September 14, 2014

1991 Canada Cup

The Arrival Of A New Rival

The 1991 Canada Cup will not be remembered as being the best. The tournament was very different than all the other Canada Cups. The fall of communism in Eastern Europe saw a weakened Russian and Czechoslovakian squads both miss the playoffs. Also the United States emerged as the newest hockey power, and Finland, perennial basement dwellers, also emerged as a strong contender.

The 1991 Cup was definitely more "NHL" or "North American" in its style of play. Physical bumping and grinding combined with a defensive team approach was the name of the game for the successful teams in this tournament.

In 1987 Canada relied almost strictly on two lines, and more specifically on Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux. This time Canada relied on its depth to outlast the opposition. Canada's great depth was besides the fact that Lemieux, Ray Bourque, Steve Yzerman, Adam Oates, Joe Sakic, Patrick Roy and Cam Neely all missed the tournament for various reasons.

Wayne Gretzky continued to prove he was the best player on the planet, although USA's Gary Suter also made a name for himself by cross checking The Great One into the boards causing Gretzky to miss a game due to back spasms. The check also would cause Gretzky's recurring back problems in the early 1990s.

Canada's two game sweep of the Americans reaffirmed Canada's dominance in international hockey. However the tournament served to highlight  the changing face of the game of hockey. The most exciting change is that parity began to creep into international hockey. No longer was it a battle between Canada and the Soviets for 1st and Sweden and CSSR for 3rd. Now the Americans had arrived as genuine threats, and Finland had its most successful tournament ever.

Another interesting change highlighted in this tournament was the rise to prominence of role players. Never before had the bangers and crashers ever been so important, and it continues to this day. Names like Fleury, Tocchet, Granato and Samuelsson were becoming superstars in their own right, and not because they lit up the scoreboard.

Finally, the 1991 Canada Cup will also be remembered for the unofficial arrival of Eric Lindros. Though just 18 and still in junior hockey, the giant phenom came in and played an important role in the Canadian victory. Lindros scored 3 goals and 5 points in 8 games, but more importantly physically intimidated the opposition as a teenager.
Results and Statistics

Round Robin Tournament
Aug 31 Canada 2 Finland 2 (Toronto)
           USA 6 Sweden 3 (Pittsburgh)
           CSSR 5 USSR 2 (Saskatoon)
Sept 2 Canada 6 USA 3 (Hamilton)
           Sweden 3 USSR 2 (Montreal)
           Finland 1 CSSR 0 (Saskatoon)
Sept 5 Canada 4 Sweden 1 (Toronto)
           USA 4 CSSR 2 (Detroit)
           USSR 6 Finland 1 (Hamilton)
Sept 7 Canada 6 CSSR 2 (Montreal)
           USA 2 USSR 1 (Chicago)
           Finland 3 Sweden 1 (Toronto)
Sept 9 Canada 3 USSR 3 (Quebec City)
           USA 4 Finland 3 (Chicago)
           Sweden 5 CSSR 2 (Toronto)

Semi Finals
Sept 11 USA 7 Finland 3 (Hamilton)
Sept 12 Canada 4 Sweden 0 (Toronto)

Sept 14 Canada 4 USA 1 (Montreal)
Sept 16 Canada 4 USA 2 (Hamilton) 

Scoring Leaders
Goalie Leaders
All Star Teams
G - Bill Ranford, CAN
D - Al MacInnis, CAN
D - Chris Chelios, USSR
F - Wayne Gretzky, CAN
F - Mats Sundin, SWE
F - Jeremy Roenick, USA
Tournament MVP
Wayne Gretzky - Canada

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

MVP was Bill Ranford not Gretzky