What is the best team (national team representing a certain country) that there has ever been? Not JUST on paper, but also on the ice as well. Here is my top 4: 1. The Soviets Â´79 This is of course the team which triumphed in the Challenge Cup, but its not the only proof of their greatness. In the 1978-79 season their only loss was that 4-2 L to NHL All Stars and in the Â´78 Izvestia tournament Czechoslovakia held them to a 3-3 tie and those two blots were certainly avenged (in the Â´79 WCs silver medallists Czechs were beaten by scores of 11-1 and 6-1!). I think that around this time the Soviets finally had a team which had four really strong lines and the young new defensemen like Bilyaletnidov, Babinov and of course Fetisov had brought much needed reliability in their own end. Okay, so they didnÂ´t win, say, a Canada Cup, but thereÂ´s nothing suggesting to me that they wouldnÂ´t have (if it had been held around this time). KEY PLAYERS: Mikhailov, Petrov, Kharlamov, Balderis, Kapustin, Maltsev, Fetisov, Tretiak, Vasiliev, Makarov... 2. Soviets Â´81 ItÂ´s only a couple years later, but this was different team than the one of Â´79. After Lake Placid Tikhonov was forced to make some changes and, well, it worked! The Soviets were virtually unbeatable in the early 80s. The big thing about them (along with their obvious skill) was their youth; many of the key players were under 25 years old... Their crowning achievement was of course that Â´81 Canada Cup and annihilation of Team Canada in the final. The team was young, hungry and ridiculously talented and Tretiak was probably giving his best goaltending at this time. How could you beat that? KEY PLAYERS: Green Unit, Shepelev, Shalimov, Kapustin, Khomutov, Tretiak... 3. Team Canada Â´76 On paper, they might be the best team ever assembled (certainly on defense!), but after seeing all their games (except vs. Finland) in the Â´76 Canada Cup, IÂ´m still not convinced that they would have beaten those aforementioned Soviet teams, especially best of 3. Still, itÂ´s the best Canadian team ever IMO and a brilliant blend of talent; from great work horses like Clarke, Gainey and Mcdonald to ultra-exciting skillsters like Perreault, Lafleur and of course Bobby Orr in his so called last hurrah. And older guys like Hull and Esposito were still pretty useful, on power play at least... However, I think that many players should have raised their level of play in order to beat those Soviet teams. This Team CanadaÂ´s potential was unlimited, but they just didnÂ´t give that sort of performance that would make them greatest team ever IMO. Even the 6-0 blowout of Czechoslovakia in the first final seemed to be more of a case of Czechs playing a lacklustre game than anything else. KEY PLAYERS: Perreault, Orr, Potvin, Clarke, Vachon, Hull, Robinson, Sittler, Esposito... 4. Team Canada Â´87 A team heavily dependent on Gretzky and Lemieux, of course. I think theyÂ´re maybe the Canadian team who played the best as a team, especially on power plays. Just compare their passing plays to those of the Â´72 team, for instance, and itÂ´s like from another planet! However, I think that the team was slightly too unbalanced to be called the greatest ever. They beat the Soviets in the Canada Cup finals by the slightest of margins and it was not quite the Soviet team of Â´79 or Â´81. Many also feel that the refereeing was very biased in those finals... Still, the team had without a shadow of a doubt the best combo in hockey ever (guess who!) and lots of other great players... KEY PLAYERS: Gretzky, Lemieux, Messier, Coffey, Fuhr, Bourque, Gartner, Hawerchuk, Gretzky, Lemieux ... Others: Team Canada Â´02 - Won the Olympic gold Czechs Â´98 - ditto Team Canada Â´72 - Won the Summit Series, but the best team ever? NO WAY!