July 31, 2016

Things You Did Not Know About The Canada Cup

Wayne Gretzky Peed Pants in 1987

Game 2 of the 1987 Canada Cup finals is considered by many to be one of the greatest games ever played. Wayne Gretzky, arguably the game's greatest player, considers that game to be the greatest game he personally has ever played.

That game is also memorable to Gretzky for another reason - one of his most embarrassing. He peed his pants right there on the Team Canada bench!

The incident happened during the first overtime. Gretzky, being double and triple shifted, had played a ton of hockey in this game already, and was exhausted halfway through the first overtime. He compared his physical state to that of a marathon runner in his 26th mile. He was on the bench and had no control over his own muscles.

Just as Gretzky realized what was going on, one of the coaches told him to get ready, he was to be going into action at the next chance. Somehow he formed enough energy to go back out and play another shift.
By the way, no one knew Gretzky did this. But as he revealed in his autobiography, he told everyone after the game. His teammates, celebrating a great victory, laughed heartily for nearly 30 minutes.

Two Team Canadas in 1991?

Just days prior to the start of the 1991 Canada Cup, a political coup in the Soviet Union was making headlines world wide. Mikhail Gorbachev was dismissed as the leader of the powerful Soviet Union by hard line communists on August 19. The fallout of such an act of course was far reaching, including the Canada Cup. The coup left Canada Cup organizers scrambling for a contingency plan in case the political upheaval led to the withdrawal of Team USSR.  Alan Eagleson, the tournament's director, suggested the following. "In the event of a Soviet withdrawal, I propose that Canada enter two teams in the tournament." No contingency plan was ever approved by the International Ice Hockey Federation and fortunately Team USSR was not used as a political pawn of the communists

Swedish Female Coach for Team Canada?

Fred Shero, then the coach of the NHL's Philadelphia Flyers, said that if he were named head coach of Team Canada 1976, he would have named a Swedish woman as one of his assistant coaches. His insistence on this topic was one of the main reasons why Team Canada opted for Scotty Bowman as coach.

Though he would not name the woman, he said that she was the head coach of a Swedish team and plays on a men's team in Sweden. She also spent a year in Canada studying Canadian hockey. Shero added that he had seen the woman play and he felt she was good enough to play in the minor leagues!

Team Canada Snubs Prime Minister Trudeau

Following the Canada Cup, the organizers of the tournament had planned a luncheon for Team Canada with Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau. However it was a poorly planned event. The players weren't notified of the event until after the final game. At that point all the players had received their plane tickets to send them to their various NHL homes across North America. Most players had to catch flights rather than eat with the Prime Minister. In fact only three players showed up for the meal - Larry Robinson, Butch Goring and Wayne Gretzky.

"I don't think I've ever been to a more embarrassing event in my life" remembers Wayne. "Here's the Prime Minister sitting at a table set for thirty guys and three of us show up!"

"Naturally, we're all a bit disappointed at the result of the game," said Trudeau. "but all of us here are in a game of some kind, including myself, where you win some and you lose some."

Team Quebec in 1981?

Quebecer Guy Bertrand, a local lawyer who acted as a player agent for several Quebec Nordiques including Real Cloutier and Pierre Lacroix, called for a Team Quebec to be allowed to play in the Canada Cup. Bertrand, an obvious supporter of separatism, wanted to see a collection of French Canadians not only take on the Soviets and Americans, but the rest of Canada. 

The idea didn't get much support, yet Bertrand would continue to make noise in the tournament. Even though Canada had Quebec born stars such as Guy Lafleur, Gilbert Perreault, Marcel Dionne, and Ray Bourque, Bertrand called for a boycott a boycott because of Team Canada's ignoring of all Quebec Nordiques player for training camp invitations.

Bertrand's movement was successful, though definitely aided by high ticket prices that were creating similar attendance problems in most rinks in the nation. Quebec City was to host a couple of games, (Czechs vs Sweden in the round robin, plus a semi-final game between the Czechs and Soviets) but ticket sales were so poor that tournament organizers were forced to look for an alternative.

The alternative proved to the nation's capital, Ottawa. The people of Ottawa, starved for hockey with no professional team located there, responded well despite having a small rink.

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