My first wife and I and our two kids were in Russia in September of 1991, the same time the Canada Cup was being played back home. It was my first of six trips to Russia, and of course, because it was the first, it was the most magical.
We watched several Canada Cup games in our friends’ Leningrad home that fall, and it was simply a wonderful and fascinating experience. Not a lot of North Americans had seen the inside of Russian apartments at that time, it was at the beginning of the Soviet Union’s ultimate collapse, and here we were, in a home filled with Russian friends young and old, with plenty of laughter, food and drink, and with them and us wondering what each other was saying as we toasted each other or when a goal was scored on the little TV.
But this isn’t about Russia.
On our way to Leningrad we had made our way through Sweden and Finland, and I’d bought the comic book below while in Stockholm. It mentions the Canada Cup on the cover, but on the inside pages there seems to be nothing about the tournament, unless you count the Mats Sundin photo.
Mats, who had just completed his rookie season in the NHL with the Quebec Nordiques, was playing for his native Sweden in the 1991 Canada Cup, and was quoted in the local paper, with a huge headline, as how he and his Tre Kronor pals would have absolutely no problem with Team Canada. (I know because I asked the lady at the hotel desk to translate).
But they did have a problem. Canada kicked Mats’ Swedish team’s ass twice – 4-1 in round-robin, and 4-0 in the semi-finals, before taking out the Americans in two game straight to hoist gold.
Take that, Mats. Don’t poke the bear.