course. A lot of attention is given to goalie Jim Craig in this book, but deservedly so, because in my opinion, he single handedly won the game for the Americans. He stopped dozens of shots. He had an amazing night. We tied the game. They scored again. We tied it again. Then in the third period, another tie -- 3-3. With 10 minutes left in the game, US captain Mike Eruzione, a household name back then, came down the ice and got one past Russia's world class goalie to put the US up 4-3 and all the US had to do was hang on. And they did. Game over, America wins, stuns the world. And this was a semi-final. We still had to win the gold medal, which we did against Finland a couple of days later. Our coach, Herb Brooks, was a royal jerk to his guys, but he motivated them to win. The Soviets were stunned, but many drank congratulatory cocktails to the Americans later that night, which was classy of them.

It's kind of funny how the day after I finished reading this book, I read how Jim Craig is putting all of his Olympic stuff up for auction for about $6 million. Weird how things work out. Brooks died in a car crash a few years ago. The team was at the funeral. It was good to catch up on guys whose names I had forgotten and to relive an event I watched on TV so long ago. It has a special memory for me. Aside from my criticism, this is a good book and the author is a good writer, so it's recommended. ( )
  scottcholstad | Jul 30, 2015 |
Winter Olympics, 1980. The games were held at Lake Placid, NY, a tiny little town in the middle of nowhere. The hockey team was made up of amateurs, college kids who hadn't yet played pro, and wasn't expected to go far. But the pivotal game against the Soviet Union captured everyone's attention on the world stage. Starting with the first puck drop to the end of the third period, journalist Wayne Coffey gives a play-by-play account of the game known as the "Miracle on Ice," interspersed with short biographies of players and coaches loaded with interviews with the players and their families and friends.

I've read a few sports books in this format of play-by-play mixed with interviews and history. It gives a sort of edge-of-your-seat feel, and this book has this in spades, not only for where Coffey chooses to jump from one to the other but also in the way he chooses to end each paragraph with cliffhangers that rival fast-paced fiction reads. It's also very tough to "pause" a hockey game, which by its very nature has few natural stopping points. In this case, since I hadn't seen the game itself I found it very difficult to visualize and stop and start, so it had mixed results for me. I did enjoy getting the information about the players, some of whom went on to play for the pros with mixed results, and get a "where are they now" kind of update (at least as far as when the book was written in 2004). Recommended for hockey fans and anyone who enjoys this type of sports writing. ( )
  bell7 | Jan 21, 2015 |
I was 9 years old when the Olympics happened but I can still remember it so clearly. Prior to the Olympics, I remember the gas lines, the hostage crisis, the failed rescue attempts. It was a sad time. I remember watching those fresh faced boys carry all our hopes onto the ice and the things that they did.... the things that they accomplished that night was so much more than winning a hockey game. They made an entire country proud to be Americans again.
This book is a book about hockey, but it is also about the men who lived the dream. It was interesting to learn about their lives before the Olympics and where they came from. It was interesting to learn about what happened after. A beautifully written story. ( )
  Laurie.Schultz | Mar 15, 2014 |
The Boys of Winter is a pretty good book for what it is. What it isn't, however, is "The Untold Story of a Coach, a Dream, and the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team." The stories of Herb Brooks have been told before; the stories of the players are known. If you're reading this book, I certainly imagine you know what happened at the 1980 Olympics. There are no big surprises or even especially hard-hitting journalism. No players are interrogated past their comfort level, no dirt is dug up.

This book also does not tell the story of the building of the team, although it is of course mentioned; it is not the written version of the movie Miracle. I had expected it to be that, and was honestly disappointed to not have more - I wanted journalist-checked facts about how the team was built, to check the movie-built myths. There are some tidbits scattered throughout the book, but it isn't written as a narrative of the team's journey.

This book is essentially a biography of each of the players on the team, with an update on how they were when the book was published (as told by them, and those closest to them who would be interviewed). The information is framed by a play-by-play of the action of the game - which was an interesting and fine device, although I would have preferred if Coffey had included what times each play described had happened; it was hard to know how much time had passed between plays described and how much time was left in the period, which is essential to understanding the flow of the game! There is incredibly interesting information if you are a hockey nerd (I was very excited to find out that the Christian on the team was the son of one of the Christian *Brothers*! I toured that plant when I was a kid! We had awesome summer vacations; we also visited the much-discussed-in-book Eveleth Hippodrome, and the Hockey Hall of Fame), but that is what this book is about.

The best parts of this book, to me, were the interviews with and opinions of the Russian players and coach. I had never heard their opinions or perspectives before and I found that incredibly enlightening.

This is a solid read if you are interested in hockey history, but be clear on what it is and what it isn't - I spent half the book waiting for it to be something it wasn't, and liked it more once I figured out what it was. ( )
  g33kgrrl | Apr 5, 2013 |
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Wayne Coffeyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Craig, JimForewordsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 140004765X, Hardcover)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:02:23 -0400)

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Looks back at one of the greatest moments of twentieth-century sports history, the victory of the U.S. hockey team over the Soviet Union, assessing the meaning of the triumph and the paths of the players and coaches on both sides since 1980.

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