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A fresh Miracle on Ice story, courtesy of Team USA

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Chief Gray

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PostPosted: Tue 4:51, 27 Aug 2013    Post subject: A fresh Miracle on Ice story, courtesy of Team USA

ARLINGTON, Va. -- It's impossible to talk about American Olympic hockey without falling back to the Miracle on Ice. That's a blessing and a curse; great as the moment was, it's been 33 years, and the story has been told backward, forward, backward again and sideways.

So, when someone actually tells a fresh story related to the 1980 Games, it's a nice change of pace. That's exactly what Team USA general manager David Poile provided Monday at the national team's orientation camp.

Poile, at the time, was the general manager of the Atlanta Flames. The team had drafted goaltender Jim Craig three years before and, truth be told,[link widoczny dla zalogowanych], didn't think all that highly of him.
"Very average," Poile said.
Then came the Olympics; Craig stopped 36 of 39 against Russia, finished the job against Finland, draped himself in the flag, became an icon of American sport -- so, yes, things changed.
"We probably would've signed him. We weren't even sure. Then they win the gold medal,[link widoczny dla zalogowanych], and of course, we signed him,[link widoczny dla zalogowanych]," Poile said with a laugh.
The Olympics ended on a Sunday. Craig was a Flame by the middle of the week. He was in Atlanta by Friday. And when he touched down, he was in bad shape.
Poile: "He basically stumbles off the plane. I think he's drunk, or whatever. He basically grabs me and said, 'It's strep throat. I haven't slept in four days,' because they'd been to the White House and everywhere else. So we get him to bed. Next morning we practice -- first time he's been on the ice since the Olympics. After practice,[link widoczny dla zalogowanych], he gets the key to the city,[link widoczny dla zalogowanych], all this stuff, blah blah blah. This is on Friday.
"(On Saturday), we play him against the Colorado Rockies. Sell out the building, which -- we never sold out in Atlanta. Our players are blocking shots all over the place. We win the game 4-1 (with Craig saving 24 of 25 shots). He does this Coke commercial, with the flag draped around him, ',' all this stuff. All the guys are all happy because they get paid, nobody leaves the dressing room until like 1 o'clock in the morning."
The next morning, Poile got a call from an editor at Sports Illustrated, who'd planned to put Craig on that week's cover but been waylaid by malfunctioning strobe lights at the Omni. So, they needed to make do.
"If we want Jim Craig on the cover of Sports Illustrated, we need to take a picture of him," Poile said. By 9 a.m., all parties -- "Craig, who'd probably just gotten to bed" -- were back at the arena.
"Put on his uniform, sat on his stall, sprayed his face with water -- that's the picture that's on the cover of Sports Illustrated," Poile said.
Craig went on to play 29 more games in the NHL and was out of the league by age 26. , the gold medal and, hopefully,[link widoczny dla zalogowanych], a few more stories we haven't heard.

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