Jason Brough


‘Miracle on Ice’ goalie Jim Craig selling gold medal


NEW YORK (AP) The 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team’s victory over the Soviet Union is forever remembered as the “Miracle on Ice.”

Now, the goaltender of that gold medal-winning team, Jim Craig, is parting with his most prized items from one of the greatest sporting moments of the 20th century.

Estimated to bring between $5 million and $7 million, the 17 items are being offered through the online auction house Lelands.com.

The sale went live Tuesday and ends June 17.

Items include Craig’s gold medal, with a pre-sale estimate of $1.5 million to $2 million.

Other highlights are the jersey he wore during the Soviet game, and the American flag that was draped over his shoulders after the team’s victory at Lake Placid. Both carry estimates of $1 million to $1.5 million.

The items are being sold individually after Lelands was unable to sell the entire collection last year.

Young Sharks forwards have ‘answered a lot of questions regarding our depth’: DeBoer

ST LOUIS, MO - MAY 15:  Troy Brouwer #36 of the St. Louis Blues skates against Chris Tierney #50 of the San Jose Sharks in Game One of the Western Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center on May 15, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Hey, remember back in November when the Sharks were so desperate for bottom-six depth that they signed 37-year-old Dainius Zubrus?

How times have changed since then.

Now the Sharks’ forward depth is seen as a strength, thanks in large part to the growth of youngsters like Joonas Donskoi, Chris Tierney, and Melker Karlsson.

“We’ve got a lot of young guys we’ve asked to do a lot, put in big roles, big responsibilities,” coach Pete DeBoer said prior to Game 2 of the Western Conference Final. “They’ve all shown up and played hard and answered the bell, and I think answered a lot of questions regarding our depth.”

In that way, the Sharks are a lot like the Pittsburgh Penguins, the team they could possibly meet in the Stanley Cup Final. The Penguins had major depth concerns as well; they’ve been buoyed by the likes of Conor Sheary, Bryan Rust, and Tom Kuhnhackl.

One youngster the Sharks won’t have tonight is forward Matt Nieto. He’s still out with an undisclosed injury.

“The fact he’s on the ice every day, he’s getting better,” said DeBoer. “He’ll be day-to-day.”

But Donskoi, Tierney, and Karlsson will be in there. And if not for them, their coach doesn’t think the Sharks would still be playing.

“I think they’ve been exceptional,” said DeBoer. “I think we wouldn’t be here without all those guys.”

Coyotes are ‘well aware that our spending needs to rise’

GLENDALE, AZ - MARCH 05:  Antoine Vermette #50 of the Arizona Coyotes celebrates with teammates Michael Stone #26, Oliver Ekman-Larsson #23, Anthony Duclair #10 and Alex Tanguay #40 after his third period goal against the Florida Panthers at Gila River Arena on March 5, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)

Just because the Arizona Coyotes have embraced analytics doesn’t mean they’re ignoring the good ol’ power of the dollar.

If the Coyotes are going to win a Stanley Cup one day, they understand it won’t come cheap.

“The management staff has faith that the current ownership group is going to do whatever it takes to have an all-around better team on the ice,” the club’s new director of hockey ops, Gary Drummond (also a co-owner), told Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.

“As that evolves we’re well aware that our spending needs to rise to, realistically, the midpoint (of the NHL) or higher. There’s absolutely no way, long-term, that you can be competitive at the low end of the payroll. It doesn’t work.”

And that’s why the Coyotes need to strike an arena deal that works for them. Whether it’s moving back downtown, or somewhere else in the East Valley, the one thing their new home has to do is increase revenues.

Drummond called a new arena a “definite cornerstone of our long-term plan,” and added that “we are extremely optimistic such will happen.”

The Coyotes have said they’d be “shocked” if they don’t make an arena announcement sometime before the draft on June 24, and that they have “every intention of leaving Glendale as soon as practicable.”

Related: ‘Any idiot’ can spend to the cap: Melnyk

‘All the injuries’ forced Blues to buy in: Hitch

ST LOUIS, MO - MAY 15:  Head Coach Ken Hitchcock of the St. Louis Blues talks with players during Game One of the Western Conference Final against the San Jose Sharks during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center on May 15, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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Ken Hitchcock has a reputation for being hard on his players, for nagging them, for never letting them forget the right way to play.

In a lot of ways, it’s what makes him a great head coach. He knows the game, and he knows exactly what he wants from his players.

But sometimes, instead of being told over and over, the best way for people to learn the right way is by doing it the wrong way, and finding out what happens.

“We wanted to play this funky, slow way,” Hitchcock told reporters today. “Rather than battle them on it all the time, I just let them bury [themselves]. Then they started to grab it on their own.”

Of course, a depleted lineup also helped — or, forced — the Blues to buy in.

“When we had all the injuries, the sense of urgency to play one way became paramount with everybody because we had no choice. We had to really dig in and play that way. Then they found even more success. They bought it themselves,” Hitchcock said.

“I’m not sure without the injuries that it wouldn’t have taken more time. Man, when we had all those people go down, we had no choice but to play one way. They bought in big-time.”

The style that Hitchcock demands is not an easy one to play on a consistent basis. It takes a lot of commitment, and sometimes during an 82-game regular season, a team is going to fall short.

Recall what Hitchcock said during a tough stretch back in December: “This is a league, the more you check, the more you have the puck. The more you stay on the hunt, the more you play on your toes, the more you close gaps, the more you have the puck. When you’re inconsistent in that level, you open it up. This has been an ongoing theme for a little while and we’ve got to get it solved.”

The Blues did get it solved eventually, and now they’re three wins from the Stanley Cup Final.

Related: Blues owner doesn’t really care if the players ‘hate’ Hitch

Caps GM: Penguins’ speed ‘took over’ at times

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 02:  Carl Hagelin #62 of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates his second-period goal against Braden Holtby #70 of the Washington Capitals in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Consol Energy Center on May 2, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

The Pittsburgh Penguins made the Washington Capitals look slow. On that, most observers can agree.

For the Caps, the question now is whether that was due more to personnel or tactics.

“Overall, I don’t think we’re a slow team, but I think at times, we get exposed with the really fast teams,” said GM Brian MacLellan, per CSN Washington. “Dallas, Pittsburgh, we did struggle sometimes with the pace of the game. I don’t think all of the time. I think sometimes I see it more as we don’t enforce our style of play on the speed team. We sit back and let them do the speed game.”

Certainly, guys like Carl Hagelin and Phil Kessel used their speed effectively against Washington. The Caps, meanwhile, tried to employ more of a heavy style. Maybe not quite as heavy as the Los Angeles Kings or St. Louis Blues, but in that neighborhood.

“The Pittsburgh series, I think at times their speed took over, and then at times, we took over with a physical, pressure style, physical strength style of play,” said MacLellan. “It went back and forth quite a bit. I think it’s on us, the style we want to play, upon the speed teams, so while speed is a factor, I think we need to enforce the way we want to play on teams, and more consistently.”

MacLellan is unlikely to make drastic changes to the lineup, so while there may be a few tweaks here and there, the Capitals’ ability to handle faster teams may depend largely on the adjustments that head coach Barry Trotz makes.

“That’s something that we’re really going to talk about,” Trotz said, per the Washington Post. “It’s been – not an issue – but it’s been brought up. … They throw pucks to space and use some of that speed to create some of that, so it makes you look a lot faster sometimes. We’re going to look at it from a style standpoint and some of the teams that have been doing that a little bit.”