Dave Christian was born into the first family of hockey in tiny Warroad, Minnesota. The town of 1700 residents proclaimed themselves as Hockeytown, USA for years before Detroit stole it.
The heroes of Hockeytown were no doubt the Christians. Uncle Gordon started the Olympic pedigree, earning a silver medal with Team USA in 1956. Dave’s father Bill and uncle Roger both played for the 1960 Olympic gold medal winning Team USA, with Bill scoring the winning goal. The two went on to compete in the 1964 Olympics as well, before forming, along with brother-in-law Hal Bakke, Christian Brothers hockey stick company in Warroad.
No doubt most of the kids growing up in the area would use Christian sticks, including Bill’s own two sons Eddie and Dave. Eddie made it all to way to the minor leagues.
But it was Dave Christian who would go on to the greatest degree of success. He was a blessed skater, armed with good puck skills and a mind for the game. He effortlessly played both defense and forward. He was a natural athlete, also starring in football, baseball and track in his youth.
After starring for the Warroad high school team he left for University of North Dakota. He followed in his father’s skate marks to the Olympic games, starring with the 1980 Miracle On Ice gold medal winning team. Though he was a scoring forward at North Dakota, coach Herb Brooks utilized Christian on the blue line for the Olympics, and never missed a beat. He was able to control the game by himself, a trait of only the most special players.
Christian never returned to UND, opting for the NHL instead. It didn’t take long for Christan to make his mark in the big leagues, either. Just 7 seconds into his career Christian scored his first goal, a NHL record that still stands to this day.
The consistent Christian went on to score 340 goals and 433 assists in 1,009 NHL regular season games. He is perhaps best remembered as a member of the Winnipeg Jets and the Washington Capitals, though he also played with Chicago, Boston and St. Louis. Christian also continued to embrace the international game, playing in two world championships and three Canada Cups when the NHL schedule allowed for it. Christian finished his career back in Manitoba, playing in the IHL with the Moose.
For all his success in hockey, it is the 1980 Olympic gold medal that will always rank as his greatest achievement.
As author Wayne Coffey wrote in the book The Boys of Winter:
“Dave Christian used to read his father’s scrapbook as a kid and dream about being in the Olympics himself. he doesn’t really have words for it, either. “To have that come true, to be in that position, playing against Russia, with my father and my uncle in the stands…for me it was as impossible and far-fetched a dream as you could have.”
Originally posted here at Greatest Hockey Legends: Dave Christian
Category: Jets Biographies