Thursday, May 12, 2011
Born into a legendary American hockey family on this date in 1959, Dave Christian, son and nephew of 1960 Olympic gold medalists and founders of the Christian Brothers hockey stick company Bill and Roger Christian, as well as nephew of 1956 Olympic silver medalist Gordon Christian, played his youth hockey for Warroad High School followed by college hockey at the University of North Dakota in 1977-78 and 1978-79.
He first donned a United States National Team sweater for the 1979 World Junior Tournament and was then a member of the United States National Team for the schedule of games they would play in 1979 in preparation for the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid, New York. Coached by Herb Brooks, Christian and the rest of the 1980 United States Olympic Hockey Team would pull off the upset of the century, as the team of college age players would defeat the mighty Soviet Union National Team in "The Miracle on Ice" and go on to defeat Finland to capture the gold medal, adding to the family legacy of Olympic gold.
Following the Olympics, Christian turned professional with the Winnipeg Jets, who selected him in the second round of the 1979 NHL Entry Draft, the Jets first draft as a new member of the NHL after being founded in the WHA. He played 15 games with the Jets that season, scoring 18 points in 15 games which included his first goal on his first shot of his first shift, just seven seconds into his NHL career!
Playing his first full season with the Jets, Christian proved himself right at home in the NHL, scoring 28 goals and 71 points to lead the team in scoring while playing in all 80 of the Jets games, setting the tone for a career noted for his dependability as well as his durability.
At the conclusion of the season Christian played for the United States once again, this time at the 1981 World Championships where he had a great tournament, scoring 8 goals and 11 points in 8 games. Before the next NHL season began, his country came calling once again, this time for the 1981 Canada Cup.
His second season with Winnipeg saw his point total increase to 76. His last season with the Jets was cut short by 25 games due to torn shoulder muscles, but over the course of the next nine seasons he would miss just 10 total games.
His rights were traded to the Washington Capitals in June of 1983. He made the transition to the Capitals with ease, scoring a point per game with 81 points in 80 games, which began a streak of three consecutive seasons without missing a game.
Before the 1984-85 NHL season, Christian added to his international resume by competing in his second Canada Cup for the United States. After a 69 point season in 1984-95, he had the best offensive season of his career when he scored 41 goals and 83 points to lead the club in scoring.
He would play three more seasons with the Capitals, extending his 20 goal, 50 point streak to six, as well as fitting in another World Championship appearance for the US in 1989, contributing 7 points in 6 games.
After 28 games of the 1989-90 season, Christian was acquired by the Boston Bruins for his offensive skills and veteran leadership. The move paid off for both sides as Christian and the Bruins made the longest postseason run of his career as Boston made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals.
He played one more season with the Bruins before being transferred to the St. Louis Blues as compensation for a pair of free agent signings by the Bruins of former Blues players. Prior to joining the Blues, Christian had the honor of competing for the United States in his third Canada Cup, this one in 1991.
After one season with the Blues, Christian was claimed by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 1992 waiver draft. He played 60 games for Chicago in 1992-93 and 9 at the start of the 1993-94 season before being assigned to the Indianapolis Ice of the IHL for 40 games.
His final two seasons of pro hockey were spent with the brand new Minnesota Moose of the IHL, scoring 38 goals and 80 points in 81 games in 1994-95 and 46 points in 69 games of the 1995-96 season before retiring.
He finished his NHL career with 1,009 games played, 340 goals and 433 assists for 773 points and an appearance in the 1991 NHL All-Star Game to go along with his gold medal won in 1980.
Today's featured jersey is a 1985-86 Washington Capitals Dave Christian jersey as worn during this finest NHL season when he set a career high with 83 points to lead the Capitals in scoring.
While many may assume the Capitals jerseys remained the same during this era, there were subtle detail changes, which included adding names to the back of the red road jerseys in 1977, changing to single color names beginning in 1979-80, dropping the number of stars on the arms to just four for 1983-84 and 1984-85, adding the fifth star on the arms back in 1985-86 and making the names two colors again in 1987-88 through the end of the lifespan of this classic jersey style until it was replaced with an entirely new set of jerseys, which sported an entirely new identity package consisting of a new logo and all new team colors in 1995-96.
Bonus Jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1980 United States Olympic Team Dave Christian jersey as worn in the gold medal clinching game against Finland on the final day of the 1980 Olympic tournament, the sixth time the United States had come from behind during their seven games.
The blue jerseys are the lesser known jerseys from the tournament, as it was the white ones they were wearing when they defeated the Soviet Union and the style which has been much more heavily marketed since then.
Today's video highlight is Christian scoring for the Minnesota Moose on a breakaway in what may very well be the quietest arena on planet Earth.