Canadians have extended hands across the border again -- and made sure the goaltending hero of the U.S. Olympic hockey team, Jim Craig, remains on a United States team in the NHL.

Better yet for Bostonian Craig, this time it's the culmination of his childhood fantasy: Jim Craig of the Bruins.

Craig played four games with the Atlanta Flames following the Olympic triumph, yielding 13 goals. "Ridiculous. I've been better prepared," he says. "I know playing for a hometown crowd is going to make me more excited about playing."

Craig's dad, of Lake Placid and TV commercial fame, attended the Bruin news conference introducing Jim as Boston's No. 3 goalie -- but with Gerry Cheevers considering retirement to coaching and Giles Gilbert possibly needing surgery for his bad back, he could move up all of a sudden.

Atlanta all of a sudden became Calgary with sale of the franchise the other day, and now the trade of Craig for a couple of draft choices has sprouted as an offshoot of the new deal in Alberta . . .

Another NBA coaching chance already for Jack McKinney, 9-4 at Los Angeles before that severe bicycle accident took him out of the Laker picture: the Indiana Pacers hired him last night to direct their team. Owner Sam Nassi settled up with Bobby Leonard, who had been operating as both coach (11 1/2 years) and general manager (four years), and told the onetime Baltimore Bullet coach he was free to look for work elsewhere. . . . The Seattle SuperSonics are talking to Tom Owens, the Portland Trail Blazer center become a free agent, about coming aboard as replacement for Tommy LaGarde, lost to Dallas in the expansion draft. Schulman doesn't mind paying Owens $300,000 a year, but compensation to the Blazers is so far a sticking point and Schulman doesn't want to chance a heavy award by the commissioner. . . .

That would be Larry O'Brien, who (we pilfer from Sam Goldaper's New York Times tale) lately attended a reception for NBA general managers and coaches at Greyhall Mansion, former home of movie star Douglas Fairbanks Jr. The Bullets' g.m., Bob Ferry, spotted an expensive statue in one of the rooms and quipped, "I would like to make that my first draft choice," To which O'Brien one-upped, "Go right ahead. It may be better than some of the picks you've made recently" . . .

The bill introduced by Rep. Ed Beard (D-R.I.), to create a federal boxing board and clean up the sport, grinds through the mill. Originally slated for a hearing Thursday, it now is to go before a House subcommittee on labor standards session June 12. A favorable vote after subcommittee discussion would send it to the full Education and Labor Committee.

Doyle Royal is retiring from the University of Maryland, bringing further flux to the varsity coaching scene: The Terps must find a replacement for the only tennis coach they've ever had.Royal came to UM from Roosevelt (D.C.) High as an undergraduate in 1939 as a member of the Junior Davis Cup team; after valorous World War II service, he was instrumental in having both tennis and soccer elevated to varsity status in 1946; coached both sports (soccer until 1973, tennis through a 15-9 season in 1980). Royal's teams posted a 358-1354 mark in tennis, 216-58-5 in soccer, and they'll have a heck of a time finding another 574-win man. But Lt. Col. Royal (U.S. Army Reserve, ret. '68) will stick around until Jan. 1 to help Col. Jim Kehoe, the athletic director, shape the program for a successor -- and as Kehoe says, "upgrade the tennis facilities at the university" . . . That's two longtime tennis coaches the ACC will be missing. In April, Don Skakle, whose North Carolina Tar Heel teams won 18 conference titles in 21 years and who helped develop players the likes of Freddy McNair, passed away -- on the even of his would-be 22nd ACC tournament (won by Clemson) . . .

A death of note in Baltimore is covered on Page C4 of today's Post, but we'll not let Hall of Fame pitcher Rube Marquard go without sports section mention . . .

Ah, another old Washington Senator at liberty: Don Blasingame. The old second-base Blazer has quit as manager of the Hanshin Tigers in Japan, where he has been involved with baseball since 1967 . . .