Amazon promotes Miracle in Lake Placid

John Gilbert

My wife has bought stuff by ordering through Amazon, and it seems very efficient. You order, and as if by magic the thing you ordered shows up at your house in a remarkably short period of time.

They do that with books, too. And one of the biggest compliments I’ve ever gotten in my long career as a sports writer came this past week, when I was informed that Amazon had determined that my recently completed book Miracle in Lake Placid has been chosen for Amazon’s month-long promotion for the month of April.

In normal times, I’ve enjoyed doing book-signings and having my book available for area hockey fans at the Bookstore at Fitger’s, and we intend to have more such sessions, but with everything being shut down these days, this might be the next best solution. Amazon’s promotion pushes the book nationwide, and if you get on Amazon, you can find it and order the e-book version of Miracle in Lake Placid for some ridiculously low price. So it’s a good time to get on Amazon in your (ahem!) spare time, check out the book and order it. Order two…or five! The price is definitely right, trust me on this.

And I’ve never heard of, or known anyone who was part of an Amazon promotion of the month. But with all the interminable retro broadcasts, you might as well get into the details behind the greatest single sports event of this or any lifetime! You will recapture the raw emotion of the moment, or moments, from start to finish, and some of the great inside things that unfolded to guide Brooks and his team on this magical journey.

We are all trapped in this Coronavirus pandemic, which has closed all the regional restaurants and night spots and bars, and greatly limiting our access to the normal places we are all accustomed to going in a normal day. Downtown Duluth resembles a ghost town because of the lack of traffic and pedestrians.

We are not complaining about any of that, because it’s undoubtedly the best way to allow us to stay safe and secure and look forward to getting back to normal in the not-too-distant future. Without sports events on satellite or streaming or television, what do we watch?

If we were smart, we would read a lot more. It’s a great time to read a good book, or to go back and read that enticing magazine article you brushed past on the first time through.

And just in the nick of time, an idea came to me from Skyhorse Publishing, the company that published the book I recently wrote titled Miracle in Lake Placid. It’s about the wondrous Team USA that came from out of nowhere, seeded No. 7, and won the 1980 Winter Olympics gold medal at Lake Placid, N.Y.

As I’ve written before, I was there, and I wrote about it at great length every day in the Minneapolis Tribune. I also had the fantastic circumstance of a private interview session with coach Herb Brooks, who had refused to go to the post-game press conferences and forbade the media from talking to his players on game days.

I kept thorough and accurate notes, from the conversations with Brooks, and after each session, I went outside and stood in the snow near the exit door where the players came out after showering and dressing, and simply talked to all the players I wanted to, keeping all those interviews in the same notebook.

After all the writing, including a book, Herb Brooks: The Inside Story of a Hockey Mastermind, I still have all my notes, and probably 65 percent of the comments had never been written before. When the opportunity came along to write this book — on extremely short notice, because the original author had dropped the project — I was finally able to spend the wonderful and previously unprinted interviews.

I love to write, and to recount those fabulous days, and to chronicle it 40 years after the fact allowed me to relive every day, every game of that tournament.

At the Gilbert Compound, high on the hill looking down over the North Shore at Lake Superior, we have learned to enjoy YouTube, with its epic old video clips of Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, and on into the fantastic repertoire of country music. We also enjoy getting out into the great outdoors whenever possible, which is preciously rare these days.

One thing we’ve done a few times is to go for an in-car picnic up the North Shore. Joan makes the b best sandwiches, and the first time we tried it, we decided to drive as far as Castle Danger, because then we could call ahead and order a couple of pieces of carrot cake at the Rustic.

Now, the Rustic has the best pies in the universe, but Beth Sullivan also sneaks in a carrot cake now and then, and it is, without question, the best carrot cake on earth. So we brought along our own Perrier, did a curb-service purchase of a couple of enormous pieces of carrot cake, and went off to park at a scenic spot overlooking Lake Superior and had our feast. The Rustic pies are also sold at Whole Foods, and some at Mount Royal grocery. We’ve gotten them there, although we much prefer the drive along the shore to get them.

Turns out, however, the Rustic has closed its curbside service for now. And we can only hope the pandemic disappears before the urge for pie or cake overwhelms us.

Among our other curbside treasures to eat were found at Blackwoods, where you can call ahead for a couple of exceptional bowls of soup, or, our favorite, the glazed meatloaf dinner.

Also, we took a run over the bridge to Superior and went to Gronk’s, where we had ordered the upside-down-burger special, which is two for the price of one, with the best french fries in the Upper Midwest. And we always love the Kung Po chicken at Beijing, on London Road.

And when it’s all over, if you time it right you can get out to 19th Ave,. W. and Superior St., to Luv Creamery, where Nicole and her staff will sell you a cone of the best ice cream you’ve ever tasted, or a pint of salted caramel, or dark chocolate, or coconut-almond fudge. Next door, Corktown Deli is closed tight, across the street, OMC Smokehouse is closed tight, and out on 27th and Michigan St., Duluth Grill, is also closed tight.

We also went off in search of other curb pickup meals around the Twin Ports, and we parked way out on the western end of Skyline Drive to go for a mile long hike. It was very neat, until we got back near the parking area and looked over the edge. There, on the steep hill below, some of our fine citizens have chosen to dump everything and anything you can imagine. Debris, garbage, a full mattress — everything. There is no reason for anyone to do that, and there is also no reason for it to build up, like a civic dump, high on the hillside to make Skyline Drive resemble a junkyard or garbage dump. It was a great drive, and walk, but the unseen “ambience” over the edge ruined it.

There are other tidbits of sports news in the Twin Ports. One of the most disturbing items is that Bob Nygaard, who first joined the UMD sports information staff 37 years ago, and who became sports information director 31 years ago, was summarily dismissed by the administration.

Nygaard, after 37 years, was summoned to a meeting that didn’t include athletic director Josh Berlo, and told that his position of associate athletic director in charge of publications was being eliminated. So long, Bob.

The claim is that the decision was made back in December as part of a budget cutback, but not many other schools with Division 1 hockey — and the possibility of its sixth Hobey Baker Award winner on Saturday — is without an SID.