In response, a Twitter account claiming to represent the team tweeted Saturday, “To us, this is not about politics or choosing sides. This is about proudly representing the United States of America."
The account, past tweets from which have been shared by team members such as Mike Eruzione, Jim Craig, Jack O’Callahan and Rob McClanahan, added, “Whether your beliefs are Democratic, Republican, Independent, etc. we support that and are proud to represent the USA. It is an honor and privilege!”
That tweet was linked to one posted Friday that showed team members at the rally, most of whom were wearing the red hats. “The name on the front is more important than the name on the back,” the earlier tweet read.
To us, this is not about politics or choosing sides. This is about proudly representing the United States of America. Whether your beliefs are Democratic, Republican, Independent, etc. we support that and are proud to represent the USA. It is an honor and privilege! 🏒🏅🇺🇸— 1980 Miracle Hockey Team (@1980MiracleTeam) February 22, 2020
The 1980 team was in Las Vegas for a slate of “Miracle Weekend” events hosted by the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights, culminating with a ceremony Saturday, exactly 40 years after the monumental upset of the mighty Soviets, before a game against the Florida Panthers.
Trump has been holding rallies in states where the Democratic Party has staged primaries, and Nevada held its caucuses on Saturday. At his Las Vegas event, Trump invited to the stage 14 of the 20 players from the 1980 team, including Eruzione, Craig, O’Callahan and McClanahan.
Only three team members who reportedly attended the pregame ceremony Saturday — Steve Christoff, Steve Janaszak and Eric Strobel — were not mentioned by Trump at his Friday rally. Of the other three players from the 20-man roster, Mark Johnson decided to spend the weekend continuing to coach the University of Wisconsin women’s hockey team, Mark Pavelich was sent by a judge last year to a secure facility for the mentally ill, and Bob Suter died in 2014, reportedly of a heart attack.
Also called to the stage by the president was an assistant coach for the team, Craig Patrick. After the players assembled behind him, Trump invited Eruzione, the team’s captain, to offer some comments on the team’s head coach, Herb Brooks, who died in a car crash in 2003.
Eruzione then asked Brooks’s daughter, Kelly Brooks, to come to the stage and give her thoughts. Clad in a “Keep America Great” hat and showing visible emotion, Brooks told the crowd, “I’m honored that his legacy is still alive today, and he would be proud to be here with you all.”
“And in my personal opinion,” she said of her father, “he would have been a Trump fan.”
Eruzione was introduced by Trump, who appeared to have trouble pronouncing his last name, as a “friend of mine and a very good golfer, by the way.”
“Just tell them — am I a good athlete and am I a good golfer?” Trump said to Eruzione. “You are, yes sir,” replied Eruzione, who added with a chuckle, “Whatever you say.”
“That was some goaltending, right?” Trump then said to his audience. Turning to Eruzione, he asked, “How many did you rebuff?”
Eruzione, a forward on the 1980 team, pointed offstage and engaged the president in a brief discussion, at which point Trump introduced Craig, the team’s goalie. After asking Craig, “How many did you rebuff?” Trump exclaimed “37!” Craig had 36 saves against the Soviet Union in Team USA’s 4-3 win.
Once the 14 team members shook hands with Trump, the president said they had just told him, “Four more years.” Trump then said, “12 more years!” He pointed to where the media was positioned at the rally and told a laughing Eruzione, “Look at the fake news back there.”
Trump wrapped up the “Miracle on Ice” team’s appearance at his rally by thanking the players and saying, “Greatest sports story — could be number one.”
On Saturday, Eruzione referred to the fact that Monday represents the 40th anniversary of the team’s gold-medal-clinching win in tweeting, “To everyone who has been contacting me and my teammates about our anniversary today and on Monday thank you very much for your love of our team and how much the moment [meant] not only to us but to you as well.”
An administrator for the “1980 Miracle Hockey Team” Twitter account could not be reached immediately by The Post.
Among those responding negatively to the tweet claiming that the team’s appearance at the Trump rally was “not about politics or choosing sides” was actress Valerie Bertinelli. A frequent commenter on political issues, she tweeted to her 273,600 followers, “Then shame on all of you for wearing those divisive racist hats.”