February 22nd, 1980. Lake Placid, New York, United States of America.
Just over two weeks ago, we celebrated the anniversary of a day that will never be forgotten. A seemingly impossible sequence of events changed the landscape of American athletics forever, leaving us with a host of heroes ingrained in our country’s sports culture until the end of time.
The legendary true story of the United States’ 1980 Olympic men’s ice hockey team is as well documented as any. We know of their humble beginnings as amateur collegiate athletes, untested against the world’s best. We know of their eventual defeat of a juggernaut Soviet squad, often considered the most dominant dynasty the sporting world has ever seen. The rest, as they say, is history.
Not nearly as well known, however, is what followed for the twenty iconic members of America’s most storied sports team. Some used their newfound fame as a springboard into new careers that might have been unimaginable beforehand. Others preferred to fade back into relative obscurity, content to stay as far away from the spotlight as possible. To find out more, I have conducted extensive research into the lives of every name on the Miracle team roster. Read on to learn where these men’s lives have taken them since the day they became immortalized as American legends.
#1 Steve Janaszak (Goalie)
Although a two-time NCAA national champion (and 1979 tournament MVP) with coach Herb Brooks’ Golden Gophers, Janaszak did not play in a single game throughout the 1980 Winter Olympics. After Lake Placid, Janaszak spent several years in the minor leagues, ending up playing a total of three NHL games between the Minnesota North Stars and Colorado Rockies (both of which are now defunct).
Janaszak currently works as an investment bank manager in New York. On an interesting yet somber note, Janaszak worked as a bond salesman on the 89th floor of the World Trade Center’s South Tower until March of 2001. Thanks to a timely change in employment, Janaszak escaped almost certain death by about six months.
#3 Ken Morrow (Defense)
Ken Morrow’s timing could not have been better. After winning gold, Morrow went straight to the New York Islanders and just months later, won the first of four straight Stanley Cups. Playing ten seasons with the team, Morrow was a franchise cornerstone on the blue line for a true NHL dynasty. He currently resides in Kansas City, working as the Director of Pro Scouting for the Islanders. Interestingly, to this day Morrow is the only hockey player to have won an Olympic gold medal and Stanley Cup in the same year.
#5 Mike Ramsey (Defense)
Like Morrow, Ramsey also managed to parlay his 1980 Olympic fame into a successful NHL career. Between the Sabres, Penguins, and Red Wings, Ramsey played a grand total of eighteen seasons. He was a four-time all-star, and was given the captaincy during his time with the Sabres. After serving as an assistant coach with both the Sabres and Wild, Ramsey made some noise in the world of finance. Joining forces with Olympic teammate Dave Christian, the two co-founded a hedge fund called Powerplay Capital Management. Ramsey is currently retired in the Minneapolis area.
#6 Bill Baker (Defense)
Captain of Brooks’ 1979 national champion Golden Gophers and assistant captain of the gold-winning 1980 USA Olympic team, Baker is a proven leader and winner. Before retiring from the NHL in 1983, Baker had stints with the Canadiens, Rockies, Blues, and coach Herb Brooks’ Rangers. Currently retired in Brainerd, Massachusetts following a second career as a maxillofacial (what?) surgeon, Baker’s 1980 Olympic jersey hangs inside the Smithsonian in DC.
#8 Dave Silk (Right Wing)
After the Olympics, Silk played seven seasons in the NHL between the Rangers (under Herb Brooks), Bruins, Red Wings, and Jets. He then took his talents to Germany, where he played five additional seasons. Silk’s playing career was followed by a stint as an assistant coach with his alma mater, Boston University, while he pursued a graduate degree in management. Silk, a cousin to NHL analyst (and perpetrator of the Bruins’ infamous ‘shoe incident’) Mike Milbury, currently works as Director of Standard Life Investments in the Boston area.
#9 Neal Broten (Center)
Broten went back for one more year at the University of Minnesota, winning the inaugural Hobey Baker Award as the country’s best college hockey player. He went on to play in the NHL with the North Stars, moving with the team to Dallas in 1993. Broten was awarded the captaincy a year later, although he was traded at the deadline of the same season to the New Jersey Devils.
He went on, however, to win the Stanley Cup that same year, potting the Cup-winning goal in the process. To this day, Broten is the only player to win a Hobey Baker, NCAA championship, Olympic gold, and Stanley Cup. He currently owns and operates a horse farm with his wife in River Falls, Wisconsin.
#10 Mark Johnson (Center)
Johnson is best known for scoring two of the US’ four goals versus the Soviets in that fabled semifinal game. The second, of course, is the goal that sent legendary netminder Vladislav Tretiak to the bench after the first period. Johnson played in the NHL for the Penguins, North Stars, Whalers (serving as captain), Flames, and Kings until 1990. He followed up his NHL career with two seasons in Europe, split between Italy and Austria. Later, Johnson would coach the US women’s hockey team to a silver medal in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. He now serves as head coach of the women’s hockey team at the University of Wisconsin.
#11 Steve Christoff (Right Wing)
Christoff, another University of Minnesota product, spent parts of five seasons playing in the NHL. He saw time with the North Stars, Flames, and Kings before retiring in 1984. Unlike many of his 1980 Olympic teammates, Christoff has managed to stay almost entirely out of the public eye. It has been confirmed, however, that he is currently working as a commercial airline pilot in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
#15 Mark Wells (Center)
The Americans’ fourth line center at Lake Placid, Wells was the team’s final addition. Coach Brooks brought Wells on board with the specific purpose of harassing his team’s opponents throughout the 1980 Olympic games. After the Olympics, Wells bounced around the minor leagues between the AHL, IHL, and CHL, playing until 1982.
In 1989, Wells was diagnosed with a rare, potentially fatal degenerative spinal disease, immediately changing his life in dramatic fashion. Discs in his lower back had begun to deteriorate, severing nerves in his spinal cord and causing him significant pain. Wells has since undergone multiple surgeries, forced to sell his Olympic gold medal somewhere along the way to cover his medical expenses. Although he is not paralyzed, Wells still experiences debilitating pain on a daily basis.
#16 Mark Pavelich (Center)
Mark Pavelich is best remembered for his pass to Mike Eruzione in the dying minutes of the semifinal match, setting up the game-winning goal versus the powerhouse Soviets. Yet another member of the Miracle team to play for the Rangers under Brooks, Pavelich did well in New York. In the 1981-1982 season, he set the franchise record for rookie scoring with 76 points in 79 games. The season after, he became the first American-born player to score five goals in a single NHL game.
Pavelich went on to play briefly with the North Stars, followed by subsequent stints in Switzerland and Italy. He came back several years later to play two more games in the NHL with the Sharks, retiring for good after that season. Pavelich made news in 2014 when he sold his Olympic gold medal, in pursuit of financial security for his daughter. He now works in Minnesota as a land developer, preferring to stay as far away from the spotlight as possible.
#17 Jack O’Callahan (Defense)
O’Callahan managed to carve out a seven-year NHL career, playing five seasons with the Blackhawks and two more with the Devils. O’Callahan began a career in finance while still playing in the NHL, signing on with the Index and Option Division of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange in 1984.
After retiring from hockey in 1989, O’Callahan continued as a floor trader in the S&P 500 futures pit until 1998. During his time with the CME he became a co-founder and President of Beanpot Financial Services, a Boston-based financial advisory firm established in 1991. O’Callahan left Beanpot in 2015 and has since worked as a Senior Managing Director at Ziegler Capital Management, an asset management firm based in Chicago.
#19 Eric Strobel (Right Wing)
Despite signing with the Buffalo Sabres, Strobel never played a game in the NHL. Thirteen games into his professional hockey career with the AHL’s Rochester Americans, Strobel suffered a career-ending broken ankle. After hockey, Strobel went back to school and eventually took over his family’s acoustical contracting business, A.G. Strobel. Established in 1966, A.G. Strobel offers installation of acoustical ceiling systems, floor tile, and both vinyl and wood flooring.
Previously, Strobel has served as a telephone sales executive and was part owner of a golf club in Fifty Lakes, Minnesota. He also volunteered as a peewee hockey coach with the Eastview Youth Hockey Association, although a minor stroke in 2006 has since kept him off the ice. Despite dealing with impairments to both his vision and balance, Strobel is currently enjoying retirement in Minnesota.
#20 Bob Suter (Defense)
Father of current Minnesota Wild assistant captain Ryan Suter, Bob Suter was a physical force during his playing days. He was drafted by the LA Kings prior to the 1980 Olympics, although like Strobel, he never played an NHL game. Suter rejected the Kings’ eventual contract offer, electing to sit out the 1980-1981 season and become an unrestricted free agent. He signed with the Minnesota North Stars the following year, although after failing to break into the NHL he retired at the end of the season.
Suter then returned to his hometown of Madison, Wisconsin, opening a sporting goods store called Gold Medal Sports. He later became part owner and director of Capitol Ice Arena, located about twenty minutes from Madison in neighboring Middleton. Suter took a job as an NHL scout for the Wild in 2013, although his tenure would be short-lived. In a tragic turn of events the following year, Bob Suter passed away from a heart attack suffered at Capitol Ice Arena. The ice rink was later renamed in his honor.
#21 Mike Eruzione (Right Wing)
Mike Eruzione, captain of the Miracle team, is the ultimate American hero.
The unquestioned leader in the Americans’ locker room, Eruzione’s roster spot was more a product of his intangibles than anything. He overcame adversity repeatedly, barely making the team to begin with and narrowly avoiding being cut from the roster, twice. Coach Brooks ultimately elected to keep Eruzione, who went on to score the game-winning goal versus the Red Army. His crucial semifinal score remains a timeless testament to hard work and dedication, a perfect embodiment of the American spirit.
Although reportedly receiving a contract offer from the Rangers, Eruzione went undrafted and never played an NHL game. He has remained active in the world of hockey, however, previously serving as a commentator for both the Rangers and Devils. Additionally, he is part of the ownership group for the Omaha Lancers, a junior hockey team playing in the USHL. Eruzione currently works as a motivational speaker, and serves as Director of Special Outreach for Boston University, his alma mater.
#23 Dave Christian (Defense)
USA men’s hockey has only won two Olympic gold medals, the first of which came twenty years before Lake Placid. The 1960 team in Squaw Valley, California included Bill Christian, father of 1980 Olympic champion Dave Christian. To this day, Bill and Dave Christian are the only father-son pair in the history of USA men’s hockey with matching Olympic gold medals.
Drafted by the Jets in the 1979 NHL draft, the younger Christian would soon begin a lengthy professional career. He was made the Jets’ captain ahead of the 1982 season, although it would be his last in Winnipeg. The remainder of Christian’s fifteen-year NHL career would be split between the Capitals, Bruins, Blues, and Blackhawks. The University of North Dakota product went on to play two additional season in the IHL before calling it quits in 1996.
From 1997-2000, Christian served as head coach and general manager of the Fargo-Moorhead Ice Sharks, formerly of the USHL. He and Olympic teammate Mike Ramsey would go on to establish a hedge fund, Powerplay Capital Management (now inactive). Christian currently works as a technical services engineer with Cardinal Glass Industries in Fargo, North Dakota. His nephew, Brock Nelson, plays for the NHL’s New York Islanders.
#24 Rob McClanahan (Left Wing)
McClanahan played parts of five NHL seasons, seeing time with both the Sabres and Whalers before ending with Brooks’ Rangers. After retiring in 1984 McClanahan began working in finance, a career in which he is still active today. Following jobs at several different companies, McClanahan currently works in institutional equity sales trading with Craig-Hallum Capital Group, LLC.
#25 Buzz Schneider (Left Wing)
Drafted by the Penguins in 1974, Schneider was another member of the Miracle team who never played an NHL game. After playing several seasons in Switzerland, Schneider was forced to retire in 1982 due to a back injury. He then found work as a sales executive with a semi-trailer company, continuing in this role for almost twenty years. In 2001, Schneider began pursuit of a commercial real estate license, paving the way for his current career. Today, he works to assist land developers in finding property that might be suitable for various building projects.
Interestingly, the actor selected to portray Schneider in the 2004 Disney movie Miracle was none other than his son, Billy. Even more interestingly, the movie directors were not made aware of the father-son connection until after the cast list was finalized.
#27 Phil Verchota (Left Wing)
Apart from one season in Finland’s top league, Verchota did not play any professional hockey after the 1980 Winter Olympics. He did, however, return to captain the USA men’s hockey team at the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia. Despite the United States’ success in Lake Placid four years earlier, the Americans finished in seventh place in Sarajevo. Today, Verchota works on the management team at Deerwood Bank’s Bemidji, Minnesota branch.
#28 John Harrington (Right Wing)
Despite registering a secondary assist on Eruzione’s game-winning goal versus the Soviets, Harrington never made it to the NHL. He did return to the international stage, however, after a year in Switzerland and time in several other professional leagues. Joining Phil Verchota, Harrington was the only other member of the Miracle team to play in Sarajevo four years later.
Since then, Harrington has filled a wide variety of roles within the hockey world. He began as an assistant coach, first with the University of Denver in 1984 and then at St. Cloud State University in 1990. In 1993, Harrington was hired as head coach for Division III Saint John’s University in Minnesota. He left in 2008 for several years of coaching abroad, first in Switzerland’s top league and then in Italy’s.
Soon after, Harrington was brought aboard as head coach of the Slovenian men’s national team, a role he retained until 2011. He served as an NHL scout for the Avalanche from then until 2015, at which point he left for his current role. Harrington is now the head coach of the women’s hockey team at Minnesota State University.
#30 Jim Craig (Goalie)
The Americans’ starting netminder played in a total of thirty NHL games, split between the Flames, Bruins, and North Stars. Since retiring from hockey in 1984, Craig has enjoyed a lengthy career in sales and marketing. Following a brief stint with the Marketing Corporation of America, he worked in management with Valassis Communications for over seventeen years. In addition, from 1994-1996 Craig doubled as an assistant coach with Northeastern University’s men’s hockey team.
After switching employers from Valassis to Keystone Incentives in 2002, Craig left four years later to start his own company. His brainchild, the aptly named Gold Medal Strategies, is a marketing and promotions firm in Boston. Conveniently, Craig’s company also manages his highly successful career as an award-winning public speaker.