While the 1972 Summit Series between Canada and the Soviet Union will likely always be regarded by many
Canadians and hockey fans as the greatest hockey tournament, the 1987 Canada Cup dared to rival. Though the
political tensions and societal differences had mostly subsided over the years, the drama and intrigue were
equally present amongst the various countries and hockey playing nations.
The quality of players participating in 1987, led many to agree that 1987 Canada Cup featured the two
greatest teams ever iced (Canadian and Soviet Union), and the greatest hockey ever played.
" I don't think you'll ever see better hockey than what was played in that series," said Wayne
Gretzky. "For me, it was probably the best hockey I've ever played."
The 1987 Canada Cup not only had Wayne Gretzky near his absolute prime, but many others as well. Grant
Fuhr, Paul Coffey, Viacheslav Fetisov, Vladimir Krutov, and Sergei Makarov also were near the zenith of their
incredible careers. The series also witnessed the rise to prominence of a young Dominik Hasek, as well as the
elevation of Mario Lemieux into Gretzky's stratosphere.
There were few surprises in the round robin, with Canada and Soviet Union on top. Sweden and
Czechoslovakia edged out a hard-working United States team and an improving Finland team for the other two
playoff spots. Canada defeated Czechoslovakia while the Soviets defeated Sweden in the two semi-finals, to
set up the classic showdown between eternal rivals that everyone wanted to see.
The best of three series went the full distance and thrilled fans worldwide with quality and drama.
The Soviets handed the Canadians a 6-5 overtime loss in Montreal to take the all important first game.
Game two, a game many, including Wayne Gretzky, have called the greatest game ever played, went into double
overtime before Gretzky, with his fifth assist of the night, set up Lemieux for his hat trick goal to decide
the draining affair.
The Soviets jumped out to an early stranglehold in the third game, but Canada clawed their way back into
the game, eventually knotting the score to set up the last minute heroics.
With 1:26 left in the game and the series, Gretzky, Lemieux and Larry Murphy broke in on a three-on-one.
Gretzky slipped the perfect pass to Lemieux who snapped the puck past Soviet goaltender Sergei Mylnikov,
giving Canada the 1987 Canada Cup championship title.