SOCHI, Russia (AP) — Vladislav Tretiak initially deflected a question as if he was making a kick save to keep a puck out of his net.
Moments later, perhaps after pondering his response, the Hall of Fame goaltender and Russian legend acknowledged a lot was learned when the U.S. hockey team beat the Soviets in the "Miracle on Ice" game at the Lake Placid Olympics in 1980.
"It was a good lesson that the Americans taught us," Tretiak told reporters packed into a 530-seat hall Tuesday. "You have to respect your competitors and only after the game can you tell what you think about them.
"We did not have respect for the competitors at that time, but we don't have that during this Olympics," added Tretiak, who helped light the cauldron to open the Sochi Games.
The three-time gold medalist was benched after giving up two goals in the first period in what is widely regarded as the greatest upset in Olympic history.
How long did it take him to get over the 4-3 loss?
"Let me tell you this — in '84 we managed to rectify our mistakes," Tretiak bristled. "We got our gold. It took us four years to grab the gold, but we have to give it to the U.S. team.
"In 1980, it was a miracle. And in fact, it made it possible for the ice hockey to develop so fast in the United States."
USA Hockey executive Jim Johannson agreed, saying: "It captured the nation."
Johannson said USA Hockey employed about six or seven people 34 years ago and now the grass-roots organization pays nearly 100 people to help develop boys who potentially will represent the country as men at the Olympics.