3 Miracle on Ice Players Who Became Blues

Most famously known as “Miracle on Ice,” an ice hockey game during the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York, became one of the most infamous moments in Olympic history. The game was played between the hosting United States and the Soviet Union on Feb. 22, 1980. As tensions rose around the Cold War, it evolved from something more than just a hockey game at the Olympics. The Soviets had won five of the last six Winter Olympic Games and were favorites once more. In what became one of the biggest upsets in Olympic history, the United States team won 4-3. Of the 20 players listed on the 1980 United States roster, three would become members of the St. Louis Blues in the NHL.

Bill Baker

One of the shorter careers of the Miracle on Ice players, Baker played one year in St. Louis. He was drafted 54th overall by the Montreal Canadiens in 1976.

On Dec. 4, 1981, the Blues acquired the defenseman from the Colorado Rockies in exchange for Dick Lamby and Joe Micheletti. He appeared in 35 games for the Blues, scoring three goals and eight points. He played his final 70 NHL games with the New York Rangers during the 1982-83 season, where he scored four goals and 18 points. After an additional season in the minor leagues, he opted to retire and left hockey altogether to become an oral surgeon. 

Dave Christian

One of the most successful NHLers of all the members of the 1980 USA team, Christian’s name also became involved in one of the more controversial moments in NHL history. The Blues signed the restricted free agent to a three-year contract worth $1.5 million. The move took time to sort out as the Boston Bruins stated that the player was not eligible for free agency at the time, and they accused the Blues’ front office (from ‘Sports People: Hockey; Blues Get Christian’ The New York Times, July 31, 1991) of tampering. The two teams settled their disagreement over the right-winger in July 1991, as the forward was listed as compensation for the Bruins’ signings of Glen Featherstone and Dave Thomlinson. In addition to the winger, the Blues also gained a 1992 third-round draft pick and their choice of either a 1992 seventh-round draft pick or 1993 sixth-round draft pick. 

Dave Christian St. Louis Blues
Dave Christian, St. Louis Blues (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

Christian played in 1,009 regular-season games over 15 seasons in the NHL, scoring 340 goals and 433 points. He played for the Winnipeg Jets, Washington Capitals, Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, and the Blues. 

Mark Johnson

The leading scorer (five goals, six assists) for the United States at Lake Placid, Johnson was one of the most underrated stars on the team. His two goals against the Soviet Union during their Miracle on Ice game, including his first-period buzzer-beating goal, will forever be marked as one of the greatest goals in USA hockey history.

The St. Louis Blues acquired the 27-year-old forward, Johnson, and goaltender Greg Millen from the Hartford Whalers on Feb. 21, 1985, in a blockbuster exchange that sent all-star goaltender Mike Liut to the Whalers. At the time of the trade, Liut was still a top goaltender in the NHL, but the trade boiled down to one thing: money. Liut was the highest-paid player (from ‘The NHL : When Blues Sent Liut to Hartford, It Broke the Ice in Trade Activity’ The LA Times, March 1, 1985) for the Blues at $900,000, and the cost-conscious organization was able to move his contract while acquiring two players that combined earned less than him in Millen ($400,000) and Johnson ($250,000). 

Related: 3 Miracle on Ice Players Who Became Devils

The club ultimately traded Johnson to the New Jersey Devils in Sept. 1985 for defenseman Shawn Evans and a 1986 fifth-round pick (Mike Wolak). Due to a rib injury, Johnson only dressed for 17 games for the Blues, scoring four goals and 10 points. He appeared in 669 regular-season games with the New Devils, Pittsburgh Penguins, Hartford Whalers, Minnesota North Stars, and St. Louis Blues, where he scored 203 goals and 508 points. While the Blues organization may have not gotten the best years out of this group of international hockey stars, the three individuals to wear the Blue Note will forever add to the franchises storied history.

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