Some questions about the 1980 Us Olympic team

Discussion in 'The History of Hockey' started by Coach Bombay, Feb 23, 2011.

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  1. Coach Bombay

    Coach Bombay Registered User

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    Miracle is my favourite hockey movie if not my favourite movie of all time. I love the story and everything about it, Ive even been to Lake placid to see all the sights and the arena and all that stuff. I always have been curious to see what actually happened to the players as I was not alive during most of their nhl careers. And what types of players they were ect.

    Anyone familiar with the players I have some questions.

    First Mark Pavelich, I was reading and it was saying he still holds the record for rookie points in a season for the rangers, and he seemed to put up decent stats for the next few years but he it seems he left the nhl? Does anyone know why he seemed like he was playing decently well but again this is from a stats point of view.

    Jim Craig, this guy was the mvp for the team and didnt really make an impression in the nhl, was it a case of peaked at the olympics and couldnt regain his magic? Or was he not given a chance?

    A few of the guys never played in the nhl at all like Verchota, Harrington, Wells at all, any reason for this? Were they simply not skilled enough?

    I know a good portion of them had good careers in the nhl but some only had average short careers.

    Im just looking on some insight from people who may have saw some of these guys play in the nhl and could give me a better insight on who they were as players.
     
  2. Loto68

    Loto68 Registered User

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    The big thing with Pavelich was the coaching. When he first came to the Rangers and had considerable success, he played under Herb Brooks who had been brought in to coach the Rangers by Craig Patrick, who's family was the Rangers. When Brooks was fired, his replacement Ted Sator introduced a dump and chase scheme to the Rangers that simply couldn't work for an undersized skill player like Pavelich. His feud with Sator caused him to leave the Rangers and temporarily play for Brooks again in Minnesota. I would venture that the whole situation left him disgusted and diminished his passion for hockey for a while, which is why he left the game.

    As for guys who never played in the NHL, I'd assume most of them simply weren't good enough. Eruzione also never played though he was offered a contract by the Rangers and turned it down because he wasn't to retire from playing hockey while on the summit.
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2011
  3. Blades of Glory

    Blades of Glory Troll Captain

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    Keep in mind that the Olympics were then limited to amateur hockey players only, so that team consisted of the best American college players from a time that the United States was practically non-existent in the world of professional hockey. At the time, they did not have a developmental system for young players and the NHL was not really a realistic option for young American athletes. Up to that point, the NHL was an almost entirely Canadian league, with a few notable exceptions, one being Borje Salming. American kids with any athletic talent were brought up to be baseball and football players, with little emphasis on professional hockey being a career. At the time, there was almost no American presence in the NHL. It could be said that Americans didn't truly appreciate the option of professional hockey until the Olympic Team pulled off the unthinkable at Lake Placid in 1980. It showed in the next wave of American players, their golden generation featuring top prospects like Pat Lafontaine and Mike Modano, among many others.

    I say this because for a team of amateurs, thus meaning they were not the high-end prospects that likely would have already been in the NHL, they actually had quite a few players go on to have very good careers. Ken Morrow left immediately after the Olympics and was a key part of the Islanders' dynasty. Dave Christian, Mike Ramsey, and Neal Broten all played 1000 games in the NHL, and Mark Johnson was an All-Star in 1984. But not surprisingly, none of those players turned into "stars" at the NHL level, which makes sense.

    So yes, I would say that the majority of the 1980 US Olympic team was not good enough to play in the NHL. It was an amateur team, after all. But I can't really speak for each individual player.
     
  4. brianscot

    brianscot Registered User

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    In some ways, Jim Craig was set up to fail. Atlanta pounced on him more as an advertising commodity and less as a young, inexperienced, goaltender.

    It probably made sense from a short term business perspective given the Flames would move to Calgary after 79-80, but like most goalies, Craig should have been learning his professional craft in the minors.

    This is from a Sports Illustrated article:

    Craig's potential seemed limitless when he appeared on SI's cover one week after the Lake Placid Games, fresh off a win in his first start for the NHL's Atlanta Flames. Who could have known that the Olympic medal would be a golden albatross around his neck? That his pro career—he played for the Flames, Boston Bruins and Minnesota North Stars—would end four years later, cut short by injuries and inconsistency?
     
  5. mbhhofr

    mbhhofr Registered User

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    If you want to get good information on what paths the individual players took, after the Olympics, read the book, "The Boys of Winter," by Wayne Coffey.
     
  6. Loto68

    Loto68 Registered User

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    You do realize that a bunch of the guys who had great success in the NHL were pegged to have great success before those Olympics right??

    Mike Ramsey was the 11th overall pick in 1979, Neal Broten was taken 42nd overall in 79, Ken Morrow was taken 68th overall in 76, Dave Christian was taken 40th overall in 79, Jim Craig, though he didn't have much success was taken 72nd in 77. That's just some of them. Almost every single player on the 80 Olympic team was an NHL draft pick, some pretty high. Also, they should have had Joey Mullen but he signed a pro contract just before the Olympic Trials.

    Its one of the great misconceptions that the team was a bunch of unknown kids who were suddenly discovered after they won the gold.
     
  7. Brodie

    Brodie Marxist-Harbaughist

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    Yes, the best players on the team all went on to be solid NHLers. The rest of the guys were simply good NCAA players who might have been able to make play in the lower tiers professionally.

    Jim Craig was simply a case of being rushed into the league to take advantage of his fame. He wasn't even a top end prospect and yet he was up in the NHL to take advantage of his fame. If he'd gotten a proper seasoning in the minors, he might have been a solid NHL netminder. He was also involved in a fatal car accident for which he was charged with manslaughter... the charges were dropped but it certainly didn't help his career
     
  8. Big Phil

    Big Phil Registered User

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    Think of it this way. Look at all the World Junior gold medal teams for Canada. There are guys who made the NHL and have had all types of careers and then there are the Jeff Glass-type players. Same thing with the Miracle on Ice team. They were 20, 21 years old and some were on their way to the NHL regardless, it's just that they were young and unproven.

    I also think that Craig's peak was the Olympics. Teams took him for publicity and hope if anything. If you are good enough to play goal in the NHL there will be a job for you plain and simple.

    By the way, Miracle was not the first movie about the Miracle on Ice. I didn't know this until the other day when it was on TV but there was a movie made in 1981 about the Miracle on Ice. Herb Brooks was portrayed as even more cantankerous in this movie. Maybe some have seen this film?
     
  9. Mr Atoz*

    Mr Atoz* Guest

    This is why I hate that pros are allowed to play in the Olympics and worse, that NHL players are encouraged to play. What does an Olympic medal mean to Wayne Gretzky compared to Mike Eruzione?

    Putting professionals in the Olympics killed the Olympics.

    It was the good amateurs on our side vs. the cheating commies on their side. It was good vs. evil and when good defeated evil legends were made.

    I stopped going to the Olympics when the pros took over. It's not the same. But 31 years ago today I saw the real Miracle on Ice. Almost like it was yesterday. :)
     
  10. Voice of Reason

    Voice of Reason Registered User

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    I think Karl Malden was Brooks. Steve Guttenberg was in it too. Pure 1980s gold (no pun intended).
     
  11. brianscot

    brianscot Registered User

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    Interesting that the casting director didn't notice that Malden was probably 30 years older than Herb Brooks.

    Guttenberg played Jim Craig; Peter Horton (he of 80's yuppie angst show Thirtysomething) played Jack O'Callahan; While Mike Eruzione was portrayed by B movie icon Andrew Stevens.
     
  12. AmericanDream

    AmericanDream Adopted Canadian

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    I always loved the fact about Joey Mullen....

    I am sure we could have plenty of debate over this, but if Mullen was on this team, do they still have that exact same chemistry, bond, and do they still win the Gold??

    Joey Mullen would have added a ton more star power to this squad, but there is no guarantee the same results would have happened. Things happen for a reason I guess, but man it would be cool to see if you can go back in time, plop Mullen on this team and see what happens....Plus if Mullen makes this team, does Eruzione not? He seemed to be the last guy that made the teAM...
     
  13. nutbar

    nutbar Registered User

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    I'm pretty sure the Swedes and Finns were using pros for decades in the Olympics.
     
  14. Big Phil

    Big Phil Registered User

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    I hear what you are saying. It isn't quite the same. But do you remember how passionate Gretzky was at the 2002 Olympics? Watch him in his seats, they cut to him when Canada has a slim 3-2 lead and the US are pressing and then the elation he shows when Iginla gets the insurance goal just tells you what he really feels about a gold medal.

    I'm not sure Crosby will ever have a moment as big as "the goal" in his career. NHL players still want to win a gold medal for their country.
     
  15. Killion

    Killion Registered User

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    Yepp. Ditto on that. Absolutely thrilling series right up their with the greatest games ever played, and an absolutely seminal moment for Hockey USA & the game in the states. As a "team" under Brooks, Id bet dollars to donuts they'd have beaten most of if not all of the teams in the NHL during that one brief shining moment when the stars aligned & it all came together.

    I guess the question arises in wondering why many went on to careers in other fields & quit; only a handful turning pro; Answer; How do you top that?. Even the Stanley Cup IMO takes second place to what those guys pulled off.
     

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