The final Canada Cup match ever played occurred on this date. Plus, the greatest player in National Hockey League history took place in his first-ever professional and NHL training camp exactly one year apart.
Final Canada Cup Champion Crowned
The last Canada Cup championship game was played on Sept. 16, 1991. The tournament was replaced with the World Cup of Hockey in 1996. In total, six countries competed in the 18-day tournament: Canada, the United States, Finland, Sweden, the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia.
The United States beat Finland in the semifinals with Canada dispatching Sweden to set up the matchup for the best-of-three championship series. Canada won the first game, 4-1, and looked to clinch another tournament victory at the Copps Coliseum in Hamilton, Ontario.
Mark Messier opened the scoring at the 13:39 mark of the first period and his future New York Rangers’ teammate, Steve Larmer, doubled the lead just 20 seconds later. The Americans fought back with two goals in the second period. Jeremy Roenick scored on the power play to get them on the board before Kevin Miller tied the game about seven minutes later.
Larmer’s shorthanded goal, about 12 minutes into the third period, proved to be the game-winner. His teammate with the Chicago Blackhawks, Dirk Graham, iced the game with an empty-net goal in the final minute of play.
Canada won the final game without the services of Wayne Gretzky, who was injured in the previous game. He still led the tournament with 12 points (four goals, eight assists). Goaltender Bill Ranford is named the most valuable player of the tournament as he went 6-0-2 with a sterling 1.75 goals-against average (GAA). Canada won four out of the five Canada Cup tournaments ever played. Their only defeat in the championship came in 1981 when they lost to the Soviet Union.
Two Hall of Fame Classes Announced
The Hockey Hall of Fame added seven new members on this date. First, on Sept. 16, 1996, Bobby Bauer and Borje Salming were added as players and Al Arbour was voted in as a builder.
Bauer was a right winger who starred for the Boston Bruins in the 1930s and 1940s. He was a part of two Stanley Cup championships and won the Lady Bing Trophy, for being game’s most gentlemanly player, three times. He scored a career-high 30 goals during his final season of 1946-47.
Salming was one of the first European-born players to star in the NHL. The defenseman played in 1,099 games for the Toronto Maples, over 16 seasons, scoring 148 goals and 768 points while posting a plus-150 rating. The six-time All-Star’s final season in the league, 1989-90, was spent with the Detroit Red Wings.
Arbour played 626 games as a defenseman and won three Stanley Cups, but he was inducted into the Hall of Fame for his work behind the bench. He was the head coach of the New York Islanders for all four of their championships in the early 1980s. When he retired, his 782 career wins were the second-most in NHL history.
Two years later, on Sept. 16, 1988, Roy Conacher, Michel Goulet and Peter Stastny got the nod as players and builder Athol Murray was also voted into the Hall of Fame.
Conacher joined his brothers Charlie and Lionel, who were inducted in 1961 and 1994, respectively. He scored 226 goals and 427 points in 490 games for the Bruins, Red Wings and Blackhawks between 1938 and 1952. He won a pair of Stanley Cups win Bauer and the Bruins in 1939 and 1941.
Goulet was a five-time All-Star in 15 seasons with the Quebec Nordiques and Blackhawks. He scored 456 of his 548 goals with the Nordiques, including four straight seasons of at least 53 goals between 1982-83 and 1985-86. He played in 1,089 total games before suffering a career-ending concussion in 1994.
Stastny was a teammate of Goulet’s in Quebec for a decade. He and his brothers, Anton and Marian, defected from Czechoslovakia in 1980 and all signed with the Nordiques. Peter played in 977 total games and scored 450 goals and 1,239 points. After 10 seasons with the Nordiques, he played four more with the New Jersey Devils and 23 final games with the St. Louis Blues.
Murray was a Toronto-area Catholic Priest who started the famous Notre Dame Hound hockey team. Among the over 100 former Hounds who were drafted into NHL are Wendel Clark, Curtis Joseph, Rod Brind’Amour, Brad Richards and Vincent Lecavalier.
Gretzky Reports to Camp
On Sept. 16, 1978, Gretzky took part in his first training camp as a professional as he joins the Indianapolis Racers of the World Hockey Association (WHA). He played in eight games for the Racers before his contract is purchased by the Edmonton Oilers. He scored 46 goals and 110 points over 80 games in his lone WHA season.
When the Oilers are absorbed into the NHL following the 1978-79 season, they wisely protected Gretzky. He joined his teammate for the first day on NHL training camp, on Sept. 16, 1979, at the University of Alberta’s Varsity Arena. He went on to score 51 goals and 137 points in his first NHL season, winning the Hart Trophy for being the league’s most valuable player.
Odds & Ends
The Bruins purchased the contract of left wing Joe Klukay, on Sept. 16, 1952, from the Maple Leafs. He played in 150 games for the Bruns, scoring 33 goals and 66 points. In 1954, he was traded back to Toronto for defenseman Leo Boivin, who had a Hall of Fame career with the Bruins.
The Blues traded goaltender Wayne Stephenson, on Sept. 16, 1974, to the Philadelphia Flyers for the rights to Randy Andreachuk and a second-round pick in the 1975 NHL Amateur Draft.
He backed up Bernie Parent during the Flyers’ 1974-75 championship season. He was 40 games as the starter during the 1975-76 season. The Blues used the draft pick to select defenseman Jamie Masters, who played in just 33 NHL games. Andreachuk never played in the league.
Happy Birthday to You
A total of 21 current and former NHL players were born on Sept. 16. The first to play in the league was John Chad, who was born on this date in 1919. He scored 15 goals and 37 points in his 80 games for the Blackhawks in the 1940s. The most recent is Ottawa Senators forward Brady Tkachuk, who turns 21 today.
Left wing Eric Vail, born on Sept. 16, 1953, played in the most games of this group. He suited up in 591 games for the Flames, in both Atlanta and Calgary, and Red Wings between 1974 and 1982. He also had the most goals (216), assists (260) and points (476).
Other notable birthday boys include Rick Lanz (59), Kevin LaVallee (59), Patrik Stefan (40), Dustin Tokarski (31), Braden Holtby (31) and Anthony Mantha (26).