Thirty-six years ago today was the Miracle on Ice, when the United States Olympic ice hockey team upset the heavily-favored Soviet Union’s team by a score of 4-3. Of the 20 players on that team, 13 went on to play in the NHL. But sooner or later, they all appeared on a hockey card. Here is the earliest card of every Miracle on Ice player.
The first seven players to be immortalized in cardboard joined NHL teams for the latter half of the 1979-80 season, and were included in the 1980-81 Topps and 1980-81 O-Pee-Chee hockey card sets. What made these cards stand out is that they have a USA Hockey Team logo at the top, denoting their role in the Olympics.
Jim Craig, goaltender
1980-81 O-Pee-Chee #22 (above) & 1980-81 Topps #22
Craig was traded from the Atlanta Flames to the Boston Bruins after the 1979-80 season, so his rookie card photo has a Bruins jersey painted over his Flames jersey. Craig’s NHL career was just 30 games; four with the Atlanta Flames, 23 with the Bruins and three more with the North Stars.
Ken Morrow, defense
1980-81 O-Pee-Chee #9 (above) & 1980-81 Topps #9
Morrow became the first player to win both an Olympic gold medal and a Stanley Cup Championship in the same year. He played 10 years in the NHL — all with the Islanders — and won four Stanley Cup Championships.
Mark Johnson, center
1980-81 O-Pee-Chee #69 (above) & 1980-81 Topps #69
Johnson scored two goals in the “Miracle” game against the Soviet Union. He enjoyed an 11-season career in the NHL.
Mike Ramsey, defense
1980-81 O-Pee-Chee #127 (above) & 1980-81 Topps #127
After the Olympics, Ramsey spent the next 18 seasons in the NHL, playing in 1,070 games.
Dave Christian, center
1980-81 O-Pee-Chee #176 (above) & 1980-81 Topps #176
Christian played 15 seasons in the NHL. He also played in the 1991 NHL All-Star Game when Chris Nilan was injured and could not play.
Steve Christoff, right wing
1980-81 O-Pee-Chee #103 (above) & 1980-81 Topps #103
The Minnesota native played in 248 games, including 145 with the North Stars. He also had one of the worst hockey cards ever made three years later.
During the mid-1980s, five other players from the 1980 Olympic team would make it to the NHL and get rookie cards. But one player got a card for a very different reason.
Neal Broten, center
1982-83 O-Pee-Chee #164
Broten had the most successful career after the Olympics. He returned to the University of Minnesota for the 1980-81 season and won the Hobey Baker Award as the best college hockey player. He then went on to a long NHL that spanned 17 seasons, scoring 923 points in 1,099 games. He became the first American-born player to tally 100 points in a season. When Broten won the Stanley Cup with the Devils in 1995, he became the first player to win an NCAA Championship, an Olympic gold medal and the Stanley Cup.
Mark Pavelich, center
1982-83 O-Pee-Chee #231
Pavelich got two assists in the pivotal game against the Soviets. He played in 355 games in the NHL, mostly with the Rangers, but also a few with the North Stars and Sharks.
Mike Eruzione (captain), left wing
1983 Topps Greatest Olympians #36
Team captain Mike Eruzione retired from playing after the 1980 Olympics. Three years later, Topps released a set called “Greatest Olympians,” in part to capitalize on the interest the 1984 Summer Olympics, which was hosted by the U.S. Both Craig and Eruzione had cards in this set, making it Eruzione’s earliest cardboard appearance.
Bill Baker (alternate captain), defense
1983-84 O-Pee-Chee #240
Baker played in 143 NHL games with the Montreal Canadiens, Colorado Rockies, St. Louis Blues and New York Rangers. When he got a rookie card in 1983-84, he was sent to the minors and actually did not play in the NHL that year. Baker retired at the end of the season.
Dave Silk, right wing
1984-85 O-Pee-Chee #165
After the Olympics, Silk played parts of four seasons with the Rangers, but did not get a rookie card until he joined the Bruins. After the 1985-86 season, spent with the Jets, Silk played another five years in Europe before retiring.
Jack O’Callahan (alternate captain), defense
1984-85 O-Pee-Chee #43 (above) & 1984-85 Topps #33
“O.C.” had a decorated collegiate career, being named to the ECAC All-Star Team twice. After the Olympics, he played five seasons for the Blackhawks and another two for the Devils.
The last seven players on the team would not get a hockey card until 1995, when upstart company Signature Rookies released a Miracle on Ice trading card set to commemorate the 15th anniversary of their Olympic triumph. Every player got two cards in the set, giving these last seven players two rookie cards each.
Steve Janaszak, goaltender
1995 Miracle on Ice #15 & 1995 Miracle on Ice #16 (above)
Janaszak had a stellar collegiate career, leading the Minnesota Golden Gophers to two NCAA championships. He was the backup to Jim Craig in the 1980 Olympics, and did not appear in any of the games. Janaszak played three games in the NHL — one with the North Stars and two with the Colorado Rockies. Thus, he did not get any cards until Signature Rookies put out their 1995 Miracle on Ice set. Both of Janaszak’s cards in the Miracle on Ice set show him in a tracksuit at the medal presentation.
John Harrington, right wing
1995 Miracle on Ice #13 & 1995 Miracle on Ice #14 (above)
Harrington assisted on Mike Eruzione’s goal against the Soviets in the “Miracle” game. He was signed by the Buffalo Sabres after the Olympics, but did not make the team. Harrington also played for the U.S. Olympic Team in 1984, then retired from playing and went on to coach for 22 years.
William “Buzz” Schneider, left wing
1995 Miracle on Ice #29 & 1995 Miracle on Ice #30 (above)
Schneider played for the U.S. in the 1976 Olympics, then went pro, ultimately appearing in four games with the Birmingham Bulls of the World Hockey Association. After two seasons in the International Hockey League, Schneider was able to regain his amateur status and play for the 1980 Olympic team. His son Billy played him in the 2004 Disney film “Miracle.”
Phil Verchota, left wing
1995 Miracle on Ice #37 (above) & 1995 Miracle on Ice #38
While Verchota was drafted by the North Stars, he never made it to the NHL. He also played in the 1984 Olympics.
Eric Strobel, right wing
1995 Miracle on Ice #35 (above) & #1995 Miracle on Ice #36
Strobel was drafted by the Sabres in 1978, and spent the end of the 1979-80 season with the Sabres’ minor league team. He broke his ankle in the playoffs and retired soon afterward.
Mark Wells, center
1995 Miracle on Ice #39 & 1995 Miracle on Ice #40 (above)
After the Olympics, Wells spent two seasons in the minors before retiring. His two rookie cards from the Miracle on Ice set erroneously spell his first name as “Marc” instead of “Mark.”
Bob Suter, defense
1995 Miracle on Ice #33 (above) & 1995 Miracle on Ice #34
Bob Suter never made it to the NHL, though his brother Gary Suter did. Bob is also the father of Minnesota Wild player Ryan Suter. Sadly, Bob passed away in 2014; he was the first Miracle on Ice player to pass away.
Bonus- The Coaches
Herb Brooks, head coach
1987-88 Minnesota North Stars postcards
Brooks went on to coach in the NHL, and later coached the U.S. team to a silver medal in the 2002 Olympics. He had only a handful of trading cards issued during his coaching career; this North Stars postcard is the earliest.
Craig Patrick, assistant coach
1971-72 O-Pee-Chee #184
Before serving as an assistant coach in the 1980 Olympics, Patrick played in 401 NHL games during the 1970s. He later went onto coach in the NHL, and was the General Manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins when they won the Stanley Cup in 1991 and 1992. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2001 as a builder.
Warren Strelow, goaltending coach
1990-91 New Jersey Devils team issue
After the Olympics, Strelow worked as a goalie coach for the Capitals, Devils and Sharks. He was also the goalie coach for the U.S. team in the 2002 Winter Olympics.
Double Overtime Bonus
Al Michaels, play-by-play announcer
1989 Pro Set NFL Announcers #3
“Eleven seconds, you’ve got 10 seconds, the countdown going on right now! Morrow, up to Silk. Five seconds left in the game. Do you believe in miracles?! YES!!!” ■