So, I'm not entirely sure when I became such a big Dave Christian fan. What I do know, however, is that I've been chomping at the bit to write this post for weeks. I was tempted to start writing this last Tuesday (like, four days earlier than I normally do), but instead forced myself to settle for just looking for a video to use. He's so important. And wonderful. And you need to know about him. :)
+ If anyone was destined to be on the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team, it was Dave Christian. Dave grew up dreaming about playing hockey in the Olympics, as it was in his genes: his uncle Gordon won a silver medal at the 1956 Olympics, and his dad Bill and uncle Roger won gold in 1960 -- the "original Miracle on Ice." Bill scored the game-winning goal against the Soviets in 1960 and Roger scored four goals in the gold medal game. Talk about an Olympic pedigree! Dave grew up looking at their scrapbooks, his dad's gold medal on the coffee table, and playing hockey nonstop. He says he doesn't even remember learning how to play -- he had just always done it.
+ Dave was an All-State high school hockey player and also lettered in football, baseball and track (because why the heck not?). His high school team didn't have a ton of talent, with only Dave and one teammate going on to play Division I college hockey, so a lot of responsibility fell on Dave's shoulders. He played his customary position of center and took the occasional shift on defense as well so he could rest a bit without leaving the ice. He went on to play at the University of North Dakota, where he tallied 70 points in 78 games in his two seasons there.
+ Okay, real talk: we need to discuss how critically important Dave was to the Olympic team. During the pre-Olympic season, he played in 58 games -- more than anyone else on the roster -- and scored 30 points. Dave started out the pre-Olympic season playing center, but around two months before the Olympics, Herb told him he'd be playing defense. Remember, he'd played defense only sparingly in high school but never at the high level of college, let alone the Olympics. But he slid into his new role without angst and without missing a beat, and in the Olympic tournament, he led the team with eight assists -- EIGHT! -- in seven games. Guys. The dude had eight assists in the Olympics after only playing that position for two months. And Herb was really hurting for defenders, with Jack O'Callahan and Bob Suter being injured. I've read numerous accounts of people saying that Herb's most brilliant move was switching Dave from center to defense. Like, Dave was magical. He's been likened to a "Picasso on ice" and it's been said that he was the only guy on this team that would've been capable of switching positions like that. (He also happened to be one of the youngins on the team and was a total goofball. He and Neal Broten, his best bud, were the resident pranksters of the group.)
+ Dave's NHL career was equally as magical. He was drafted by the Winnipeg Jets in the second round in 1979 and was on the ice with them a few days after winning Olympic gold... and his name was in the history books before he'd completed his first shift in an NHL game. Why, you ask? Dave holds the record for quickest first career goal scored: seven seconds. Guys, the dude scored his first NHL goal SEVEN SECONDS into his career. That's barely enough time to hop over the boards and set foot on the ice! He went on to play in 1,009 games for five teams across 15 years, scoring 340 goals and 433 assists... as a center. After the Olympics, he never played defense again. But whenever he would see Herb, Herb would say that everyone else had him playing out of position and that he belonged at defense. So Dave had a hall of fame career, potentially playing the "wrong" position. Epic? Yes.
+ After retiring, Dave was head coach and general manager of the USHL's Fargo-Moorhead Bears from 1998-2000. He went on to co-found the hedge fund Powerplay Capitol Management (with Olympic teammate Mike Ramsey!) and now works for Cardinal Glass Industries. He also has a nephew, Brock Nelson, who plays for the New York Islanders... so there could potentially be a third-generation Christian playing in the Olympics in 2018! Can we petition USA Hockey to make that happen?
Basically, if you don't appreciate Dave Christian, you're doing life wrong. (Also? His smile is ridiculously contagious. While watching this interview I grin uncontrollably whenever he does. It's fantastic.)