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1981 Canada Cup
    The next Canada Cup was to take place in an Olympiad. 1980 was to be the date, but due to the politcal unrest at the time, there wouldn't be a Cup that year. The Americans had boycotted the 1980 Olympics in Moscow due to the Soviets invasion of Afghanistan and the whole western world was forced into the boycott also; except for Britain who actually participated. This was the reason behind the Canada Cup being pushed back a year to Sept. 1981.
     The Soviets prepared well for this Canada Cup and weren't about to allow not having their best team present. They had to prove themselves more than ever before because of the biggest upset in sport history that took place in the early winter of 1980 at the Lake Placid Olympics when they lost to a bunch of unknown American college upstarts.
     Team Canada had a new trick up their sleeves- the behind the net magic of young new superstar Wayne Gretzky; himself a second generation Canadian who's family emigrated from the Soviet Union.
     Canada still looked strong with some old faces from 1976 like Lafleur, Dionne, and Perreault; they had Bossy (who lead the tourney in goals), Trottier, Gillies, and Potvin again from the Stanley Cup Islanders as well as new Bobby Orr- Ray Bourque on defence. A surprise choice on the team was long-haired, sex symbol Ron Duguay who looked out of place on the squad while a better talent like Randy Carlyle was sent home.
     The Soviets had some new faces too that would soon rise to world hockey dominance; these being: Nikolai Drozdetsky, Slava Fetisov, Vladimir Krutov, Vasily Pervukhin and the Russian Wayne Gretzky- Igor Larionov. It was the greatest Soviet team ever assembled. They all dawned their new styled Jofa helmets and looked like an army on skates, which only fueled the western use of the term for their team as "The Big Red Machine." They may have been the cog in a machine of well oiled parts, but they never would manage to match the physical size of the Canadian players pound-for-pound at any time then or from there on.
     In the round robin of the tourney Canada and the Soviets were the best. Canadian authorites always liked to have the final round robin game between the two. This game, played in the Montreal Forum, was Canada, or should I say, Gretzky at his best. He helped dominate the Soviets with his brilliance behind the net, scored a goal, and set up Lafleur in the 7-3 victory. Vladimir Myshkin was in net this time and he didn't know what had hit him. If the Soviets and Canadians won their semi-final games and met in the one game final then the Canadians would be favoured by a long shot.
      Sure enough this came to pass, and what was about to happen next was the ultimate shock to Canada's system yet witnessed- even more so than in the final game of the 1979 Challenge Cup. Tikhonov and the coaching staff had gone through the reels and devised a plan to keep Gretzky's behind the net antics at bay. Soviet defenders like Sergei Babinov and Zinetul Bilyaletdinov would be sure of that.
     Mike Liut was in net for Canada and Tretiak for the Russians. It would be the last hurrah, much like Bobby Orr's in 1976, for Tretiak and Vasiliev. The game was played in honour of Terry Fox and a painting by Ken Danby was offered in the opening ceremonies which hangs in Rideau Hall to this day. After the crowd offered a moments silence in the memory of Terry the game got underway.
     Canada came out storming the Soviet net. Time and time again Tretiak stoned their efforts. Canada dominated the first period. The Soviets evened the play in the second period with the score 3-1 in their favour, going into the third. When all was said and done, the final score ended up 8-1 for the Soviets. Sergei Shepelev had scored a hat-trick, Larionov netted two, and Mike Liut didn't even move when Alexander Skvortsov scored the final goal on a break-away. Tretiak was the star of the game.
     After Canada's inability to score on him, Tretiak said, "I had seen something I had never seen before. The Canadians hung their heads and gave up." This wasn't really true: the truth is that Canada kept on storming forward but just couldn't put the puck in the net; whereas, the Russians just couldn't miss scoring on poor Liut. They scored five straight goals in the third.
     It was said that perhaps Tikhonov didn't show what his team was capable of in the 7-3 meeting. But that made no sense because if they had won that game they would have played the USA instead of the higher ranked Czechs in the semi-finals.
     For an indepth write-up on the final game
click here.
     The Russians tried to smuggle the Cup out of The Forum but were caught by Alan Eagleson who told them it had to stay in Canada. This was very disheartening to the team. Thankfully, a Canadian trucker named George Smith put up the money to get an exact replica of the Cup made for the Russians to keep. Canadians had come a long way from utter ignorance to mutual respect for the Russians. George travelled to Moscow with the $20,000 replica.
     When Tretiak got back to Moscow, a lady kissed him on the cheek and told him how happy she was that the team "Beat those Canadian bastards!" Goodwill isn't always some people's main focus after a blowout.
Top: Gretzky and Lafleur create some magic. Above: Pierre Trudeau hands the Canada Cup over to Soviet Captain Vasiliev. Right: Soviet smiles prevail after the Montreal Massacre.
1984 Canada Cup
    The Canada Cup organizers got the cup sheduled, this time around, back on an Olympiad. Again September would be the magical month for more Canadian glory. Canada had just come off of their "Golden Summer" at the Los Angeles Olympics where they took home their greatest haul of medals ever- a fourth place finish in the medal count. It was due to the Soviet boycott of these games (a backlash to the American boycott in the Moscow Summer Games of 1980) that Canada won so many medals, and it was their highest total medal count ever since the first Games of 1896. Canada was on a roll in the sports world as September approached. Revenge for their most bitter defeat in 1981 was foremost on the minds of the players.
     The Soviets were also still on a high as the World Championships were consistantly being won by them. They now had a new weapon to unleash at the Canada Cup. Victor Tikhonov had founded the perfect linemates that would dominate world hockey for much of the 1980's. This line had Larionov centering Krutov and Makarov and hence the name the KLM line. Their defence partners were Alexei Kasatonov and the best defender in the world at that time Slava Fetisov (who was injured unfortunately). This whole line together comprimised the "
Green Unit" which was labelled by Canadians who saw them always practicing on the ice in green shirts. They were actually first tried together in the previous Canada Cup.
     * (Also of note was the fact that this entire Soviet team, fielded in 1984, had only players who shot left. Strangely enough, only about 10% of all previous Soviet teams had players who shot from the right-side.)
     (It was also around this time that possible steroid use amongst some Soviet players occurred. Tikhonov apparently had ordered this practice; but it's interesting to note that the entire "Green Unit" refused take part in these practices, as Mr. Larionov told us in his autobiography years later. The talent and power of this line was to their own merit, and the fact that they refused to dope speaks volumes on it's own).
     In net was Vladimir Myshkin and his back-up Alexander Tyzhnykh. From here on in it would be a nightmare for the Russian coaching staff to replace Tretiak: the most well-known and decorated player ever to lace up in the CCCP's red and white. Myshkin did, however, beat the Canadians in the 6-0 blowout at the Challenge Cup five years before.
     Canada, coached by Glen Sather of the Stanley Cup winning Edmonton Oilers, was largely made up of Islanders and Sather's Oilers. Gretzky was almost at his prime and the other Oilers were Grant Fuhr, Paul Coffey, Mark Messier, Glenn Anderson, Kevin Lowe, Charlie Huddy, and Randy Gregg. Mike Bossy, Bob Bourne, Brent Sutter and John Tonelli were there from the Isles. There were some surprises with players being cut from the team like Denis Savard. Bryan Trottier would have been on the team again had he not decided to help out the American squad. But the biggest surprise of all was the addition of Peter Stastny, who was the best player to ever come out of Czechoslovakia, and who had only defected a few years earlier. Mario Lemieux was considered, but being only 18 years of age Sather passed on him.
     The first round of the round robin was dominated by the Soviets who went undefeated. Canada wasn't fairing too well at this stage. The two would meet in Edmonton, of all places. The Russians proved too much for Gretzky and company and handed them another loss 6-3. The game will be remembered for two things- Messier's elbow attack on Vladimir Kovin that left a pool of blood, and the fact that they did not avenge the 1981 Montreal Massacre.
     It was always hoped that in a tournament as big as the Canada Cup that the two powerhouses would meet up in the finals. But in the 1984 round robin, the Canadians didn't finish 1st or 2nd; they finished 4th; which meant they would be playing the Russians again in the semi-finals instead.
     The game would be played at the Calgary Sattledome and ended in the toughest one game battle ever between the two. Tenacious Tonelli opened the scoring for Canada, and the Russians got one back. Then the greatest one-on-one man in history, Sergei Makarov, scored what should be considered the greatest goal ever seen in any Canada-USSR match-up. His manouever through the Canadian defence and the final deke on Pete Peeters was out of this world. Not long after, the game was tied 2-2 when Doug Wilson evened it up thru a Gretzky behind-the-net set-up. After many more great opportunities at both ends the teams remained deadlocked, and It looked like the Soviets would have to play the first ever overtime in their team's history.
     Time for overtime: At 12 minutes of OT, Vladimir Kovin and Mikhail Varnakov broke out on a 2-on-1 with Paul Coffey the lone man back. Coffey held his ground and bent down with his stick to break up the pass in front of Peeters. He streamed the other way down the wing with a head of steam, made a pass, and after some action in front of Myshkin he received the puck right back from John Tonelli. Then he let a shot go from the point which was tipped into the net by none other than Mike Bossy- Canada's purest goal-scoring talent ever. This would be Bossy's most famous goal- even bigger than his 50th goal in 50 games. The goal had Tonelli on his knees in exctasy as Team Canada left the bench. Their pride had been restored.
      After the game, Wayne Gretzky said, "They beat us in '81 and we spent three years hearing they were the best in the world..Now we win 3-2 against them. Does this mean we're the best in the world. No, it means we were the best this one night. We're a great hockey country, they're a great hockey country. It's about time everybody realizes that."
      Another comment was made with the thrill of victory by hockey writer Jay Greenberg who said, "You can take me now, lord. I have just seen the best hockey game ever played."
      The Swedes meanwhile were about to show the best performance of the tourney against the USA in the other semi-final. The Swedes were showing a flash they had never shown before and humiliated the Americans by a score of 9-2. This event had the tables turned from their earlier meeting in the round robin in which the US toppled Sweden 7-1.
       Canada was in for another new final showdown. Canada always made it to the finals and for the third straight Canada Cup they would be playing a different opposing team.
      The finals this time went back to the original format of a best of 3 series as it was in 1976. The one game of the 1981 Canada Cup final was obvioulsy not to the liking of the Canadian fans. Anyways, Canada beat the Swedes in two straight games by scores of  5-2 and 6-5. Gretzky was the scoring leader this year: as was always the case.
Let's go to Canada Cup 1987. Click on the puck.
                                                                TEAM ROSTERS

Team Canada 1981- Guy Lafleur, Gil Perreault, Wayne Gretzky, Ray Bourque, Marcel Dionne, Larry Robinson, Mike Bossy, Bryan Trottier, Clarke Gillies, Darryl Sittler, Ken Linseman, Rick Middleton, Denis Potvin, Craig Hartsburg, Ron Duguay, Butch Goring, Bob Gainey, Danny Gare, Paul Reinhardt, Barry Beck, Brian Engblom, Steve Payne, Bobby Smith, Bob Bourne, Mike Gartner, Randy Carlyle, Don Edwards, Billy Smith, Mike Liut

Soviet Union 1981- Alexei Kasatonov, Viacheslav Fetisov, Vasily Pervukhin, Zinetul Bilyaletdinov, Valery Vasiliev, Sergei Babinov, Vladimir Zubkov, Irek Gimayev, Sergei Makarov, Vladimir Krutov, Igor Larionov, Alexander Maltsev, Andrey Khomotov, Nicolai Drozdetsky, Viktor Zhluktov, Sergei Shepelev, Viktor Shalimov, Vladimir Golikov, Alexander Skvortsov, Sergei Kapustin, Vladislav Tretiak, Vladimir Myshkin

Team Canada 1984- Glenn Anderson, Sylvain Turgeon, Wayne Gretzky, Charlie Huddy, Kevin Lowe, Mark Messier, Paul Coffey, Al Secord, Steve Yzerman, Denis Savard, Kevin Stevens, Rick Vaive, Doug Wilson, John Tonelli, Mike Bossy, Randy Gregg, Mike Gartner, Barry Pederson, Brian Bellows, Larry Robinson, Peter Stastny, Mario Marois, Bob Bourne, Michel Goulet, James Patrick, Rick Middleton, Grant Fuhr, Pete Peeters, Reggie Lemelin

Soviet Union 1984- Igor Larionov, Sergei Makarov, Vladimir Krutov, Alexei Kasatonov, Viacheslav Fetisov, Vasili Pervukhin, Zinetul Bilyaletdinov, Sergei Starikov, Igor Stelnov, Vladimir Zubkov, Alexei Gusarov, Sergei Svetlov, Anatoli Semenov, Sergei Yashin, Mikhail Varnakov, Alexander Skvortsov, Vladimir Kovin, Irek Gimayev, Alexander Kozhevnikov, Sergei Shepelev, Mikhail Vasiliev, Vladimir Myshkin, Alexander Tyzhnykh
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