When I was young my father had this inane ability to get tickets to hockey games that were hard to come by and I’m not really sure how he did it, to be honest I never bothered to ask. I got to see a lot of great hockey players by the time I was ten years old, Brett Hull, Wayne Gretzky (as a King), Ray Bourque, Steve Yzerman, etc. Unfortunately I don’t remember a whole lot from those games but in the summer of ’96 I was able to attend a very memorable hockey game. Nothing special, just an exhibition match between Russia and Canada before the 1996 World Cup of Hockey.
All the names were there for the most part. Federov, Messier, Coffey, Kasparaitis, Lindros, Mogilny, Brodeur, Gretzky, Zhamnov, Kovalev, Fleury, Jovonovski, Rob Blake, and Claude Lemieux too. I think this was Glen Sather’s last true hurrah as an NHL coach. He did have a couple stints with the Rangers in the early 2000s but nothing compared to what he did in Edmonton.
It was a dream for me to be able to see such greats! We were treated to a few Paul Coffey end-to-enders and some vintage Eric Lindros hits. Russia countered with Federov and Mogilny dazzling the crowd with their ability to perform wizardry with the puck and Darius Kasparaitis was his typical self getting into it with both Mark Messier and Eric Lindros.
Our seats were right at the top of the Saddledone but at centre ice. Even with that though there was a pillar in the way and the roof slopes down so that made it a tad difficult to watch but nevertheless I got to see almost all of my heroes (#66 wasn’t on that team). As I wrote recently here about Paul Coffey, he was definitely the player I wanted to watch the most. Canada played “Canadian” hockey and Russia played “Russian” hockey and it ended in a 4 all draw. What a treat! Head here for an old write-up on the game.
Here are some highlights of a different game though. Possibly the most famous of all the games at that tournament. Game three of the World Cup of Hockey Finals vs. the USA. A few Oilers and ex-Oilers feature.
As I said earlier, I don’t know how my dad got tickets to these games (he found a way to get tickets to the 1990 Stanley Cup Finals too) but I’m really happy he did. I think he enjoyed going to these games more to see my reaction to the players and how happy I was rather than for the entertainment of the game itself. I get it now.