The Canada Cup was an invitational international ice hockey tournament held on five occasions between 1976 and 1991. 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 field their best players in top international tournaments. 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 World Hockey Association (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. In a combined effort from Doug Fisher of Hockey Canada and Alan Eagleson of the NHL Players' Association, 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. 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 from all nations, professional and amateur alike, could compete against one another. 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 or four 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 final. The championship game was won by a 5–4 score with Darryl Sittler scoring the game-winner in overtime. Five years later, the Soviets won their first and only Canada Cup with an 8-1 win over Canada in the 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.
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 together 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-to-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. Gretzky won the Most valuable Player (MVP) Award in the tournament as he was the leading scorer (3 Goals - 18 assists - 21 Points).
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 worth). It was refined at the Inco nickel smelter in Sudbury, Ontario in 1976, commissioned by D. Scott McCann, President of Teledyne Canada. The cup weighs nearly 140 pounds. Donna Scott (Queen's University, Bachelor of Fine Arts, 1985 ) designed the cup, her inspiration was Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of the Moon album cover. 
It is on display at Rideau Hall, the residence of the Governor General in Ottawa.
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. $32,000 was raised. Three weeks later the trophy was presented to the Soviet Union's ambassador Vladimir Mechulayev in Winnipeg. 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.
|1981||Soviet Union||Canada||Vladislav Tretiak|
|1987||Canada||Soviet Union||Wayne Gretzky|
|1991||Canada||United States||Bill Ranford|
All Time Results Table
|Nation||Number of appearances||Games||Wins||Losses||Ties||GF||GA||Best result|
|Canada||5||39||28||5||6||181||105||Cup: 76, 84, 87, 91|
|Soviet Union||5||32||18||10||4||135||85||Cup: 81|
|United States||5||30||13||14||3||97||106||Runner-Up: 91|
|West Germany||1||5||0||4||1||13||29||Sixth: 84|
- National Hockey League
- International Ice Hockey Federation
- Ice Hockey World Championships
- World Professional Hockey Championships
- 1972 Summit Series
- 1974 Summit Series
- World Cup of Hockey
- Ice hockey at the Olympic Games
- Super Series '76-77
- Super Series
- Subway Super Series
- 2007 Super Series
- NHL Challenge
- Rendez-vous '87
- Victoria Cup
- List of KHL vs NHL games
- List of international ice hockey competitions featuring NHL players
- List of international games played by NHL teams
- "Canada Cup (World Cup of Hockey)". Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2009-09-20.
- The Canada Cup of Hockey Fact and Stat Book, p. 2, H.J. Anderson, ISBN 1-4120-5512-1, ISBN 978-1-4120-5512-3, Publisher: Trafford Publishing, 2005
- Szemberg, Szymon; Podnieks, Andrew (2008). "Story #6–First Canada Cup opens up the hockey world". International Ice Hockey Federation. Retrieved 2009-03-10.
- "Tigertown Triumphs" (Press release). The Hamilton Spectator-Memory Project (Souvenir Edition) page MP56. 2006-06-10.
- McKinley, Michael (2006). Hockey: A People's History. McClelland & Stewart Ltd. p. 246. ISBN 0-7710-5769-5.
- Canada Cup Controversy - CBC News: The National
- Anderson, H.J (2005), The Canada Cup of Hockey Fact and Stat Book, Trafford, ISBN 1-4120-5512-1
- Willes, Ed (2008), Gretzky to Lemieux: The Story of the 1987 Canada Cup, Emblem ed, ISBN 9780771088490