Wednesday

Steve Janaszak

It was the greatest moment in American hockey history. In the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics, a bunch of college kids upset the mighty Big Red Machine from the Soviet Union en route to capturing the gold medal. Mike Eruzione was forever immortalized for his goal, while many players from that team went on to significant NHL careers.

The person with the best seat for the whole Olympic tournament was backup goaltender Steve Janaszak. Playing second fiddle to hero Jim Craig, Janaszak was the only player on any team in that Olympic tournament who didn't see even a second's worth of ice time.

"Yeah, a lot of people don't even know I was there, which is just fine," Janaszak admits in a CNNSI.com interview. "That's what I tell people. I had the best seat in the house there, timing the shifts for [head coach] Herb [Brooks.] And making sure I don't spill my tea."

Janaszak took his regular turn between the pipes during the pre-season and exhibition games, but once Team USA got to Lake Placid, he was relegated to the bench by the stellar play of Jim Craig.

Janaszak fully understood..

"He played phenomenal goal," Janaszak remembers of Craig's play in front of the net. "You don't mess with that."

Janaszak did get his few minutes of fame in that tournament too though, or so his teammates will have you believe.

"I've been accused of knowing where the cameras were," he said with a laugh as he held up the original game jersey with his name on the back. "But yeah, the name shows up and it's reasonably recognized in a lot of photographs that came out of this, which is kind of funny."

Janaszak is now an unassuming investment banker working on the 85th floor of the World Trade Center in New York City. Many of his co-workers have no idea of his sporting past..

"There are people that I've dealt with for years that have no idea that this is part of my background and then they find out and again, they've got the answer to a great trivia question that they never lose on," Janaszak said.

If forced, Janaszak loves to talk about the Olympics. One of his favorite stories shows how far reaching the victory was.

"And I'm hearing stories about guys in ships at sea wiring the Russian submarines that they're tracking around and saying, 'Ha-ha, we beat you guys,'" Janaszak said.

"The gold medal to me is living proof that miracles do happen and possible dreams do come true," he said.

Steve did get into parts of 3 NHL games, but otherwise his short professional career was limited to bouncing around the minor leagues until retirement in 1983. The former NCAA playoff MVP (he led his University of Minnesota to the NCAA title in 1979), Janaszak played in a 2-2 tie late in 1980 with the Minnesota North Stars. He later signed as a free agent with the Colorado Rockies and appeared in two games in 1981-82, but was shell-shocked with 13 goals against in 100 minutes of action.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Colorado Rockies is a baseball team ... Pretty sure he played for the Avalanche

Joe Pelletier said...

LOL - that made my night

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