Canada Cup

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Canada Cup
Canada Cup in the Hockey Hall of Fame
SportIce hockey
Founded1976 (1976)
First season1976
Ceased1991 (1991)
Replaced byWorld Cup of Hockey
No. of teams6
Canada (4 titles)

The Canada Cup (French: Coupe Canada) was an invitational international ice hockey tournament held on five occasions between 1976 and 1991. The brainchild of Toronto lawyer Alan Eagleson, the tournament was created to meet demand for a true world championship that allowed the best players from participating nations to compete regardless of their status as professional or amateur. It was sanctioned by the International Ice Hockey Federation, Hockey Canada and the National Hockey League. Canada won the tournament four times, while the Soviet Union captured the championship once. It was succeeded by the World Cup of Hockey in 1996.


Due to National Hockey League (NHL) players' ineligibility in the Winter Olympics and the annual World Championships, both amateur competitions, Canada was not able to send its best players to top international tournaments.[1] While the top players in Europe qualified as amateurs, all the best Canadian players competed in the professional NHL or World Hockey Association.

Following the 1972 and 1974 Summit Series, in which Canadian players from the NHL and WHA competed against the top players from the Soviet Union, there was interest in a world hockey championship where each country could send its best players.[1] In a combined effort from Doug Fisher of Hockey Canada and Alan Eagleson of the NHL Players' Association,[1] plans for such a tournament soon began.

After successful negotiations with hockey officials from the Soviet Union in September 1974, Eagleson began arranging the Canada Cup tournament, which debuted in 1976.[citation needed] Eagleson would later plead guilty to embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars of Canada Cup proceeds.

Taking place in the NHL off-season, it was the first international hockey tournament in which the best players, professional and amateur alike, from the best ice hockey nations in the world could compete against one another.[2] Six teams competed in each edition. In addition to Canada and the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, Finland, Sweden and the United States were regular competitors (with the exception of West Germany replacing Finland in 1984). The tournaments, held every three to five years, took place in North American venues. Of the five Canada Cup tournaments, four were won by Canada, while the Soviet Union won once, in 1981.

Canada won the inaugural Canada Cup in 1976, defeating recent 1976 World Championship gold medalists Czechoslovakia in the best-of-three final. The clinching game was won by a 5–4 score with Darryl Sittler scoring the game-winner in overtime.[2] Five years later, the Soviets won their first and only Canada Cup with an 8–1 win over Canada in the one-game final. The Canadians then re-captured the championship in the third edition of the tournament in 1984. After Canadian Mike Bossy scored an overtime game-winner to defeat the Soviets in the semi-finals, Canada won their second Canada Cup in a victory over Sweden in the final.[1]

The 1987 Canada Cup was particularly noteworthy as Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux, widely considered two of the greatest hockey players of all-time, joined as linemates on Team Canada to capture the country's third championship. All three games in the final between Canada and the Soviets ended in 6–5 scores, with two games going to overtime. Lemieux dramatically scored the championship-winning goal on a 2-on-1 pass from Gretzky in the final minutes of the deciding game at Copps Coliseum in Hamilton, Ontario.[3]

The final Canada Cup was held in 1991 with Canada defeating the United States in the tournament's first all-North American final, for their third straight championship and fourth overall. Five years later, the Canada Cup was replaced by the World Cup of Hockey in 1996.


The Canada Cup trophy is shaped like half of a maple leaf and is made of solid nickel (120 pounds (54 kg) worth). It was refined by Inco Ltd in Sudbury Ontario, commissioned by D. Scott McCann (at the time President of Teledyne Canada). Donna Scott (Queen's University, Bachelor of Fine Arts, 1985) designed the cup, citing as her inspiration Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon album cover.[4]

It is on display at Rideau Hall, the residence of the Governor General in Ottawa.[citation needed]


The 1981 win by the Soviet Union caused controversy when Canadian officials found the trophy in the Soviets' luggage and announced that the trophy would not actually go home with the winning team. Feeling this was unsportsmanlike, Canadian fans led by George Smith of Winnipeg, Manitoba raised money to produce a duplicate trophy to give to the Soviet team.[5] $32,000 was raised.[5] Three weeks later the trophy was presented to the Soviet Union's ambassador Vladimir Mechulayev in Winnipeg.[5] Most of the companies that made the trophy did the work for free and almost all of the money raised went to minor hockey in Winnipeg and Winkler, Manitoba.[5]


Year Champion Runner-up Semi-finalists MVP
1976  Canada  Czechoslovakia N/A (round-robin system) Bobby Orr
1981  Soviet Union  Canada  Czechoslovakia and  United States Vladislav Tretiak
1984  Canada  Sweden  Soviet Union and  United States John Tonelli
1987  Canada  Soviet Union  Sweden and  Czechoslovakia Wayne Gretzky
1991  Canada  United States  Finland and  Sweden Bill Ranford

All-time results table[edit]

Nation Number of appearances Games Wins Losses Ties GF GA Best result
 Canada 5 39 28 5 6 181 105 Winners: 1976, 1984, 1987, 1991
 Soviet Union 5 32 18 10 4 135 85 Winners: 1981
 United States 5 30 13 14 3 97 106 Runners-up: 1991
 Sweden 5 30 12 17 1 92 106 Runners-up: 1984
 Czechoslovakia 5 29 8 16 5 81 96 Runners-up: 1976
 Finland 4 21 3 16 2 44 116 Semi-final: 1991
 West Germany 1 5 0 4 1 13 29 Sixth place: 1984

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Canada Cup (World Cup of Hockey)". Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2009-09-20.
  2. ^ a b Szemberg, Szymon; Podnieks, Andrew (2008). "Story #6–First Canada Cup opens up the hockey world". International Ice Hockey Federation. Retrieved 2009-03-10.
  3. ^ "Tigertown Triumphs" (Press release). The Hamilton Spectator-Memory Project (Souvenir Edition) page MP56. 2006-06-10.
  4. ^ McKinley, Michael (2006). Hockey: A People's History. McClelland & Stewart Ltd. pp. 246. ISBN 0-7710-5769-5.
  5. ^ a b c d Canada Cup Controversy - CBC News: The National[dead link]

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]