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

25 JUNE 2013
Canada's Wayne Gretzky and the Soviet Union's Vladimir Krutov in action at the 1984 Canada Cup.
(Photo by James Lipa/Hockey Hall of Fame)
The 1984 Canada Cup tournament was a six-team event that took place in September of that year. Participants were Canada, Czechoslovakia, the Soviet Union, Sweden, the United States and West Germany.

Canada, facing a terrible rift within its roster due to animosity between rival players from the Edmonton Oilers and New York Islanders, stumbled out of the gate. Although they walloped a weak team from West Germany by a lopsided 7-2 count, they tied the United States 4-4 and then were doubled 4-2 by Sweden.

Edmonton Oilers coach and general manager Glenn Sather was given the same responsibility for Team Canada in 1984. (Photo by James Lipa/Hockey Hall of Fame)
"We were playing dull, listless, disjointed hockey," stated Larry Robinson, co-captain of Team Canada with Wayne Gretzky. "There was almost a total lack of communication on the ice."

Team Canada's record was a very disappointing one win, one loss and a tie. The standoff between the eight Oilers on the roster and the four Islanders was affecting the team. These two teams had faced each other in the previous two Stanley Cup finals.

Canada's Mike Bossy in action against Sweden during the 1984 Canada Cup. (Photo by James Lipa/Hockey Hall of Fame)
Coach and general manager Glen Sather had originally pondered asking Wayne Gretzky of the Edmonton Oilers and Mike Bossy of the New York Islanders to be co-captains, but instead chose Gretzky and Montreal Canadiens' star defenceman Larry Robinson. Robinson, a mediator on and off the ice, approached Gretzky after Game Three. "Look, this can't go on. You guys are going to have to bury the hatchet." He then took Mike Bossy aside and said the same thing to him.

The two leaders agreed to put their differences aside during the tournament, and a new team skated out onto the ice for Game Four. Canada hammered the Czechs 7-2, but then were dumped 6-3 by the Soviets.

Canada's Wayne Gretzky and Larry Robinson were named co-captains of the team. (Photo by James Lipa/Hockey Hall of Fame)
Canada finished the round-robin with an unimpressive record of two wins, two losses and a tie, good for fourth place. That gave the Canadians a berth in the semi-final facing the Soviets, who boasted an unblemished 5-0 record.

John Tonelli opened the scoring for Canada, but in the third period, with Larry Robinson off serving a penalty, the Soviets' Sergei Svetlov scored to tie the game. "Anxious to make amends, I made a big mistake on the next shift," explained Robinson. "Sergei Makarov came down on me at the blueline and made a beautiful fake to the outside, which I fell for hook, line and sinker. As I floundered, he cut back inside and went in alone on (Pete) Peeters, beating him with a magnificent deke and a backhand into the net."

2-1 Soviets in the third.

With 6:01 left in regulation time, Doug Wilson scored from the slot to tie the game.

After sixty minutes, Canada was tied with the Soviets, putting the game into overtime.

Canada's John Tonelli in action against the Soviet Union was named the 1984 Canada Cup most valuable player. (Photo by James Lipa/Hockey Hall of Fame)
It appeared that the Soviets were going to finish the game when Vladimir Kovin and Mikhail Varnalov broke across the Canadian blueline with only Paul Coffey back defending. But as Kovin went to send a pass to Varnalov, Coffey dropped to his knees and brilliantly broke up the two-on-one and turned the puck in the opposite direction. In the Soviet end, John Tonelli beat a defender to the puck and passed the puck back to Coffey at the point. Paul skated in to the top of the faceoff circle and fired a wristshot that was deflected by Mike Bossy and found the back of the net behind Vladimir Myshkin.

Team Canada jersey worn by Paul Coffey during
the 1984 Canada Cup.
"I didn't deliberately re-direct the puck," smiled Bossy. "I saw Coffey's shot coming so I placed my stick stomach-high. I just got my stick in the way where I thought the shot would be." He added, "It's one of the greatest and most exciting games I've ever played in, and not because I scored the winning goal in overtime."

The victory propelled Canada into the final against Sweden. Who had defeated Team USA 9-2 in the other semi-final contest.

The best-of-three final against Sweden was disappointing after the excitement of Canada's semi-final win. Canada won the first game 5-2. In Game Two, Canada built up what seemed like an unbeatable 5-0 lead in the first period but Sweden mounted a comeback that came close to toppling the Canadians. The final score was 6-5, giving Team Canada the Canada Cup in 1984.

Wayne Gretzky led all Canada Cup scorers with 5 goals and 12 points. Coffey, Michel Goulet and Sweden's Kent Nilsson finished with 11 points. But it was scrappy John Tonelli, an Islander during the regular season, who was named most valuable player. Tonelli was also named to the tournament all-star team, joined at forward by Gretzky and Sergei Makarov of the Soviets. Coffey and Rod Langway of the USA were honoured for their play from the blueline while the Soviet netminder, Vladimir Myshkin, was named for that position.

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