Legends of Hockey - Team Canada - 1984 Canada Cup
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One on One Turning Point

Team Canada - 1984 Canada Cup
Rivals during the NHL season, the stars of the Edmonton Oilers and New York Islanders temporarily buried the hatched during the 1984 Canada Cup tournament.
Rivals during the NHL season, the stars of the Edmonton Oilers and New York Islanders temporarily buried the hatched during the 1984 Canada Cup tournament. (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Hockey Hall of Fame)
There was great dissention on the Canadian squad, centring around an intense dislike between players who came from the Edmonton Oilers and those from the New York Islanders. The two teams had faced each other in the previous two Stanley Cup finals. The Islanders had defeated Edmonton in 1983 to earn their fourth consecutive Stanley Cup championship, but when they met in 1984, the Oilers ended the Islanders' streak and started their own dynasty.

Glen Sather, the Oilers' coach and general manager, was given the same responsibility for Team Canada in 1984. "The fur flew when he announced the roster of players invited to training camp," shrugged Larry Robinson. "There were eight Oilers, and that upset a lot of people, particularly members of the New York Islanders." Sather named Glenn Anderson, Paul Coffey, Grant Fuhr, Randy Gregg, Wayne Gretzky, Charlie Huddy, Kevin Lowe and Mark Messier from Edmonton to the team. The Islanders were represented by Mike Bossy, Bob Bourne, Brent Sutter and John Tonelli. Notably absent from the Canadian line-up was Islanders' star Bryan Trottier, who had declined Sather's invitation to instead play for Team USA.

There was great dissention on the Canadian squad heading into the 1984 Canada Cup between members of the Edmonton Oilers and New York Islanders.
There was great dissention on the Canadian squad heading into the 1984 Canada Cup between members of the Edmonton Oilers and New York Islanders. (Photo by James Lipa/Hockey Hall of Fame)
"I was mentally and physically drained from losing to the Oilers in the (1984 Stanley Cup) finals and from playing into May for five consecutive years," admitted Mike Bossy in his autobiography. "I felt obligated to accept Team Canada's invitation. Players who declined invitations were labelled selfish and ungrateful because the tournament was officially a Players' Association event. I didn't want to subject myself to that nationwide criticism. But let's just say I didn't enjoy that Canada Cup."

Wayne Gretzky and Larry Robinson were named co-captains of the team.

Animosity within the roster was running high through the first three games of the tournament. Canada had a record of one win, one loss and one tie, and saw their hopes of winning the Canada Cup eroding.

"The night before the (fourth) game, a number of us gathered at Yosemite Sam's, a popular bar in Calgary, and started talking out our differences," explained Robinson. "The Oilers and the Islanders agreed to disagree during the NHL regular season. At the Canada Cup, they were neither Oilers nor Islanders. Team Canada finally showed up for the tournament."

With a cohesive unit, Team Canada went on to squeak into the finals, finishing fourth in the round-robin, but went on to stun the Soviets in overtime in the semi-final to capture a berth in the best-of-three championship against Sweden, which Canada won with two straight victories to take the 1984 Canada Cup championship.

Kevin Shea is the Editor of Publications and Online Features for the Hockey Hall of Fame.