Canada won the first edition in 1976 against Czechoslovakia, followed by the Soviet defeating Canada in 1981. Canada then defeated Sweden in 1984. The Canadians got their revenge on the Soviets in their thrilling 1987 rematch.
Four years later the final Canada Cup tournament began on August 31st with a field that included the host Canadians, Czechoslovakia, Finland, the Soviet Union, Sweden and the United States.
The tournament opened with a shocker, as Finland tied the Canadians 2-2. The United States announced their intentions to be a factor with a 6-3 win over the Swedes followed by another apparent surprise, the Czechs having an easy time of it with a 5-2 win over the Soviets.
The Soviets though, were in a period of turmoil at home politically, the fall of the Soviet Union was less than a year away and the sporting authorities feared further defections of some of their star players. Additionally, some players simply declined to play for the team, such as Alexander Mogilny, who was now in the NHL and didn not want to play for his former head coach Viktor Tikhonov. Missing from the 1987 roster were Slava Fetisov, Vladimir Krutov, Igor Larionov, Valeri Kamensky, Sergei Makarov and left at home to prevent them from defecting were Pavel Bure and Vladimir Konstantinov.
The United States got a reality check when Canada won handily 6-3 on September 2nd. Sweden kicked the Soviets while they were down 3-2 and Finland prevailed in a tight 1-0 win over the Czechs.
Three days later on the 5th, Canada survived as the lone unbeaten team with a 4-1 defeat of Sweden while the Soviets pummeled the Finns 6-1. The USA righted their ship with a 4-2 win over the Czechs.
Day four of the competition on September 7th saw the Canadians continue to roll with a 6-2 win over the Czechs followed by something that had never happened before, as the United States defeated the Soviets 2-1, their first win over the Soviet Union in five Canada Cup tournaments. Finland prevailed 3-1 over Nordic rivals Sweden in the day's third game.
The final day of the round robin portion saw Canada finish without a loss and eliminate the Soviets with a 3-3 tie. The United States defeated Finland 4-4 to tie Canada with 8 points from a 4-1 record. Sweden beat the Czechs 5-2 to place in the top four and qualify for the playoffs and send the Czechs packing.
The Semifinals on September 11th saw the United States qualify for it's first final with a resounding 7-3 hammering of Finland, while the Canadians did the same, easily dispatching Sweden 4-0 to set up the first all North American final, which was a best-of-three format.
Game 1 in Montreal, Quebec was played on September 14th and saw the hosts get out to a 1-0 lead after one period on a goal by Eric Desjardins at 4:22. Steve Larmer then put Canada up 2-0 at 5:20. This was followed by a hit by Gary Suter on Canadian captain Wayne Gretzky, who he checked from behind into the end boards, knocking the Canadian captain out of the tournament. Even more infuriating to the Canadian fans, Suter responded with a goal for the US at 10:31 to keep the United States in the game heading into the third down by just one.
Suter's goal turned out to be the only one the Americans would get past Canadian goalie Bill Ranford. The Canadians would get two more goals by Mike Richter from Mark Messier and Brent Sutter to cement the victory for Canada.
Game 2 was played in Hamilton, Ontario and was a must-win for the United States. Both teams had good chances early, but new Canadian captain Messier opened the scoring at 13:39. Just 20 seconds later, Steve Larmer set the US back on their heels with a second Canada goal in a relative blink of the eye.
Down, but not out, the Americans rallied with goals by Jeremy Roenick at 3:45 on the power play, and after keeping Canada off the board, tied the game at 11:02 when Kevin Miller beat Ranford to make it 2-2.
With the game tied over halfway through the third period, Larmer broke in on Richter shorthanded and scored to put the Canadians back up by one at 3-2, giving them a lead they would never relinquish.
The US was unable to solve Ranford and the Canadian defense and a Dirk Graham empty net goal at 19:18 provided the final 4-2 margin, giving Canada their fourth Canada Cup in five tries and making them the only team to go through an entire Canada Cup undefeated at 6-0-2.
Despite missing the final game, Gretzky led all scorers with 4 goals and 12 points in 7 games, followed by hero Larmer, who had 6 goals and 5 assists for 11 points. Brett Hull and Mike Modano led the United States in scoring, each with 2 goals and 9 points to tie for third in tournament scoring.
Today's featured jersey is a 1991 Team Canada Wayne Gretzky jersey. Canada would wear this style jersey for all five of the Canada Cup tournaments with it's half-maple leaf crest done in the same style as the tournament trophy. Both the home white and road red jerseys would feature a heavily screen printed crest and sleeve logos rather than a sewn on twill crest.
In today's video section, the final few minutes of the final game plus the trophy presentation and post game celebrations of the final Canada Cup game ever.