Canada Carried Host Nation Hopes

Stanley Cup winner STEVE TAMBELLINI takes on a Swede at the 1988 Winter Olympic Games in Calgary, Canada. Tambellini was a member of the New York Islanders first Stanley Cup champion in 1980. The 29-year-old Vancouver Canucks center totaled one goal and three assists for Canada at the Calgary Games.

Stanley Cup winner STEVE TAMBELLINI takes on a Swede at the 1988 Winter Olympic Games in Calgary, Canada. Tambellini was a member of the New York Islanders first Stanley Cup champion in 1980. The 29-year-old Vancouver Canucks center totaled one goal and three assists for Canada at the Calgary Games.

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As luck would have it, CANADA, who had for so long been prohibited from engaging National Hockey League professionals past or present, were now free to pick any player on the very occasion the historical home of ice hockey would host the prestigous Winter Olympic Games in 1988.

In all, the Canadian national team came to Calgary carrying thirteen players (out of 23) with NHL experience. Two of the most-recent Stanley Cup champions were on board — defenseman RANDY GREGG ‘retired’ from the Edmonton Oilers so as to skate at his second Winter Games while goaltender ANDY MOOG was embroiled in a contract dispute with the NHL club. SERGE BOISVERT, who had his name engraved on the Stanley Cup following the 1985-86 season for his work with the Montreal Canadiens, was another ex-NHLer in the fold for Canadian coach DAVE KING.

Three current National Hockey Leaguers were added to King’s contingent three days before the start of the Olympics to join two other players previously sent by Canadian NHL clubs. These were the so-called ‘reinforcements’. While the National Hockey League never had any intention of suspending operations to allow its players to compete, the league office did state that NHL clubs would be free to ‘loan’ players for the Olympics if they so desired.

Forwards BRIAN BRADLEY of the Calgary Flames and KEN YAREMCHUK of the Toronto Maple Leafs were assigned to Canada’s national team during the season; defenseman TIM WATTERS (like Gregg, appearing for a second Olympic tournament) of the Winnipeg Jets in addition to Vancouver Canucks center STEVE TAMBELLINI and Calgary Flames right wing JIM PEPLINSKI were released by their clubs on the eve of the competition.

Expectations for host nation Canada’s ice hockey team were high heading into the Calgary Games. Particularly after King’s charges captured the prestigous Izvestia Cup, often viewed as the Olympic dress rehearsal, in Moscow over the Christmas holidays.

SPORTS ILLUSTRATED went so far as to project Canada the 1988 tournament winner.

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