Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Erie's Role in Micracle on Ice Flag Story

So, I think this is what happened: Swedish goalie Pelle Lindbergh and USA goalie Jim Craig met and became friends at the 1980 Olympics. According to the show Sport Detectives, which I watched last night on the Smithsonian Channel, the two apparently played a lot of video games in the Olympic Village in Lake Placid. After the Olympics ended, Craig, an Olympic hero, went to the Flames for the end of the 1979-80 season before playing for the Bruins in 1980-81 season. He wasn't very effective at either stop, and for the 1981-82 season, Craig found himself playing for the Bruins top minor league affiliate—the Erie Blades, in their only year competing in the AHL (a step higher than where the team had traditionally competed and had much success).

In the meantime, Lindbergh, who would go on to have mercurial success with the Philadelphia Flyers, before being tragically killed in a car crash, was toiling for the AHL's Main Mariners on his way up the latter. The story goes, at least according to Sports Detectives, that during the 1981-82 season, Lindbergh and Craig got together at the Ramada Inn bar in Erie, where Craig give Lindbergh what he thought was the iconic flag that had been draped around him after the gold medal clinching game vs. Finland:

The Sports Detective episode was about the search for that flag, and the flag the Craig gave to Lindbergh did not end up being that flag, although Craig thought it was at the time. Apparently the real flag is now up for sale.

Anyhow, it kinda floored me to hear Erie mentioned in the context of all this, first by a former Philadelphia trainer, who was at the Ramada with Lindbergh and Craig and witnessed their discussion; he also remained friends with Lindbergh and his fiance, who inherited the flag after his death. Craig, of course, did have to make some comment about the meeting in Erie like, "We were like, 'How did we end up here after the Olympics?" But, oh well.

At least I think I got the story straight. I was kinda dozing off and distracted until I heard Erie mentioned.

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