His office looks just like any other office in the Boston University Alumni Center. There’s a desk, a computer, a few chairs and framed pictures on the wall.
The pictures however, they are not the same as the other offices. A picture of the Stanley Cup with an Olympic gold medal and a picture of the 1980 United States Olympic hockey team are on the wall of his office.
This isn’t just any employee’s office. This is the office of Mike Eruzione, captain of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team.
“It’s not what I’ve done, it’s who I am. I don’t want people to talk to me because I was in the Olympics, I want people to talk to me because they think I’m a nice person,” said Eruzione.
Eruzione is humble in his achievements. This is partially due to the fact that if it wasn’t for one hockey game he played right before college; he would not be where he is today.
The summer before his freshman year of college he was all set to attend Merrimack College, then a Division II hockey school. He wasn’t playing in a summer hockey league because he had been playing baseball that summer. However, when a friend called and asked Eruzione to play in a summer league playoff game in Billerica, Eruzione agreed to play.
“The guy refereeing was a guy named Jack Parker,” he explained. After the game Parker, then the assistant coach for BU, requested Eruzione come to BU the next day on a recruiting trip. A scholarship opened up for that coming school year. Parker offered him a full scholarship one week before the school year began.
“I went to BU and everything took off from there. If I had never played in that summer league game, I never would have gone to BU, I never would have made the Olympic team, and you wouldn’t be talking to me today,” He said, “You know, everybody gets an opportunity in their life and it’s what you do with it. I could have showed up at that summer league game and just kind of went through the motions. But that wasn’t my nature, when I played I played.”
In that summer league game Eruzione played for the Winthrop team against the team from Charlestown. Oddly enough, Jack O’Callahan was playing for Charlestown. O’Callahan would go on to be teammates with Eruzione at BU and on Team USA.
The two are still very close and talk or see each other whenever they can. O’Callahan said of Eruizione, “Mike is an easy guy to be around. He is interested and interesting. He has a good sense of humor; he’s up to date on things, etc. He keeps things in check. He’s a good man.”
Eruzione is currently working as the Director of Special Outreach. “I’ve been trying to figure that title out since I’ve been here,” laughed Eruzione. His job description includes meeting with recruits, speaking at alumni events. “I’m kind of an ambassador in some ways. I’ll go to the hockey games and meet with our season ticket holders and stop by and say hello and do things like that,” he said.
In addition to working at BU, Eruzione coaches hockey at Winthrop High School, his alma mater. He recently started a business with former Olympic speed skaters Dan Jansen and Bonnie Blair.
Although Eruzione works at BU, he still travels a lot for other jobs, “Next week I’m in Chicago, for a speech. I did a speech last night in Providence for a turf convention. Next week I’m in Chicago for a pharmaceutical company. Then the following week I’m in West Palm Beach for a celebrity golf tournament. Then I come home from there. Then I go to Syracuse to speak at a sales meeting.”
Eruzione scored the game-winning goal against the Soviet Union in the game that was arguably the biggest upset in sports history. However, this was not his strongest memory of the Olympic contest.
“Marching in the opening ceremonies. I always tell people this, because if you never get there, none of these other things would have happened. So, just by being there is a great accomplishment. Being able to represent your country, being able to put a jersey on that says USA across the front is a very proud moment and a very special feeling,” he said.
His other favorite memory was simply spending time with his teammate off the ice. He explained, “I mean, the hockey was one thing but the locker room, going back to the Olympic village, bus trips that we took out during the year. Tricks we played, stupid little things guys do when they’re together. That’s what I remember.”
Following the Olympics, Eruzione elected to hang up his skates rather than attempting to play in the NHL.
“I still love the game and I kept playing. I played with my buddies on Monday nights and still once in awhile I’ll skate on Monday nights. It’s kind of a running joke. I even tell the kids at BU, eventually you end up in the Monday night league. Whether you play in the NHL for ten years, some point when the game ends, if you still want to play you end up with your buddies somewhere,” he said.
O’Callahan thinks he made the right choice, “The Olympics was a great ‘end game’ for Mike and his planning all along was to step aside after the games. He did not play in the Olympics looking to improve his standing with the NHL teams and hoping to get an NHL contract for 1981. He played in the Olympics because it was an opportunity to play hockey for our country, in the Olympics”
Following the Olympics Eruzione worked for the Madison Square Garden network doing New York Rangers then New Jersey Devils games. He then went on to call College hockey games. He also did work for ABC and NBC for the Olympics. When his kids started to get older he decided to stay in Boston and joined BU as an assistant coach.
Eruzione rarely wears his 1980 Olympic championship ring, only for special occasions.
“It’s a great way to meet a girl,” he joked, “If I’m on the plane and I’m sitting next to someone I usually try to turn it over because I don’t want anyone to know who I am.”
O’Callahan doesn’t buy that Eruzione doesn’t like to get recognized.
“Well, he probably doesn’t mind it when he is looking for a table at a busy restaurant or looking to get upgraded on a flight, or get free golf clubs, or a free car, or all the other free stuff that has come his way in the past 30 years because he was the captain of the 1980 hockey team,” he said via e-mail, “I don’t know how to respond to that one other than to say (with a smile on my face of course)… that he is full of it. It is what it is. He is recognizable, he makes his living being ‘Mike Eruzione,’ he relishes the attention, its usually positive attention and that’s part of who he is.”
Eruzione insists that the greatest memory of his life is not his hockey success.
“I think it’s really the people I’ve met. I’ve met presidents, I’ve met the greatest athletes in the world, I’ve met great service men and service women, I’ve met butlers, maids, janitors, CEOs of companies,” he said, “And it’s the fun traveling around the country. I’ve been to every state accept Alaska. That’s only my own fault because I’ve been invited there a couple of times and I just haven’t been able to make that long trip. I think it’s the people that you meet over the last, for me, 31 years since 1980 and the fun that you have when you’re around them.”