The captain of the 1980 Soviet Olympic hockey team talked about being offered a $1 million contract to leave Russia, said the Stanley Cup meant nothing to him and felt a remaining “unpleasant aftertaste,” 33 years after the Miracle on Ice.
Mikhailov made the comments to the Moscow News in November. The outlet translated those comments and posted an English version on its website Thursday.
Here are the highlights:
Mikhailov recalled being offered a contract while in Toronto:
“The owner of the club comes up: ‘Here’s a contract and a million dollars, tomorrow you wear the club’s kit,'” he said. “But behind him stood Vasily Vasiliyev — that’s what we called the people from the security services [KGB]. I did not have any other choice but to answer, ‘Thank you, but we are Soviet millionaires.’
“We had family back at home. How could we go without them, what would we do with them? I didn’t even want to think about it. Secondly, for me the Stanley Cup means nothing. For a long time I refused to be photographed with it, out of principle. The title of USSR champion meant far more. I won’t hide the fact that I had, theoretically, a desire to try the NHL — to see how good I was and to earn some money. We did discuss that with the lads, but no more.”
On the Miracle on Ice and the Lake Placid 1980 Olympics:
“I really don’t like remembering that Olympics. Even today, there’s an unpleasant aftertaste,” he said. “The Olympic village was in a prison, and because of that we never slept properly; every step in the corridor created an echo. Freezing! … Everyone, including the bosses, thought that all we needed to do was to go out on the ice, grab the gold and go home.”
Mikhailov was right. Almost $50 million was spent on the 1980 Olympic Village, which was later to become a prison.
On the actual U.S.-USSR game:
“There were terrible coaches’ mistakes in the game — I think there was no need to change [goaltender Vladislav] Tretiak,” Mikhailov said. “And that’s how the lads and I were left, without a third Olympic victory.”
In the U.S.-Soviet Union game, Tretiak started and gave up a game-tying goal to Mark Johnson on a rebound of a shot from beyond center ice in the final seconds of the first period.
Tretiak was pulled. Backup Vladimir Myshkin allowed two goals on eight shots over the final two periods, and the U.S. of course won 4-3.