Skip to main content

1987-88: Canada Cup Magic

The Three Stars: Lemieux! - Three exciting 6-5 games decide the 1987 Canada Cup final between Canada and the Soviets, with the teams splitting two overtime verdicts. It may have been the best hockey ever played. The score is tied 5-5 late in game 3 when Canada's Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Larry Murphy get a 3-on-1 break. Gretzky feeds a perfect pass and Super Mario fires the puck past goalie Sergei Mylnikov at 18:34, sending fans at Hamilton's Copps Coliseum into hysteria. It's a coming of age moment for Lemieux, who scores the deciding goal in both Canadian wins. In fact it is in many ways a passing of the torch moment from Gretzky to Lemieux.

Donuts - Donuts have a rich history in hockey, what with the success of Tim Hortons etc. But donuts leave a negative connotation on the game following a 6-1 New Jersey Devils loss to Boston in game 3 of the Wales Conference final. An angry Devils' coach Jim Schoenfeld confronts Don Koharski after the game, calling him a "fat pig" and suggesting he "have another donut!" Schoenfeld is suspended by the NHL, but gets a court injunction and is back for game 4. NHL officials refuse to work the game and amateurs are used in their place. Wearing yellow practice jerseys, it is one of the most embarrassing moments in NHL history. And to make matters worse, NHL president John Ziegler can't be found.

Coffey Traded To Pittsburgh - Edmonton Oilers GM Glen Sather makes the first move in the eventual collapse of the Oilers Stanley Cup dynasty. Demanding to re-negotiate his contract, two time Norris Trophy winning defenseman Paul Coffey, who had been sitting out, is traded in late November to Pittsburgh in a 7 player trade that included Craig Simpson going back to Edmonton.

Season Highlights -
  • Not that the Coffey trade hurt the Oilers immediately. They rolled through the playoffs and won their fourth Stanley Cup title in five years. Oddest moment came in game four when a power outage forced the game, which was tied 3-3 late in the 2nd period, to be replayed in its entirety.
  • By his standards it was not a great year for Wayne Gretzky. A knee injury sidelined him for 16 games, costing him both the Art Ross and Hart trophies, both of which he virtually owned since entering the league. Gretzky finished with "only" 40 goals (the first time he failed to reach 50 in his career) and 149 points. He was extra strong in the playoffs, however, scoring 43 points and winning the Conn Smythe trophy for the second time. Gretzky also surpassed Gordie Howe's all time record for assists with 1049. Howe set that over 26 season. Gretzky took 9 seasons.
  • Mario Lemieux stayed healthy all year (he missed 4 games) and scored an amazing 70 goals, 98 assists and 168 points, taking him the Art Ross and Hart for the first time.
  • Craig Simpson started the year playing with Mario, but ended the year with Gretzky. How's that for linemates. Actually in Edmonton he played mostly with Mark Messier and Glenn Anderson, and it was instant chemistry. Simpson score 43 goals in 59 games with the Oilers, and finished the year with a combined 56 goals.
  • LA Kings super-sophomore Jimmy Carson finished third in goals with 55. Calgary Flames rookie Joe Nieuwendyk wowed with 51, while teammate Hakan Loob also hit 50.
  • Ron Hextall, who started the year with an 8 game suspension for slashing Kent Nilsson in the previous Stanley Cup final, becomes the first goalie to score a goal by actually shooting it into the opposition net. 
  • The NHL honoured King Clancy by establishing an award in his honour for "the player who best exemplifies leadership on and off the ice and for making noteworthy humanitarian contributions in his community." Lanny McDonald of Calgary was the inaugural winner. 
  • Ray Bourque famously switches jerseys from 7 to 77 in order to retire 7 for Phil Esposito.


Popular posts from this blog

100 Greatest Hockey Players Of All Time

What follows is a listing of the 100 greatest hockey players of all time, in my opinion. As discussed earlier, the definition of greatness is a very personalized endeavor and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it.
While there is no way of ever truly ranking the top 100 definitively, it is important for the creators of such lists to be open and transparent of how the came to their conclusions. That accountability allows the reader to better understand the process. 

Although admittedly I'm using a completely unscientific formula, I weigh career achievements (era statistics, awards, championships) and legacy (impact on and off ice, peak dominance) equally high. I rank player ability as the third most important ingredient, as first and foremost as a tie breaker. Hence, I'm not necessarily looking for the better player, as in text book definitions of what a hockey player should be, but for players with the greatest careers and greatest legacies. Therefore the best player is not n…

Top Ten Junior Players Of All Time

Let's take a look at the Top Ten junior players of all time. For the purposes of this list we will at players in the WHL, OHL and QMJHL only.

10. Pat Lafontaine, Verdun, QMJHL Rookie-record 104 goals, 234 points in 1982-83; major junior player of the year.

9. Denis Potvin, Ottawa, OHL 254 games, 95 goals, 234 assists, 329 points. Broke Bobby Orr's junior records.

8. John Tavares, Oshawa, OHL 215 goals, 433 points in 247 games; most goals in OHL history; eligibility rules changed to admit him at 15; 2006 major junior rookie of the year, 2007 major junior player of the year; two world juniors, named 2009 all-star, top forward and MVP.

7. Sidney Crosby, Rimouski, QMJHL 120 goals, 303 points in 121 games; two-time major junior player of the year; silver and gold with Canada at two world juniors.

6. Eric Lindros, Oshawa, OHL 97 goals, 216 points in 95 games; one Memorial Cup victory; three world junior tournaments; major junior player of the year in 1991.

5. Mike Bossy, Laval, Q…

Greatest Hockey Legends: M