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Timeline: The NHL and the international game

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1938 - The Montreal Canadiens and Detroit Red Wings play a series of postseason exhibition games in Europe. This is the first overseas tour by NHL players.

1959 - The Boston Bruins and New York Rangers make the second tour of Europe by NHL clubs.

1965 - Swede Ulf Sterner becomes the first European-trained player to appear in an NHL game as his New York Rangers defeat Boston 5-2 (1/27/65).

1969 - The first European-trained player is selected in the NHL Draft as the St. Louis Blues take Finland's Tommi Salmelainen 66th overall.

1970 - Canada withdraws from international competition over a dispute as to whether professional players should be permitted to compete in international events. Canada would not compete in IIHF events until the 1977 World Championships.

1972 - The first series between Canadian NHL players and the Soviet Union is held in September. The Summit Series is won by Canada, 4-3-1.

1975 - In the first of what would become almost annual fixtures involving NHL and Soviet teams until 1990, Soviet club teams tour North America to face NHL clubs.

1976 - The inaugural Canada Cup is staged, with six nations competing: Canada, Czechoslovakia, Finland, Soviet Union, Sweden and United States.

1976 - The Washington Capitals and Kansas City Scouts meet in a four-game preseason series in Tokyo and Sapporo, Japan.

1980 - Anders Kallur and Stefan Persson of Sweden (New York Islanders) become the first European-trained players to have their names engraved on the Stanley Cup.

1980 - Four months after celebrating with his U.S. teammates in the 'Miracle on Ice,' Islanders rookie defenseman Ken Morrow becomes the first player to win an Olympic gold medal and the Stanley Cup in the same season. Many of Morrow's teammates and legendary head coach Herb Brooks go on to forge careers in the NHL.

1980 - The Minnesota North Stars and Washington Capitals participate in a preseason round robin tournament against club teams in Sweden.

1981 - The second staging of the Canada Cup again features Canada, the United States, Sweden, Finland Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union, under an expanded format that includes a semifinals round. The one-game final sees the Soviet Union dominate Canada in winning by the shocking count of 8-1.

1984 - The 1984 Canada Cup field features one change from past tournaments, as West Germany replaces Finland. Canada gains a measure of revenge for their lopsided defeat three years before by eliminating the Soviet Union in overtime of a thrilling semifinal. The Canadians sweep Sweden in the best-of-three final.

1987 - Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux team up for the first time as the 1987 Canada Cup features among the most exciting action in international tournament history. Canada defeats the Soviet Union 2-1 in the best-of-three final in which each game is decided by a 6-5 score.

1988 - In January, the International Olympic Committee agrees to allow limited participation in the Olympics by professional hockey players. Seven NHL players join Team Canada for the 1988 Calgary Games: Brian Bradley, Andy Moog, Randy Gregg, Jim Peplinski, Steve Tambellini, Tim Watters and Gary Yaremchuk.

1989 - Sweden's Mats Sundin (Quebec Nordiques) becomes the first European player selected first overall in the NHL Draft.

1989 - Soviet winger Sergei Priakin becomes the first player permitted by the Soviet Ice Hockey Federation to play in the NHL. Priakin signs a contract with the Calgary Flames and makes his NHL debut on 3/31/89.

1989 - In September, the Calgary Flames and Washington Capitals become the first NHL teams to conduct a portion of training camp in the Soviet Union, where they also play four games against Soviet club teams.

1989 - The Berlin Wall falls on Nov. 9, further paving the way for players from Eastern bloc countries to join the NHL.

1989 - The percentage of European players in the NHL tops 10% for the first time (12% in 1989-90).

1990 - A record four NHL clubs (Edmonton Oilers, Minnesota North Stars, Montreal Canadiens, St. Louis Blues) travel overseas for preseason training and games in four countries (Austria, Soviet Union, Sweden, West Germany).

1991 - In the first all-North American final in Canada Cup tournament history, Canada wins its third consecutive title by defeating the U.S. 2-0 in the best-of-three series. Canada's Wayne Gretzky earns his fourth consecutive Canada Cup scoring title.

1992 - The Chicago Blackhawks and Montreal Canadiens play a two-game exhibition series at Wembley Arena in London.

1993 - The New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs play a two-game exhibition series at Wembley Arena in London.

1994 - The NHL and IIHF reach agreement on NHL players participating at the 1998 Olympic Winter Games.

1994 - The Winnipeg Jets, led by national icon Teemu Selanne, travel to Finland for a preseason tournament against Finnish club teams.

1994 - Russian native Sergei Fedorov of the Detroit Red Wings becomes the first European player to win the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP.

1995 - The percentage of European players in the NHL tops 20% for the first time (21% in 1995-96).

1995 - Czech native Jaromir Jagr of the Pittsburgh Penguins becomes the first European player to lead the NHL in scoring.

1996 - The first World Cup of Hockey is staged in August and September, featuring an expanded international field with games on both sides of the Atlantic. In an all-North American final, Team USA rallies to defeat Canada 2-1 in a thrilling best-of-three series.

1997 - The NHL opens the regular season with games outside North America for the first time when the Vancouver Canucks and Anaheim Ducks face off in Tokyo. NHL hockey would return to Japan to open the regular season in 1998-99 (Calgary, San Jose) and 1999-2000 (Nashville, Pittsburgh).

1998 - The NHL changes its All-Star Game format to an international theme: North America vs. World All-Stars.

1998 - The NHL takes an unprecedented 17-day break in its regular season to allow 121 NHL players to represent their countries at the Olympic Winter Games in Nagano. Backstopped by the sensational goaltending of Dominik Hasek, the Czech Republic captures its first Olympic gold medal.

1998 - The Buffalo Sabres and Tampa Bay Lightning travel to Austria to play preseason games against each other and Austrian squads.

2000 - A record 123 European players are selected at the 2000 NHL Draft (42% of all drafted players).

2000 - The NHL returns to Sweden as the Vancouver Canucks face Swedish teams Djurgarden, AIK and MoDo at the Globe Arena in Stockholm.

2002 - 146 NHL players represent their countries at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City. Canada captures its first Olympic gold medal in 50 years.

2004 - The second World Cup of Hockey is held in several venues in North America and Europe. Canada defeats Finland 3-2 in the one-game final at Toronto.

2006 - 151 NHL players represent their countries at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Turin. Sweden defeats Finland in the first gold-medal game between the longtime Scandinavian rivals.

2007 - The first NHL regular-season games are played in Europe as the defending Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks take on the Los Angeles Kings in a two-game series in London.

2008 - Nicklas Lidstrom of the Detroit Red Wings becomes the first European-born captain to hoist the Stanley Cup and teammate Henrik Zetterberg is voted the first European-born Conn Smythe Trophy winner as playoff MVP.

2008 - Four NHL teams (NY Rangers, Ottawa, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay) travel to Europe to play a schedule of six exhibition games and four regular-season games in six European countries (Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Slovakia, Switzerland, Sweden) over the course of eight days.

2009 - Four NHL teams (Chicago, Detroit, Florida, St. Louis) travel to Europe to play six exhibition games and four regular-season NHL games in three European countries (Finland, Sweden, Switzerland) over six days.

2010 - 141 NHL players represent their countries at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver. Canada defeats the United States in sudden-death overtime of the gold-medal game on the 'golden goal' by Sidney Crosby.

2010 - The NHL's largest overseas delegation ever travels to Europe at the start of the 2010-11 season. Six clubs -- Boston, Carolina, Columbus, Minnesota, Phoenix and San Jose -- play a total of 13 pre- and regular-season games in Finland, Sweden and Switzerland.

2011 - For a record fifth consecutive season the NHL plays regular-season games in Europe. The New York Rangers, Los Angeles Kings, Buffalo Sabres and Anaheim Ducks play a total of four games in three capital cities -- Berlin, Stockholm and Helsinki.

2011 - NHL.com launches websites in several languages, including those in Czech, Finnish, Russian and Swedish, at the start of the 2011-12 season.

2014 - 147 NHL players represent their countries at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi. Canada wins its third gold medal in the past four Olympics.

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2004 World Cup of Hockey

The 2004 World Cup of Hockey was similar in format to the inaugural event in 1996. Eight national teams were divided into two groups, with Canada, Russia, Slovakia and the United States forming the North American Pool and playing preliminary round/quarterfinal games in North America. The Czech Republic, Finland, Germany and Sweden formed the European Pool and played preliminary round/quarterfinal games in Europe.

Canada returned to the winner's podium, winning all six of its starts in capturing its fifth World Cup of Hockey/Canada Cup championship in seven tournaments. Making his final appearance in a Team Canada jersey, 39-year-old captain Mario Lemieux threaded a cross-ice pass to set up Joe Sakic for the game's opening goal just 52 seconds into the final against Finland.

ROUND ROBIN STANDINGS
North American Pool
  GP W L T OTL GF G Pts
Canada 3 3 0 0 0 10 3 6
Russia 3 2 1 0 0 9 6 4
United States 3 1 2 0 0 5 6 2
Slovakia 3 0 3 0 0 4 13 0
European Pool
  GP W L T OTL GF GA Pts
Finland 3 2 0 1 0 11 4 5
Sweden 3 2 0 1 0 13 9 5
Czech Republic 3 1 2 0 0 10 10 2
Germany 3 0 3 0 0 4 15 0
QUARTERFINALS
City Matchup Result
Helsinki Finland vs. Germany 2-1 FIN
Stockholm Czech Republic vs. Sweden 6-1 CZE
St. Paul Russia vs. United States 5-3 USA
Toronto Canada vs. Slovakia 5-0 CAN
SEMIFINALS
City Matchup Result
St. Paul Finland vs. United States 2-1 FIN
Toronto Canada vs. Czech Republic 4-3 CAN (OT)
FINAL
City Matchup Result
Toronto Canada vs. Finland 3-2 CAN
LEADING SCORERS
Player Team GP G A Pts
Fredrik Modin Sweden 4 4 4 8
Vincent Lecavalier Canada 6 2 5 7
Keith Tkachuk United States 5 5 1 6
Joe Sakic Canada 6 4 2 6
Martin Havlat Czech Republic 5 3 3 6
TOURNAMENT MVP
Vincent Lecavalier, Canada

1996 World Cup of Hockey

The first World Cup of Hockey was staged in August and September, 1996 and featured an expanded international field with games on both sides of the Atlantic. Eight national teams were divided into two groups, with Canada, Russia, Slovakia and the United States contesting round robin play in North America and the Czech Republic, Finland, Germany and Sweden playing in Europe.

In an all-North American final, Team USA rallied to defeat Canada in a thrilling best-of-three series. An overtime goal by Steve Yzerman gave Canada the win in Game 1 at Philadelphia. Team USA won Games 2 and 3 in Montreal by identical 5-2 scores, backstopped by the tournament MVP goaltending of Mike Richter. The tournament-winning goal was scored by Tony Amonte, who broke a 2-2 tie with 2:35 remaining in Game 3.

ROUND ROBIN STANDINGS
North American Pool
  GP W L T GF GA Pts
United States 3 3 0 0 19 8 6
Canada 3 2 1 0 11 10 4
Russia 3 1 2 0 12 14 2
Slovakia 3 0 3 0 9 19 0
European Pool
  GP W L T GF GA Pts
Sweden 3 3 0 0 14 3 6
Finland 3 2 1 0 17 11 4
Germany 3 1 2 0 11 15 2
Czech Republic 3 0 3 0 4 17 0
QUARTERFINALS
City Matchup Result
Montreal Canada vs. Germany 4-1 CAN
Ottawa Finland vs. Russia 5-0 RUS
(as Pool winners, United States and Sweden received QF bye)
SEMIFINALS
City Matchup Result
Philadelphia Canada vs. Sweden 3-2 CAN (OT)
Ottawa Russia vs. United States 5-2 USA
FINAL
City Matchup Result
Philadelphia Canada vs. United States 4-3 CAN (OT)
Montreal Canada vs. United States 5-2 USA
Montreal Canada vs. United States 5-2 USA
LEADING SCORERS
Player Team GP G A Pts
Brett Hull United States 7 7 4 11
John LeClair United States 7 6 4 10
Mats Sundin Sweden 4 4 3 7
Brendan Shanahan Canada 7 3 4 7
Doug Weight United States 7 3 4 7
Wayne Gretzky Canada 8 3 4 7
TOURNAMENT MVP
Mike Richter, United States

1991 Canada Cup

The 1991 Canada Cup featured the first Canada-USA final in tournament history. Led by Mike Modano, Brett Hull, Brian Leetch, Pat LaFontaine and goaltender Mike Richter, the U.S. lost only to Canada in the preliminary round and was looking for revenge in the final. Canada won its third consecutive title however, defeating the U.S. 2-0 in the best-of-three series. Canada's Wayne Gretzky earned his fourth consecutive Canada Cup scoring title.

With veteran national team members Vladimir Krutov and Igor Larionov allowed to join the NHL in 1989-90 and the subsequent defections of Alexander Mogilny and Sergei Fedorov, the Soviets no longer had complete access to their finest hockey resources. They posted a 1-3-1 record in round robin play and failed to qualify for the semifinals.

ROUND ROBIN STANDINGS
  GP W L T GF GA Pts
Canada 5 3 0 2 21 11 8
United States 5 4 1 0 19 15 8
Finland 5 2 2 1 10 13 5
Sweden 5 2 3 0 13 17 4
Soviet Union 5 1 3 1 14 14 3
Czechoslovakia 5 1 4 0 11 18 2
SEMIFINALS
City Matchup Result
Hamilton Finland vs. United States 7-3 USA
Toronto Canada vs. Sweden 4-0 CAN
FINAL
City Matchup Result
Montreal Canada vs. United States 4-1 CAN
Hamilton Canada vs. United States 4-2 CAN
LEADING SCORERS
Player Team GP G A Pts
Wayne Gretzky Canada 7 4 8 12
Steve Larmer Canada 8 6 5 11
Brett Hull United States 8 2 7 9
Mike Modano United States 8 2 7 9
Mark Messier Canada 8 2 6 8
TOURNAMENT MVP
Wayne Gretzky, Canada

1987 Canada Cup

The 1987 Canada Cup featured the emergence of Mario Lemieux as a true superstar. Teamed with Wayne Gretzky, the combination of two of hockey’s most gifted offensive players resulted in some of the most exciting games in the sport’s history.

Canada did not suffer a loss in the round robin schedule, dispatched Czechoslovakia in the semifinals and met a veteran-laden Soviet Union in the tournament final for the second time.

After the Soviets captured Game 1 of the final 6-5 in overtime, Lemieux ended a classic Game 2 on a feed from Gretzky at 10:06 of the second overtime period for a 6-5 Canadian victory. With 1:26 remaining in the third and final game, Lemieux again converted a Gretzky pass for a 6-5 Canada Cup-winning victory.

1984 Canada Cup

Though the 1984 Canada Cup took place just three years after the previous event, it featured a number of differences both on the ice and in its format. Among them was the debut of the West Germany team, who replaced Finland by virtue of a fifth-place finish at the most recent World Championships. (Finland was seventh.)

Another change saw four-time Stanley Cup champion Bryan Trottier cross the border, switching from Team Canada to the United States. Trottier’s presence, along with other NHL stars Bob Carpenter, Joe Mullen, Rod Langway and Tom Barrasso, gave the Americans their strongest lineup in Canada Cup history.

The Soviets became the first team in tournament history to emerge from the round robin with a perfect record, capping off their 5-0-0 run with a 6-3 win over Canada. The two bitter rivals met just 72 hours later in a one-game semifinal. With Pete Peeters replacing Reggie Lemelin in goal, Canada battled the Soviets to a 2-2 tie through 60 minutes. At 12:29 of overtime, Mike Bossy tipped in a Paul Coffey shot and Canada had a 3-2 victory.

As in 1976, the tournament final was a best-of-three affair, though the series proved to be an anticlimax after the thrilling Canada-Soviet semifinal. The Canadians swept Sweden with victories by 5-2 and 6-5 scores.

1981 Canada Cup

The second staging of the Canada Cup again featured Canada, the United States, Sweden, Finland Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union vying for international hockey supremacy, under a format that had been expanded to include a semifinals round.

After torching NHL opposition for a League-record 164 points during the 1980-81 NHL regular season, all eyes were on Canada's 20-year-old phenom Wayne Gretzky, who was making his senior international debut. Gretzky headed up a Canadian roster that also featured Mike Bossy, Bryan Trottier, Clark Gillies and Denis Potvin of the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion New York Islanders. Among the talented crop of Soviet newcomers were 21-year-olds Alexei Kasatonov, Igor Larionov and Vladimir Krutov.

The one-game final saw the Soviet Union dominate Canada in winning by the shocking count of 8-1. The Soviets kept Gretzky, the tournament’s leading scorer, off the scoresheet. Veteran Soviet goaltender Vladislav Tretiak was named tournament MVP after the Soviets allowed just 15 goals in seven games.

1976 Canada Cup

Created by the NHL, the NHLPA and Hockey Canada in 1976, the Canada Cup gave NHL players a chance to represent their native countries for the first time. The star of the tournament for Canada was Bobby Orr, who enjoyed a final turn in the spotlight before repeated knee injuries ended his brilliant career. Orr collected 2-7--9 in five games to tie for the overall scoring lead and was voted tournament MVP.

With many predicting a Canada-Soviet Union final in a rematch of their epic 1972 Summit Series, the strong play of Czechoslovakian team changed the narrative. Czechoslovakia shocked the host nation by handing Canada its only preliminary round defeat, 1-0, and qualified for the Final with a 3-1-1 mark.

Team Canada avenged its earlier defeat by sweeping Czechoslovakia in the best-of-three final series. The tournament-winning goal, scored by Toronto Maple Leafs star Darryl Sittler in overtime of Game 2, remains an iconic moment in Canada's international hockey history.


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