1981 Canada Cup Final: Canada's Most Embarrassing International Loss?

Discussion in 'The History of Hockey' started by Chumley, Jan 6, 2011.

  1. Chumley

    Chumley Registered User

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    Do you think the 1981 Canada Cup Final where the Soviet Union defeated Canada 8-1 was the most embarrassing loss for Canada in international hockey history?
     
  2. Theokritos

    Theokritos Moderator

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    This or the first game of the Summit Series, 3-7 against the USSR at the Montréal Forum.
     
  3. Peter25

    Peter25 Registered User

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    1981 was the biggest defeat in Canadian hockey history. I hate to bring up this again, but the collapse in final game had a big effect on the future Canada Cups, and especially how the games were judged.

    Canada was a heavy favotire to win in 1981. They were the best team in round robin. The Soviets were also underestimated in North America. Young guys like Krutov, Makarov, Fetisov and Kasatonov were not household names in Canada back in 1981. The Soviet national team in the 1981 Canada Cup had very few players a regular Canadian hockey fan recognized.

    The Trojka Petrova was gone, and so were Alexander Yakushev, Vladimir Shadrin, Gennady Tsygankov, Vladimir Luchenko, Vladimir Vikulov and other greats from the 1972 Super Series. From the 1972 team only three players - Vladislav Tretiak, Valeri Vasilyev and Alexander Maltsev - were playing in the 1981 team. And Maltsev missed the final because of an injury.

    So it was basically an unknown, young Soviet team going against a Canadian team of Lafleur, Gretzky, Perreault, Dionne, Trottier, Bossy, Potvin, Robinson, Bourque, Gillies, Gainey and Middleton. I think Canada was overconfident that they would win, especially after beating the Soviets 7-3 in round robin.

    Why did Canada collapse in the final? They could not beat Tretiak in the first period, became frustrated and the Soviet capitalized on their changes with a scary efficiency. Almost every high percentage Soviet shot beat Mike Liut, and Liut was not bad in the game. You just cannot allow those Soviet snipers to shoot from close range and get breakaways, and expect the goalie to bail you out.
     
  4. saskganesh

    saskganesh Registered User

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    shellshock and disbelief? the team got frustrated and couldn't find a way back into the game.
     
  5. Big Phil

    Big Phil Registered User

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    Peter25, if you remember the Soviets won the 1979 Challenge Cup against the NHL All-Stars which was an all Canadian team with three Swedes. They certainly were not to be taken lightly. They certainly were pegged as co-favourites going into 1981 because in the official guide of the 1981 Canada Cup there is some shocking pessimism about Canada's chances. I'll have to dig out an article I have it at home.

    I remember them talking about Canada's relatively inexperienced defense. When you think of it, Bourque had two NHL seasons under his belt and the only defensemen with a lot of seasoning were Potvin and Robinson. Goaltending was a question mark too. Plus do you really think Liut "didn't have a bad game" as you mentioned?

    Anyway, yes I think 1981 is our darkest hour. Losing to Switzerland 2-0 in the 2006 Olympics hurt but it was a round robin game. At that time though, you just knew something wasn't right but we didn't get eliminated either.
     
  6. Peter25

    Peter25 Registered User

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    The Russian top pairing of Fetisov and Kasatonov was kind of inexperienced back then as well, but they were great. Especially Kasatonov. I think the 1981 Canada Cup was the best tournament Kasatonov ever played.

    As for Bourque, yes, he was pretty bad in the final game. I remember him losing the puck right in front of Canada's goal to Sergei Shepelev who scored the 2-1 goal which proved to be the game winner.


    Liut was not stellar but he was not the reason why Canada did not win the tournament. Each Soviet goal (except maybe Golikov's 7-1 goal) were scored from the prime scoring area.

    1-0. Vladimir Krutov passes to Igor Larionov who is alone in front of Liut's goal. Larionov one-times the puck past Mike Liut. No chance for the goalie.

    2-1. Ray Bourque loses the puck in front of the Liut's goal to Sergei Shepelev. Shepelev back-hands the puck past Liut. Not Liut's fault.

    3-1. Soviets on the PP. Sergei Kapustin passes the puck to Shepelev who is standing in the middle of Canada's box play. Shepelev is allowed to take a hard wrist shot. The shot is unscreened but very hard and accurate, and beats Liut to upper right corner. Not goalie's fault. Canada's SH players should have covered Shepelev better.

    4-1. Shepelev steals the puck from Bourque in Canada's zone and passes the puck to Sergei Makarov. Shepelev gets open on the slot and Makarov finds him with a pass. Shepelev beats the screened Liut with a hard low wrister. Stopping that shot would have required luck.

    5-1. Soviets playing shorthanded. Krutov beats Guy Lafleur one-on-one and gets a breakaway. Krutov beats Liut with another low hard wristshot. Again, not Liut's fault. This goal was all Lefleur's fault. Lafleur ducked when Krutov faked a shot, and allowed Krutov to skate right past him. A pathetic performance from the Montreal superstar.

    6-1. Soviets on the PP. Kasatonov passes Larionov to a breakway with a fantastic long and hard pass. Larionov beats Liut to an upper left corner. I cannot see this as Liut's fault either as it was a breakway situation. Canada's SH players did a poor job of letting Larionov sneak in behind their backs.

    7-1. Viktor Shalimov finds Irek Gimayev with a long rinkwide pass. Gimayev then drops the puck to Vladimir Golikov. Golikov is in a one-on-one situation with Larry Robinson. Golikov partially manages to go past Robinson and fires a backhand shot which beats Liut from his five-hole. This was the only bad goal Liut allowed in this game. The shot came from a bad angle and was unscreened. Liut should have stopped it.

    8-1. Valeri Vasilyev makes a pass to Alexander Skvortsov, and the Soviets get a two-on-one situation with Skvortsov and Andrei Khomutov facing Denis Potvin. Potvin covers Khomutov and allows Skvortsov freely to take a hard wrister from the slot which beats Liut. Not Liut's fault. Skvortsov was allowed to shoot unchecked from the prime scoring area.
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2011
  7. Rob

    Rob Registered User

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    Was the team too old?
     
  8. Big Phil

    Big Phil Registered User

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    Oh yes it is well documented that the entire Canadian team played poorly in 1981. But I would not let Liut off the hook either. He didn't make the big saves when needed either. Just because a player is in a prime scoring area it doesn't mean the goalie can't stop him
     
  9. Kyle McMahon

    Kyle McMahon Registered User

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    I'd put forth the 1998 loss at the Olympics.

    It was considered almost inconceivable that Canada would lose in a best-on-best format at the Olympics. The only possible threat was the Americans, who had beaten them a year and a half prior at the World Cup. This was the gold medal match-up. The rest would have to fight it out for bronze.

    Didn't quite work out that way.

    It's funny that the shootout has become embraced in the the NHL by so many (not me). At the time of the shootout loss to the Czech's it was considered appalling that a game be decided in such a manner. Eight years later and people suddenly thought it was a good idea for some reason.
     
  10. lazerbullet

    lazerbullet Registered User

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    I remember that Fetisov said they heard about Kharlamov's accident and death just before the game. So they decided to take this game for him. That probably played some role in such result.
     
  11. Theokritos

    Theokritos Moderator

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    Early Upsets:

    1930, February 7th, Vienna:
    The Toronto CCMs, designated to represent Canada in the LIHG/IIHF World Championship in Berlin, suffer a 0-1 defeat to Austria. It's the first time a team from Canada concedes a loss in Europe, and Austria takes even more gratification from the fact that the CCMs become world champions three days later by beating Germany 6-1.

    1933, February 26th, Prague:
    Representing Canada in the World Championship, the Toronto National Sea Fleas are defeated in the final by the Massachusetts Rangers, representing the United States of America, 1-2 after overtime. First Canadian defeat in a LIHG/IIHF tournament, first time Canada fails to take home the gold medal.

    1936, February 11th, Garmisch-Partenkirchen:
    Representing Canada in the Winter Olympics, the Port Arthur Bearcats suffer a 1-2 defeat to the national team of Great Britain, whose backbone actually consists of Canadians (British-Canadian dual citizens) engaged in the English National League. Great Britain wins gold.

    1949, February 15th, Stockholm:
    The Sudbury Wolves, representatives of Canada in the world championship, are beaten 2-3 by Czechoslovakia. First Canadian defeat to Europeans in a LIHG/IIHF tournament. Czechoslovakia wins gold.

    1954, March 7th, Stockholm:
    Representing Canada in the World Championship, the East York Lyndhursts suffer a 3-7 defeat against the Soviet Union. Second Canadian defeat to Europeans in a LIHG/IIHF tournament. The USSR, participating for the very first time, wins gold.
     
  12. tony d

    tony d Registered User Sponsor

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    No, for me it's the loss in the 1998 Olympics. We went into that tournament as the favourites and we didn't even medal.
     
  13. Jussi

    Jussi Registered User

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    Wasn't there also some friction between the Oilers and Islanders players? Or was that in 1984?
     
  14. jkrx

    jkrx Registered User

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    This thread is about an embarrassing loss not just a dissapointing tournament. 1981 canada cup final wins this hands down as Canada didn't play that bad in '98 but was stopped by the best goalie in the world at that time. They lost in shootouts so not that bad as being completely ridiculed by Soviet in '81.
     
  15. Theokritos

    Theokritos Moderator

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    How about the first game of the Summit Series? Canada expected a cakewalk and got defeated 3-7. In 1981, everyone was aware that the Soviets were considerable opponents, but in 1972 they were viewed as amateurs who were asking for a lesson.
     
  16. connellc

    connellc Registered User

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    If you guys are talking about ANY tournament that Canada has played, including juniors, the 7-3 loss to Kazatastan in the U20 tournament in 1998 for th places was pretty bad.
     
  17. arrbez

    arrbez bad chi

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    That still boggles my mind. Even in a terrible year for Canadian talent, I still don't understand how a team of top CHLers could lose to a a country like Kazakhstan.

    But really, can any team be expected to contain a healthy Nik Antropov?
     
  18. canucksfan

    canucksfan Registered User

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    What about the 06' Olympics where Canada lost 2-0 to Switzerland? Probably not the top but definitely up there.
     
  19. Peter25

    Peter25 Registered User

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    I think I already said that Liut was not great. No goalie can have a great game if he allows eight goals.

    But you cannot really blame Liut of those goals either, except for the 7th goal by Golikov. It was just a bad defensive game from Canada. You cannot allow the most accurate and skilled forwards in the world to have breakaways and shoot unchecked from prime scoring areas, and expect your goalie to bail you out. Not even Dominik Hasek of 1998 could have saved Canada that night.
     
  20. jkrx

    jkrx Registered User

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    Hasek of 98 could have saved France that night.
     
  21. canucksfan

    canucksfan Registered User

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    Here are the goals that Liut gave up

     
  22. VMBM

    VMBM Crawfish Fiesta

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    "Nobody told us!" Phil Esposito :D

    I think that partly translates to "nobody listened". Also, I believe there was some fairly misleading scouting report - based on one game or something. Ken Dryden, for one, should've known, as he was a (backup) goalie for Canadian teams in some international tournaments in the late 1960s and saw the Russians play many times. Maybe USSR improved a bit during the 2-3 years, but nevertheless, you'd think Dryden gave at least some sort of warning.
     
  23. The Soviets in this era were at thier peak.

    Just look at this Canada Cup and the Challenge Cup from a couple of years earlier, not to mention the usual domination of the World Championships and the Olympics (barring the mircle on ice). They trained together eleven months out of the year, and would be difficult to handle for any all star team, in any era.
     
  24. Uncle Rotter

    Uncle Rotter Registered User

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    That would be 1984. In 1981 Gretzky was the only Oiler there. In 1984 there were 8 Oilers (& Sather) to 4 Islanders, just a few months after the Stanley Cup Final. There were stories in the press about tension between the factions
     
  25. And alledgedly, it was Larry Robinson who proved to be very important in bridging the gap between the factions from the two teams.
     

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