SUN Hockey Pool

1987 memories

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:07 AM ET

It was the last hurrah for the Big Red Machine, but no one on the visitors' bench was laughing.

Mario Lemieux's memorable Canada Cup-winning goal had done more than just end the riveting 1987 tournament by giving the hosts a 6-5 victory in the third and deciding game of the final.

Indeed, lost in all the celebrations at Copps Coliseum that night 17 years ago was the realization that a wonderful era in Soviet hockey had reached its conclusion.

"Not only was it the most exciting hockey I'd ever been part of, but it was probably the final time that hockey was played in the backdrop of the good guy-bad guy scenario," defenceman Larry Murphy said yesterday, referring to the Canada-Soviet rivalry.

"It was probably the last stand of the Evil Empire."

Murphy and fellow Hockey Hall of Fame inductees Ray Bourque and Paul Coffey are thankful to have participated in that wonderful experience as members of Team Canada. As they point out, Soviet hockey, such an overwhelming presence in the minds of North American fans dating back to the 1972 Summit Series, would never be the same.

By the end of the decade, established Soviet staples such as Slava Fetisov were joined by budding superstars such as Alex Mogilny in the NHL.

No longer would there be the same spice in hockey's cold war.

"That's one of the things that made '87 so fun,"Murphy said."Back then they still were the dominant team that had won so many tournaments."

There would be no victory this time, though.

Murphy, in particular, played a role during the rush that led to Lemieux's historic moment.

"I was doing my part. I was a decoy," Murphy said. "That's what they get for worrying about me. Mario made them pay."

Bourque, also on the ice at the time of Lemieux's heroics, still raves about the tournament to this day.

"That probably was the last of the Russian dynasty," Bourque said. "It was the best hockey I've been a part of. The pace was incredible."


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