If you are from my generation or older, you know where you were 25 years ago when Canada and Russia squared off in the three game final series. Perhaps 3 of the best hockey games of their time, all finishing in 6-5 scores, essentially going right down to the wire.
It was a coming out party for Mario Lemieux, the moment where he learned what it took to win at the ultimate level. He learned from the greats of the dynasty before him, the Oilers (Gretzky, Coffey, Messier, Fuhr, Anderson) who formed the core of Team Canada 1987. Sprinkled in with a couple of Islanders from the previous dynasty (Hrudey, Brent Sutter).
Lemieux was the story, along with Gretzky as two of the best forwards in hockey history finally got a chance to play together on the same team. Lemieux, a 21 year old budding superstar at the time, learned from being around the championship knowledge, a lesson he took with him back to Pittsburgh. Those lessons helped him lead the Penguins to a pair of Stanley Cup Championships in the next 5 years.
On the other side, the Russians were led by the Soviet “green unit” of Larionov, Makarov and Krutov, along with defensemen Fetisov and Kasatonov. Younger Russians such as Igor Kravchuk, Valeri Kamensky, Alexei Gusarov and Sergei Nemchinov who would pave the way for Soviets in the NHL were also a part of the team.
This tournament was the last major one held before the Soviets started coming to the NHL en masse, and the mystery surrounding that Russian team made the matchup all the more intriguing.
TSN is rebroadcasting the final series, beginning with Game 1 tonight (Tuesday Sept.11th) at 7:30 PM Eastern. Its worth a second look (or a first look if you missed it 25 years ago).