Discussion in 'The History of Hockey' started by nutbar, Aug 5, 2011.
How come he could beat the Soviets in 1980 but couldn't make it in the NHL?
In a nutshell a career is much harder than one game or a small time period.
Craig was a notoriously streaky player.
When he was on, he was lights out but when he was off....eekkk.
And it wasn't that his streaks would run a few games either, we're talking a dozen or more games at a time.
You don't stick on an NHL roster without consistency.
Brooks knew what he was getting in Craig and was hoping to harness one of his hot streaks to give them the edge he knew they needed.
He had Janaszak, the consistent goalie, just in case.
Funny how no one compares Craig to Jack McCartan, who led the US to an Olympic gold 20 years before, then found few good moments in the NHL.
Later, though he did play in the WHA
Fun story about Jim Craig.
He was more than a little bit high on himself coming off the 1980 Olympics. Playing for the Atlanta Flames as the Edmonton Oilers were coming to town. Asked about facing the young phenom Wayne Gretzky, Jim Craig told reporters, "I'm going to put him in my hip pocket."
Gretzky hung, I think, 5 points on Craig that night. 4 goals and an assist. After the hat trick goal, Gretzky skated by Craig and tapped the back of his own hip, letting him know that who had put whom in their hip pocket.
I loved young Gretzky for that sort of thing.
The guy only played what, 30 games over 3 season with Atlanta, Boston & Minnesota, a handful of games in the AHL?. Ive always wondered about him; was it as suggested, he was undisciplined, a party animal?. Or did he figure having stoned the Soviets at Lake Placid anything more would just be second best?. Whatever the case, I for one wouldve liked to have seen a lot more from him.
I was talking about what he played like in college.
Obviously Craig had not played a professional game yet when Brooks picked him.
What I was saying was that Herb picked him in the hopes of catching him on one of his hot streaks for a short tourney like the Olympics. If Craig wasn't hot at the right time, Brooks had nothing to lose and would of just went with a pretty good and consistent Janaszak. Janaszak was Herb's goalie the previous two years at the U of Minnesota after all.
... Herb picked Craig because Craig was the better goalie, period. Which isn't saying much because neither man was all that good, but on every level - on the U.S. national team, in the CHL, in the NHL - Craig was simply better.
Ya, and Janaszak was a 1st team NCAA All Star who'd won 2 Championships with the Gophers over 4 seasons. Unfortunately, he too only had a brief career in the NHL, all of 3 games. Crazy. The US has produced a lot of excellent goalies and the 70's were no exception.
Except Craig wasn't always better than Janaszak at the collage level and that's all Herb would of had to go on now wouldn't he.
Craig did play much better than Janaszak at times but he also played much worse.
If you do some research into it and after listening to the accounts from Brooks and Patrick, it becomes pretty clear they were banking on catching Craig on a hot streak. They came very close to starting Janaszak, when at the beginning of the Olympics, they didn't think they were going to get a hot Jim Craig.
Like I said, don't take my word for it, look it up.
The scene in "Miracle" when Herb tells Craig that he's going to go with Janaszak because he doesn't feel Jim "has it" was not made up.
Because any player can be great for one night. Over the course of a month a season or a career is a completely different thing. Even Zach Stortini has been one of the three stars on occasion. One night means very little.
Jim Craig simply wasn't an NHL-calibre goaltender.
The story above is accurate, except it wasn't Jim Craig. It was Richard Sevigny prior to the 1981 playoff series between Montreal and Edmonton.
Gretzky dominated and the Oilers swept the Habs 3-0.
Common comparison post 1980 Winter Olympics now long forgotten.
Nothing about Jim Craig's game was outstandingly good or poor. Basic face in the crowd type goalie that populated the history of the game.
Competing with the past and the resulting expectations is not for everybody.
as i recall, the "hip pocket" comment was from guy lafleur in that playoff series.
there is a jim craig story that i remember from gretzky's autobiography, though. can't remember it off-hand.
Very true. The annals of hockey are littered with the wreckage of One Game & Series Wonders who couldnt quite grasp the concept that your only as good as your next shift or game..... Its' a Cruel World C58. And then you just die.
Some did. Like the Billy Loes attitude, promising, MLB pitcher who was viewed as an underachiever, on winning 20 games being important. Why, then they expect you to do it every year?
... The U.S. national team played a ton of games before the Olympics started. Brooks had more than enough time to see both goalies playing behind the same team. The national team played at least 65 games - nearly a full NHL season of games - far more games than a typical college team would play in a season.
Craig was definitely the more consistent goalie game to game during that period of time. Janaszak had a couple of shutouts, but also had games where he was lit up; he was not the steady goaltender of the two, in fact Steve was the streaky one. If Janaszak had clearly out-played Craig during this time, Janaszak would have been the starter in the Olympics.
... Brooks liked to use generalities and vagaries so that A) he wouldn't have to reveal his true reasons for doing what he did, and B) it helped him to keep his players (and his assistant coach) on edge, which was how he preferred to coach. It also helped him as a storyteller later on.
Like I said, Brooks had more than enough time to look at both goalies before he made his decision on who would be the #1 at Lake Placid. Brooks also knew that Craig had played on the WEC-A All-Star team for the U.S. a year earlier, and had played pretty well. Before that, Craig had a 29-4-2 record for Boston U. (including a 16-0-0 season as a 20-year-old), and you can bet that Brooks was well aware of that as well.
The two goalies were somewhat close, but Craig was clearly the choice to be his number one. Brooks wasn't stupid. He knew what he had going in, he had a lot of time to see both goalies in action first-hand, and he rightly and logically went with the better man.
No, the "back pocket" comment was from Habs goalie Richard Sevigny who claimed Guy Lafleur was going to put the 20 year old Gretzky in his back pocket in the 1981 playoffs. Was he ever off.
The Craig comment against Gretzky was after the Olympics and Craig either said directly to Gretzky or through second hand information "who the $(%($ do you think you are?" Or along those lines. He was coming off a high from the Olympics for sure.
Anyway, I always felt the comparison for Craig is much like Corey Hirsch. Another Olympic hero (although he lost) that had a cup of coffee in the NHL and looked like he might stick around. Both goalies faded very quickly though and were more or less goalies who hit their hot streak at the right time.
Yeah, I remember reading about Craig saying that in Gretzky's autobiography as well.
But when the Atlanta Flames met the Oilers, Gretzky had 2 goals and 2 assists and Craig only had 12 saves on 17 shots.
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