Jim Craig's 'Miracle on Ice' memorabilia is up for auction: 6 most valuable items

If you've got a few hundred thousand dollars laying around you can be the proud owner of some memorabilia from one of the most famous sporting events in history.

Jim Craig, the goaltender for U.S. ice hockey team at the 1980 Winter Olympics, is auctioning off many of his most prized artifacts from those Olympics which, of course, included the Miracle on Ice. Craig had attempted to sell the collection in full through Lelands last fall. The price tag was set at a stunning $5.7 million.

Unable to find a buyer during the private sale, the items are now being auctioned off separately through Lelands. The online auction began Tuesday.

While everyone remembers the iconic moment that was Mike Eruzione's game-winning goal, it was Craig's goaltending performance that made the Miracle possible. He made 36 saves against the Soviet Union's vaunted hockey team as the U.S. earned the stunning 4-3 win. Two days later, Craig made 21 saves against Finland as the U.S. claimed the gold medal.

The goaltender was also one of the bigger human interest stories during those Olympics as he had recently lost his mother not long before leaving to try out for the team. After the gold-medal game, cameras were trained on Craig, draped in an American flag, as he searched the crowd for his father to share the moment with him. That became one of the lasting images of those Olympics. That flag is one of the items that will be up for auction.

Craig says he is selling his Miracle memorabilia to "ensure a healthy financial future" for his children and grandchildren. Some of the proceeds will also be donated to various charities that Craig is involved with.

Here are the five most expensive things on the auction block based on their value as estimated by Lelands:

1. Craig's 1980 gold medal - Estimated value: $1 million to $1.5 million

The gold medal, inscribed with Craig's name, comes in its original box. The medals were designed by Tiffany & Co., and is said to be in original condition. The auction house notes that Jesse Owens' gold medal from the 1936 Olympics sold for $1.47 million at auction, according to Lelands. Craig's Miracle teammate Mark Wells sold his gold medal at auction for $310,000.

2. The American flag draped over Craig after the Finland game - $1 million to $1.5 million

Photo-matched with the help of a forensic investigator from the FBI, the flag is an interesting item on a number of levels. First off, the flag originates with New York native Peter Cappuccilli who drove up to Lake Placid to go to the game against Finland. He had brought the flag with him. When some fans rushed the ice following Team USA's win, Cappuccilli made a beeline for Craig to give him the flag. As Craig scanned the crowd for his father, Cappuccilli draped the flag over him. The goalie was later photographed holding his goaltending stick and the flag, which has become an iconic image.

The flag is yellowed and frayed a bit. It also has a split in it, which is actually original to before Craig ever came in contact with it. And in the true spirit of a bygone era, the players actually gave Cappuccilli the flag back after the celebration was over. It wasn't until years later that the New York native presented the flag back to Craig in a ceremony during the AHL All-Star Game in 1998.

Another interesting thing about the flag is that there was some dispute as to the authenticity of the one Craig received that night at the AHL All-Star Game. Others claimed to have had it.

This was documented on a recent episode of the Smithsonian Channel's new show Sports Detectives. The wild chase to confirm the authenticity and whereabouts of the flag led them back to Lelands after they learned of Craig's desire to sell the items. It was once again confirmed as the original.

Jim Craig's jersey worn during the "Miracle on Ice" is estimated to be worth over $1 million. Lelands

3. The white jersey from the Miracle on Ice - $750,000 to $1 million

This is the jersey that Craig wore in the Miracle on Ice game where he backstopped the U.S. to its improbable victory over the Soviets. The jersey was manufactured in Minnesota and comes with its original tag. Mike Eruzione, Team USA's captain during the Olympics, had his jersey from the Miracle on Ice was sold at auction for $657,250 in 2013.

4. The blue jersey from the USA-Finland Game - $500,000 to $1 million

The jersey Craig wore in the final game against Finland that sealed the gold medal game has a lower range in value, but it's still a pretty important piece of fabric. That iconic photo of Craig with the flag probably helps increase the appeal of this item. Mike Eruzione's jersey from the game against Finland sold for $286,800 at auction in 2013. The reserve price is set at $50,000.

5. Craig's game-used stick vs. USSR and Finland - $300,000-$400,000

The stick that Craig used in both of the crucial games that helped the U.S. claim the gold medal is also up for auction. The Northland brand goalie paddle, complete with the tape, which is showing wear, was a much more important piece of the goalie's equipment back then. Craig made several stops with the stick in the Miracle game as he defended the net against a 39-shot barrage. Eruzione's stick used to score the game-winning goal against the USSR was sold at auction for $262,900 in 2013sold at auction for $262,900 in 2013.

6. Craig's iconic goalie mask worn throughout the Olympics - $250,000 to $350,000

I was a little surprised to see the value of this item significantly lower than the jerseys and stick mainly because Craig's mask was such a huge part of his look at the Olympics. Everyone remembers the shamrocks on the outer edges of his eye holes. That might be why the price is a little lower, though. The shamrock decals are gone. Apparently Craig took them off and replaced them with American flags as he continued to play. Now there are no decals on the mask, but you can see the outlines of the adhesive where the shamrocks once were on the mask.

Other items Craig has put up for auction include his skates, pads, blocker glove and hockey pants. He also has half of his tracksuit worn during the gold medal ceremony including the pants and shoes. He gave the jacket to someone as a gift. Other items like his Olympic jacket, warmup suit, an autographed stick and his opening ceremonies outfit are also up for auction. You can see the full lot here.

It would appear unlikely that Craig is going to get what these items were valued at. Eruzione's bundle of memorabilia sold for less than it was perceived to be worth. That said, Craig is going to probably manage to take home a lot of money for selling off these pieces of memorabilia to accomplish whatever he wants to with the proceeds.

So, who's up for pooling a couple hundred thousand dollars together? The auction closes on June 17.

CBS Sports Writer

Chris Peters has been a hockey writer for CBS Sports since 2012. Prior to that, he wrote for numerous outlets and edited the United States of Hockey blog, covering the sport at all levels. Peters also... Full Bio

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