The 1991 Canada Cup was very different from all the other Canada Cups.
The fall of communism in Eastern Europe saw weakened Russian and Czechoslovakian teams both miss the
playoffs. Both teams were missing many top stars that opted not to play or were not invited back. As a
result, both teams sent rosters full of unfamiliar names, and, with a few exceptions, remained unfamiliar
over the course of history.
After watching the team improve over the history of the Canada Cup, the United States emerged as a
legitimate hockey power in 1991. They iced their usual strong, physical team but sprinkled in some of the
most talented players in U.S. history including a stalwart goalie in Mike Richter, an offensive defenseman in
Brian Leetch, and three game-breaking forwards in Mike Modano, Pat Lafontaine and Brett Hull.
The Scandinavian countries represented themselves nicely. Mats Sundin had one of the best series in
tournament history to lead Sweden, while Finland, perennial basement dwellers, emerged as a surprisingly
Canada's great depth was the key to its fourth Canada Cup championship in 1991. Mario Lemieux, Ray
Bourque, Steve Yzerman, Adam Oates, Joe Sakic, Patrick Roy and Cam Neely all missed the tournament for
various reasons, leaving Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier as the only "superstars" on the team.
Gretzky continued to prove he was playing at his best, although USA's Gary Suter made a name for himself
by cross checking Gretzky into the boards causing Gretzky to miss the final game due to back spasms.
Canada managed to defeat the Americans despite the loss of Gretzky. Bill Ranford was spectacular in net
while Mark Messier and Steve Larmer picked up their game. The Americans, accurately dubbed as "the best
U.S. team ever" by general manager Craig Patrick, were inspired by their dying coach Bob Johnson, who
fell ill with a brain tumour as the tournament began. They put in a gutsy effort, very deserving of their
second place finish.
Canada's two game sweep of the Americans in the finals reaffirmed Canada's dominance in international
hockey. The tournament also highlighted the nearing arrival of parity as all nations were now capable of