Miracle Monday: 5 Successful Post-Olympic NHL Careers

Hey there! You all ready for another Monday? :)

Today I want to talk about something that tends to be kind of forgotten. I'm as much of a sucker for the "ragtag bunch of misfits who overachieved" trope as the next guy, but what gets overlooked about the 1980 hockey team is that… well, they were really good. Most of them went on to play in the NHL, and a handful of them etched their names in the record books or the Stanley Cup. So, while the Miracle on Ice didn't start an American Olympic hockey dynasty (side note: why is that the benchmark for success anyway?), these guys were the beginning of the American renaissance in the NHL.

+ Mark Pavelich may have only played in the NHL for five seasons, but that was by his own design, and he sure as hell left his mark while he was there. In '81-'82, he led the New York Rangers in both short-handed and power play goals and won the Players' Player award; in '82-'83, he led the Rangers in goals, was named the Rangers' MVP and won their Boucher Trophy, given to the most popular player; in '83-'84, he led the Rangers in points, assists, playoff points and playoff assists; and in '85-'86, he led the Rangers in power play goals. And also? He's the only American-born NHL player ever to score five goals in one game. Not bad for a guy who went undrafted because everyone thought he was too small to be able to hang! :)

+ Mike Ramsey had his name in the history books before he ever played a single second in an NHL game: he was the first ever American-born player to be taken in the first round of the NHL draft. Once he actually, y'know, got to the NHL, he became a defensive pillar for the Buffalo Sabres, played in four All Star Games, and had a career spanning 1,070 games and 15 years. Amazing.

+ Dave Christian is another one that wasted no time making sure his name would be remembered forever. He holds the record for fastest first career goal scored in the NHL, seven seconds into his first shift. SEVEN SECONDS. I mean, what else is there to say? (Only that he was named captain of the Winnipeg Jets, played in an All Star Game, and his career lasted 13 years and 1,009 games. Casual.)

+ Ken Morrow's career is like something out of a storybook. He joined the New York Islanders a few days after winning Olympic gold, and three months to the day after the medal ceremony he was lifting the Stanley Cup. What. He's the first-ever hockey player to win Olympic gold and the Stanley Cup in the same year. And then he won three more Cups in three more seasons. Because, y'know, why not? He was never a goal-scorer, except in super clutch situations; probably his most famous goal was the overtime game-winner (and series-winner) against the Rangers in the first round of the 1984 playoffs. So the Islanders kept Ken until he retired in 1989, and then made him their Director of Pro Scouting. He was so good that they never let him go. Match made in heaven, yes?

+ Neal Broten… wow, I don't even know where to begin. Well, he spent most of his career with the Minnesota North Stars (which later became the Dallas Stars), and was their alternate captain several times (and captain briefly) and played in two All Star Games. He was also the first American-born player to score 100 points in a season. And he was the first American-born player to score a Stanley Cup-winning goal, when he was playing with the New Jersey Devils. He's the only hockey player ever to have won the Hobey Baker Award in college, an Olympic gold medal and the Stanley Cup, and is one of two players to have won an NCAA championship, Olympic gold and the Stanley Cup. He ALSO set a record for most NHL games played by an American-born player (1,099 games), played in the league for 17 years, and was the first number retired by the Stars organization. Neal, guys. Neal.

Not too shabby for a bunch of ragtag misfits who overachieved, huh? ;)

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