Monday, May 31, 2010

1980 Team USA Jim Craig Jersey

Born on this date in 1957, Jim Craig played college hockey at Boston University for three seasons which included winning a National Championship in 1978 and being named an NCAA All-Star in 1979.

Jim Craig Boston University

Following his college career, Craig gained valuable international experience as goaltender for the United States in the 1979 World Championships, posting a 2-1-2 record.

Craig gained his greatest fame as the starting goaltender for the United States at the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid, New York.

Jim Craig

The young Americans opened their tournament with a come from behind tie against Sweden followed by a confidence building 7-3 hammering of traditional international hockey power Czechoslovakia.

They took care of business with wins against Norway 5-1, Romania 7-2 and West Germany 4-2 to finish the First Round undefeated at 4-0-1, earning a place in the four team Final Round.

"My goal in every game was to keep my team in a position to win," Craig recalled.

It was there that Craig cemented his legacy in hockey history, holding off the heavily favored Soviet Union, winners of five of the last six Olympic gold medals, in what would become known as "The Miracle on Ice". In all, Craig made 36 saves as the US was outshot 39 to 16 and won 4-3.

1980 Miracle on Ice

Despite the euphoria of that victory, the United States still had to come from behind to defeat Finland two days later 4-2 to clinch the gold medal.

Jim Craig

"We were just a bunch of talented, dedicated, wonderful guys who believed in one goal, and stuck all of their own personal ambition away to achieve it. If that's a miracle, I believe in that," said Craig.

Craig had little time to savor the victory, as less than a week later he made his NHL debut for the Atlanta Flames and stopped 24 shots in a 4-1 win over the Colorado Rockies.

Jim Craig

He would see action in just three more games, going 0-2-1 before being traded to his hometown Boston Bruins for a pair of draft picks at the 1981 NHL Entry Draft.

He would struggle for playing time in Boston, but see action in 23 games and finishing the season with a 9-7-6 record.

Jim Craig

The 1981-82 season was a litany of medical problems for Craig, including a broken finger which caused him to miss the 1981 Canada Cup, surgery to remove a benign lump in his shoulder, a fall off a ladder which broke his ankle and finally back spasms which ended his season after only 13 games for the Bruins minor league affiliate in Erie, Pennsylvania.

He spent the next season of 1982-83 with the United States National Team, and in 26 games, he played well enough to earn another shot at professional hockey, thanks in part due to being named the Best Goaltender at the 1983 IIHF Pool B  World Championships as the Americans went 6-0-1 to win the tournament and gain an immediate promotion back to the top level of Group A for 1984 following their dismal 1982 tournament, which saw them relegated down to the B Pool.

That final shot at pro hockey for Craig came in 1983-84 with the Salt Lake Golden Eagles of the CHL and three games with their parent club the Minnesota North Stars of the NHL before he retired as an active player following the season.

Jim Craig

Craig was inducted into the Boston University Hall of Fame in 1989 and the International Hockey Hall of Fame in 1999.

Today's featured jersey is a 1980 United States National Team Jim Craig jersey. This jerseys is a true icon of hockey and is notable for it's contrasting blue nameplates with white lettering.

While many manufacturers have produced replicas of the jerseys worn in Lake Placid by the United States "Miracle on Ice" squad, the original jersey manufacturers were Norcon of Forest Lake, Minnesota.

1980 United States jersey

Bonus Jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1982-83 United States National Team Jim Craig jersey as worn by Craig as he successfully attempted to keep his career moving forward and return to the NHL by leading the United States to a dominating run through the 1983 IIHF B Pool World Championships.

This seldom seen USA style was made by Cooper and came in between the famous 1980 Olympics and the 1984 Games, where they wore Reebok branded jerseys produced by Tackla. The highest profile outing for this style jersey would have been the 1981 Canada Cup tournament.

 photo USA1983jersey.jpg
photos courtesy of Classic Auctions

Today's video section highlights Jim Craig's performance in the 1980 Olympics.

This look at Craig's career includes footage from his NHL debut with the Flames vs. the Rockies.

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