A/N: I don't pretend to know what went through the minds of the real Miracle team, but Wayne Coffey is the authority on the whole affair so check out his book, The Boys of Winter. I'd also like to mention that the 1980 Olympic gold and silver medalists in ladies figure skating were East Germany's Annett Pötzch and the United States' Linda Fratianne. At the time triple jumps were something revolutionary and the only two that the women performed were the triple Salchow and toe loop, and Fratianne was one of the triple jumping prodigies of her time. For more info on that check out Beverly Smith's Figure Skating: A Celebration and Sandra Bezic's The Passion to Skate. Oh yeah, I recently got a hold of the 1981 ABC TV movie Miracle on Ice starring Karl Malden as Herb Brooks, it was corny, produced on a shoestring, had a teleplay pieced out of clichés, and RIDICULOUSLY overacted (hey, it was the 80s people) but still fun and drew a little inspiration for this li'l ditty.
Disclaimer: I own nothing but the OCs.
By Saoirse the Irish Colleen
Chapter I: Talk Me Into It
She liked it when he pulled her wrists over her head. She liked him. But she was smart and kept her mouth shut. God forbid he ever shut up. He said she had a nice body, for a kid. It was a punch to her 18-year-old pride; then again he didn't get the concept of room parties. She was 16 when she gave it up to a 30-year-old Russian with a dacha that made his New England colonial look sick. But his arrogance paid off with a 16-0-0 season. His championship ring winked at her in the sunlight.
She wasn't afraid. Not of him, or his town. And she brushed off her agent- their agent- when he advised her against wearing a North Stars T-shirt for an on-camera interview framed by the skyline of the city that bled black and gold. She wasn't doing this to prove anything.
So what the fuck was she doing this for?
The night before the pre-game a reception was held at the Sheraton. Brooks loved free publicity (even if it was on enemy territory) bringing the staff and team (fidgety in their only suits) fronting coolness with a touch of elegance which was why he insisted that the U foot the bill for Patti's plane ticket. Her former profession, nursing, instilled a tolerance for the sport that only a case of Chardonnay (on the spot) could provide. She made a beeline for the open bar to mingle with the other hockey wives. Callie being a Boston resident for the last three years tagged along accompanied by her agent quickly detaching himself checking on his other investments. She was 17 and being Janny's baby sister- who was more popular than the lot- found herself many a photographer's favorite target. Her dress was green with a fairy hem held up on her lithe, white body by straps. Jimmy wondered if she was making fun of his shamrocks.
Callie saw the black-haired goalie maneuver his way to get his draft glass refilled and smiled. Too complicated to be fun, she thought. An hour later she joined Patti poolside on a settee behind some tall plants, it was an Indian summer worsened by the booze. The older woman swished a glass filled to the brim with red and Callie began to get giddy from the double rum and cokes. Rough Bostonian accents stifled their gossiping.
"Ya didn't get up once tonight, Jimbo." O.C. said, the psycho captain on D worshiped by the puck fucks and Parker alike.
"More of the same and less interesting."
"Janaszak's sister was lookin' mighty tasty." O.C. baited him.
"I could hardly stand to watch." Jimmy snorted. Callie slapped a hand over her mouth killing a laugh.
"We never spoke, and he's insulting me." She hissed to Patti. She pulled down a frond and saw the pair of them sharing a silver flask.
"A real piece of work. You see The Hockey News?" The striped tie wagged like a tongue from O.C.'s jacket pocket.
"The pinup girl to make every cowtipper's dick stand." Jim screwed the cap back on and tossed it to O.C. "Crowned prince and princess of the Midwest enjoying a day out complete with hot fudge sundaes and bobbysoxing it up to Rock Around the Clock." It was a PR tactic trying to revamp the Barbara Ann Scott/Gordie Howe sports section romance to drum up ticket sales for the current national champs from the University of Wisconsin and the Tom Collins tour. Callie spent the day in Milwaukee doing her rounds with Badger Bob's son Mark Johnson until they went back to her hotel so she could collect her fee. It was nice, but Wisconsinites and Minnesotans were interchangeable.
That didn't mean Callie wasn't climbing the walls in Boston.
Patti scrunched her nose silently advising Callie to leave it be and they plunged back into the ballroom. Callie helped herself to some punch and checked out the remaining talent. Rizzo was the kind of self-effacing nice guy who'd smile before busting your knees open. Then there was Buzzy, her old teammate from the Innsbruck Games. It was too easy to fall in love with him. But he was Gayle's property and the Babbitt Rabbit would be in his 40's by the time he grew up. Baker who'd been tapped for captain recently was blonde and lovely. And had the attention span of a gnat fucking. Silky was more adept at flirting because he'd have passed out before she could kick off her shoes. And finally there was rich bitch Robbie. He was a finance major whose jeans were $60 bucks a pop. Then she saw him throwing away some dental floss exiting the men's room.
Callie scanned the table hoping to find a bigger glass. She was so busy mentally whining about a cold bed she failed to see someone had beaten her to the punch ladle.
"Oh sorry!" She smiled genuinely stunned. "My faux pas. Go ahead." Gauging Jimmy's lack of reaction he was undoubtedly congratulating himself on seeing through her flattery. Callie refused wait for him so she dipped her glass into the syrupy spiked red drink. As his jacket and shirt cuff shifted she noticed the smart-looking digital watch. It was silver and looked fairly new.
"What?" That came off a bit more abrasive than he usually was.
"Your digital watch." Callie pointed out. "I'd never seen one- up close, I mean!" She clarified hoping to deflect the hick barb on the tip of his tongue. "It's really cool." Jimmy demurred.
"Yeah," he twisted his wrist, "birthday gift from my brother Dan. Thanks."
"Wow." Callie raised her glass. "Sounds like a guy with taste. I'd like to meet him." She traipsed off knowing he'd be hot on her heels.
The band played a reel with a punk rock backbeat. Callie ensconced herself against a gold mirrored pillar to watch. The steps and formations were intricate, a little too much for her Vaganova ballet trained feet. Truth be told she didn't want to look like an idiot. Her mother was Ukrainian and her father was Polish. She had as much business in a St. Patrick's Day parade as the Pope getting Bar Mitzvahed. She played it cool keeping her eyes on the dance floor as Jimmy casually sidled up to her. He wisely dumped the punch for a Molson's.
"Not dancing tonight, Mr. Craig? I thought this type of thing was right up your alley."
"Didn't see you accepting any offers Miz Janaszak." Jimmy retorted. Callie didn't do herself any favors by refusing the few guys that did ask her to dance. It was a laugh and a half watching his roommate Billy LeBlond, O.C.'s Harvard buddy Jack Hughes, and that ape Verchota strike out with her. No finesse, then again their reps preceded them. Back in the day when Jimmy wasn't making Coach Linehan's life easy he also was a catcher for Oliver Ames High's varsity baseball team. Now it was hardly cannon fire, but his hand-eye coordination was topnotch and his centering was heaven-sent. After sizing up the other team's pitcher, everything else was like reading the funnies.
Chicks worked similarly. His last steady date was Linda, an alpha bitch puckbunny who was clawing her way up to NHL wife, Linda latched onto the players with prospective contracts that included fat bonuses. Now the Flames had been courting him, going down 72nd in the draft on its fourth round with only two other Americans on the roster, ironically Mark Johnson six spots ahead. Jimmy's manager Bob Murray was trying to negotiate a nice number to get him interested in signing on. But that meant dropping out (name one pro hockey player who didn't) and dashing his mother's Lake Placid dream. Jimmy could give a shit about school, he wasn't dumb, but he wasn't stellar. He honestly wished he could be shameless like O.C. and openly nap during a lecture. Athletes who got full rides didn't bother with class, but suffering the wrath of his sister Maureen just didn't make hooky worth it.
Unfortunately the Craig clan was falling on hard times. After Vietnam the bottom dropped out of the economy and that meant layoffs. His father was set to get bumped from his position as Dean Junior College's food service manager. Manager! He had fucking seniority! The house was paid for and with six older kids on their own lightened the load, but insurance was a bitch. His mother's cancer treatment nearly bled them dry, but his father's paycheck (with donations from dear friends) made it seem like Fort Knox was in their back yard. Don Craig's pension and social security amounted to shit. The last time Jimmy emptied out the ashtrays he punched a hole into the wall- with his catching hand. Don hadn't lit up in front of Jimmy since.
The pressure to sign would only build, and while his strut was well-deserved there were plenty of guys between the pipes who could make the Olympic cut. There were other variables as well; who the coach was, his style, and whether it would be just a half-assed attempt at respectability considering the USA's 5th place finish at Innsbruck.
Jimmy took a powerful swig of his brewsky determined to keep his outlook in the short-term: the 1978 Frozen Four tourney, taking back the Beanpot trophy from Harvard (then shoving it up BC's ass), tomorrow's grandiose ass-kicking of the Golden Gophers, and most importantly tonight's naked performance of Callie Janaszak in his dorm.
"He's married y'know."
"I'm sorry?" Callie said.
"My older brother."
"Really," Callie daintily sipped her punch, "should that stop anybody these days?" She said indifferently. Jimmy gawked like a dead fish momentarily before she burst out laughing. He fell for that hook, line, and sinker mentally beating his head in with the blade of his stick.
Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!
"Give it up Craig, I had you there." His electric blue eyes glittered; he was being forced into extending the black hatred of regionalism to the china doll posing before him.
"Watch your step Janaszak," he warned. "What you do might end up biting you in the ass."
"I wouldn't talk." Callie hooted. "You know Joe Concannon says you're one of his favorite interview subjects. And I'm not surprised what with all the shit you talk ending up in The Globe. That alone is enough to put his kids through Boston University!"
"Well then I guess we're pretty lucky to have the same manager so we can keep tabs on each other." It was a pretty good rejoinder that was tragically flawed because of one minute detail.
"Aww Jim," Callie purred standing on the toes of her ankle strap pumps. "You forget, I'm Minnesotan." She smoothed her hands up and down his toned chest. "And we've got subtlety down to an art." She laid her head dreamily onto his chest.
"You're such a bitch, and I am impressed with how you've managed to fool everybody- but me." His large, calloused hand slid down over her ass and pinched it. Callie stood 5'5" and Jimmy was 6'2", her head fit nicely under his chin giving the impression that they were dancing which deterred suspicion.
"And assholes like you will be forever cock-blocked. But according to Joey Mullen, you were the all-time scorer in pity pussy last year."
"You're taking calls from him now?" Jimmy said with mock incredulity.
"Look, Jim, we can do this little two-step all night." She broke away from him putting her fist on her hip mimicking her coach on the morning she left her at the rink making her decide whether she wanted to be a skater or a jumper. "Now I know what I want." A beat. "What do you want?" Jimmy knew if he was anything, he was excruciatingly forthright. Her red lipstick had that gloss that made her mouth look wet…
Jack O'Callahan watched that cake eater Rob McClanahan hold court with sponsors regaling them with tales from Poly-Sci 401. O.C. signaled the barkeep to keep the tequila coming, but instead of numbing him out the Cuervo enhanced the ′76 playoffs play-by-play of Mac boarding him into IMAX…
Callie's wavy bright auburn hair bled through Jimmy's long fingers, draping over his arms. Her lipstick was completely licked off. She loosed the knot on his big ugly red tie. A button popped open and she glimpsed his dense black hair. He smelled like mint oil and fleece, an Irish winter. Neither heard the crash, but Callie screamed feeling the floor leave her feet after Jimmy pulled them down. Pulverized glass was everywhere; a chair was on its side in the middle of the dance floor. Jimmy scrambled to where O.C. and Mac were wrestling. Callie honestly didn't think she'd see him again after that disastrous night.
A/N: A little movie trivia: Digital watches made their informal debut in ′70 as a novelty but didn't get released into mass markets until ′75. If anybody noticed Eddie wore a silver digital watch of that era that's visible in the medal ceremony and that brief "scene" where he's meeting with Russell. On Jim Craig's revamped website he links his recently launched Facebook page, and in his photos section are two black and white shots of him on the podium wearing that same silver digital watch.