Some of the things you read on the Internet just aren’t true, like a tweet from a few days ago that said Avalanche forward Jayson Megna grew up in the Illinois home that was the setting for Cameron’s house in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” – the house in which Cameron’s dad’s classic Ferrari was stored in a panoramic glassed-in room.
“I got a couple of texts from people asking about that,” Megna said Monday night. “But, no, it’s not true. I did live about 15 miles from that house I think though.”
Here’s what is true about Jayson Megna, and to many it might come as an even bigger shock than the Ferris Bueller urban myth: his father-in-law is none other than USA Hockey icon Jim Craig, the goaltender who led the Americans to the gold medal in Lake Placid, N.Y., at the 1980 Winter Olympics. In their list of the 100 Greatest Moments in sports history, Sports Illustrated ranked the USA 4-3 win over Russia at No. 1.
Craig, with the American flag draped around him after the gold-medal win over Finland, became probably the most famous member of the team. His “Where’s my father? Where’s my father?” on the TV screen right after the win became one of the many lasting images of what became known as “The Miracle on Ice.” Tuesday is the 41st anniversary of the USA win over Russia, one of the biggest upsets in sports history.
Megna, who will play for the Avalanche tonight against the Vegas Golden Knights, is married to Craig’s daughter, Taylor. The couple is expecting its first child, a girl, in about 10 days and Jim Craig is expected to fly to Colorado to be there for the birth. Megna met Taylor when the two were at Tabor Academy, a prep school with a strong hockey reputation, in Marion, Mass. They were married in July, 2018.
“Of course, I knew not too long after we met who her dad was. But when we actually first met, I didn’t know,” Megna told Colorado Hockey Now.
So, what’s it like to have U.S. hockey icon as a father-in-law?
“He’s great, just an awesome guy. We’ve grown very close,” Megna said. “He’s somebody who you can talk to about just about anything, about hockey or life. I feel like we have a bit of a bond in the sense that we both come from backgrounds in which a lot of people said we wouldn’t make it in hockey, kind of late bloomers in that sense.”
Yes, Megna has seen some pretty cool memorabilia, up close. In the home of Jim Craig, he’s seen and touched the gold medal and the flag Craig wore. He’s also gotten to meet many members of the 1980 team. Craig, 63, remains active as a motivational speaker and is the founder of Gold Medal Strategies, based in Boston.
“I think he knows how much it means to people, when they meet him, and he handles it all so well,” Megna said. “He knows the importance of it.”
Jayson and Taylor on their wedding day:
Megna not only has a father-in-law who is a former pro athlete (Jim Craig went on to play for three teams in a brief NHL career) but his own father, Jay, played linebacker in the NFL in the 1980s for New Orleans and Miami. His brother, Jaycob, is a prospect in the Vegas Golden Knights organization, who has NHL experience with Anaheim. (If you’re keeping score, yes, the letter J is the favored first letter of the first name in the Megna household. His mother is Jacqueline and sister is Jessica).
Jayson played some football in high school, and also on the golf team. But hockey, starting at about age 7, became his passion growing up mostly in the suburban Chicago area. He played one year at the University of Nebraska-Omaha in 2011-12 before signing as an undrafted free agent with the Penguins organization the next season. Tonight’s game will be the 123rd of his NHL career, and despite turning 31 earlier this month, Megna says he maintains a rookie’s hope and enthusiasm for a more lasting NHL career.
Because of the pandemic shutdown that, until recently had affected the American Hockey League even worse the NHL, Sunday’s game for Megna in Vegas was his first as a pro player since Feb. 20 of last year, when he played for the Colorado Eagles.
“I just try to take each day as it comes,” said Jayson Megna, who has also played for Penguins, Rangers and Vancouver in his career. “The competitive side of you is like, ‘I want to stay all the time in the league’ and this is an opportunity to do that. I’m just thankful to be here now and to be with such a good organization.”