Jim Craig (ice hockey)

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Jim Craig
Born (1957-05-31) May 31, 1957 (age 61)
Easton, Massachusetts, U.S.
Height 6 ft 1 in (185 cm)
Weight 190 lb (86 kg; 13 st 8 lb)
Position Goaltender
Caught Left
Played for Atlanta Flames
Boston Bruins
Minnesota North Stars
National team  United States
NHL Draft 72nd overall, 1977
Atlanta Flames
WHA Draft 79th overall, 1977
Cincinnati Stingers
Playing career 1979–1984

James Downey Craig[1] (born May 31, 1957) is a retired American ice hockey goaltender who is most notable for being part of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team that won the Olympic gold medal at the Lake Placid Winter Games. Craig had a standout Olympic tournament. In the Olympic semifinal game against the heavily favored Soviet Union, Craig stopped 36 of 39 shots on goal as the U.S. beat the Soviets, 4-3, in what is widely considered one of the greatest upsets in sports history. Two days later, the U.S. defeated Finland, 4-2, in the Olympic final and captured Olympic gold. Craig went on to play professionally in the National Hockey League, where he played for the Atlanta Flames, Boston Bruins, and Minnesota North Stars from 1980 to 1983.

Playing career[edit]

Amateur career[edit]

Jim Craig's equipment from the 1980 Olympics, on display at the HHOF

Craig attended and played hockey at Boston University, after one year at Massasoit Community College. He led BU to the NCAA Division I championship in 1978[2] and was an NCAA All-Star in 1979. He was inducted into the BU Hall of Fame in 1989.[3]

1980 Winter Olympics[edit]

Jim Craig
Medal record
Men's ice hockey
Representing the  United States
Gold medal – first place 1980 Lake Placid Team competition

He is best known as the goalie for the United States in the Miracle on Ice, when the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team defeated the favored Soviet Olympic hockey team. Craig played a key role in one of the landmark moments in United States sports history. In the game against the Soviet Union in the 1980 Winter Olympics, Craig stopped 36 of 39 shots from the Soviet team led by the great Boris Mikhailov and Vladislav Tretiak. Craig's composure was evident in the final moments of the game and allowed the underdog U.S. team to protect their one-goal lead and eventually win 4-3. The U.S. flag that Craig wore after the upset is now displayed at the Sports Museum of America in New York City.[4] Two days later, he again would lead the way to a 4-2 victory over Finland, clinching the gold medal.[2]

Professional career[edit]

Originally drafted by the Atlanta Flames with the 72nd pick in the 1977 NHL Entry Draft, Craig joined the Flames shortly after the Olympics and won his first game as an NHL professional. However, he found it difficult to duplicate his magic in the NHL. The following season, the Boston Bruins brought him home to Massachusetts in a trade with Atlanta.[5] He served as the Bruins' backup goaltender during the 1980-81 regular season but again failed to make an impression and he did not participate in the 1981 NHL Playoffs. Craig returned to the US national team for the 1981 Canada Cup but missed the tournament due to injury and the following season was spent in the minor leagues with the Erie Blades. Craig's final moment of glory was in 1983 when he again played very well for the United States in the 1983 IIHF Pool B tournament. Craig was named goaltender of the tournament and the Minnesota North Stars promptly signed him to a free agent contract.[6] He would make a final three NHL appearances for the North Stars in 1984 before retiring from hockey.

Personal life[edit]

Two years after the Lake Placid victory, he was issued a citation "charging him with driving to endanger after an accident on a rain-slicked highway that left one woman dead and another critically injured."[7] Although neither alcohol nor drugs was a factor in the accident, the charge was later changed to motor vehicle homicide.[8] He pleaded innocent and waived his right to a jury trial, electing to go before a judge instead. He was found not guilty by a Wareham District Court judge in September 1982.[9][10]

Craig is employed as a motivational speaker, spokesperson, marketing and sales strategist. He is president of Gold Medal Strategies,[11] a Boston-area based promotions and marketing firm that also manages and represents Jim and his appearance business. Over the past 25 years, Jim has provided strategic direction for employees and associates from more than 300 organizations.

Renowned rock musician Dave Grohl (Nirvana, Foo Fighters) has mentioned being a major admirer of Craig over the years, as evidenced by the #6 entry of the "47 Things You Might Not Know About Dave Grohl" list on TeamRock.com, which stated, "Dave’s first hero was Jim Craig, the 1980 American ice hockey team goalie from Worcester, Massachusetts. After the team beat Russia, he found the phone numbers of all the Jim Craigs in that area, phoned them up and congratulated them. Dave and the real Jim Craig met years later at a Winter Olympics."[12]

In popular culture[edit]

In the 1981 made-for-TV movie about the 1980 U.S. Hockey team called Miracle on Ice, Craig is portrayed by Steve Guttenberg.

In the 2004 Disney film entitled Miracle, he is portrayed by Eddie Cahill, who considers Craig to be one of his childhood heroes.[13]

Awards and achievements[edit]

  • ECAC First All-Star Team (1979)[14]
  • NCAA East First All-American Team (1979)[15]
  • Olympic Gold Medal Team U.S.A (1980)
  • Ice Hockey World Championships B Pool Tournament All-Star Team (1983)
  • Inducted into International Hockey Hall of Fame in 1999


  1. ^ "Jim Craig". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved April 6, 2016.
  2. ^ a b Phillips, Bob (July 5, 2005). "Craig Was Miracle Worker in Goal". ESPN Classic. Archived from the original on May 22, 2009. Retrieved May 6, 2008.
  3. ^ Sturtevant, Ben (June 25, 1989). "Olympian Jim Craig Inducted at BU Hall for Famed Goalie". The Boston Globe. Retrieved May 6, 2008.
  4. ^ "The Sports Museum of America Opens in Lower Manhattan". (May 6, 2008). City Guide. Retrieved May 6, 2008.
  5. ^ "Jim Craig's Bio". Legends of Hockey.net. Retrieved March 22, 2010.
  6. ^ "Jim Craig". PFP Sports and Celebrity Talent Agency.com. Archived from the original on January 31, 2013. Retrieved March 22, 2010.
  7. ^ UPI (May 31, 1982). "Craig, U.S. Goalie, Charged in Crash". The New York Times. Retrieved June 9, 2012.
  8. ^ Quill, Ed (June 2, 1982). "Car Homicide Charge Sought Against Craig". The Boston Globe. Retrieved April 17, 2014.
  9. ^ Staff (September 15, 1982). "Sports People; Court Clears Craig". The New York Times. Retrieved April 17, 2014.
  10. ^ Wallace, Carol (March 7, 1983). "Trapped in the Net of Fame". People. Retrieved April 17, 2014.
  11. ^ "Speaking". Gold Medal Strategies.com. Retrieved March 22, 2010.
  12. ^ TeamRock (January 14, 2016). "47 Things You Might Not Know About Dave Grohl". TeamRock.com. Retrieved May 19, 2016.
  13. ^ Murray, Rebecca (January 26, 2004). "Interview with Eddie Cahill and Jim Craig". About.com. Archived from the original on March 10, 2011. Retrieved December 26, 2017.
  14. ^ "ECAC All-Teams". College Hockey Historical Archives. Retrieved June 17, 2016.
  15. ^ "Men's Ice Hockey Award Winners" (PDF). NCAA.org. Retrieved June 17, 2016.

External links[edit]