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87 Days Until The Season Begins

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Photo credit:Bruce Bennett
Cam Lewis
2 months ago
Throughout the summer and into the fall, we’ll be counting down the days until the Edmonton Oilers begin their 2023-24 season with a daily trip down memory lane. Today, let’s talk about the NHL All-Stars taking on the U.S.S.R. at Rendez-vous ’87
Hosted by the Nordiques at the Colisée de Québec in February of 1987, Rendez-vous was a follow-up to the 1979 Challenge Cup that saw the NHL’s All-Star Team go up against the Soviet Union’s National Hockey Team, also known as the Red Machine. 
Unlike the Summit Series and the Canada Cup which pitted country against country, this two-game series was about putting the NHL’s best up against those who were considered to be the best players in the world outside of the league. The NHL All-Star Team was heavily Canadian but featured four players from the United States and two from both Sweden and Finland.
There was also a heavy Edmonton Oilers influence on the NHL All-Star team. Wayne Gretzky centred his usual linemates, Jari Kurri and Esa Tikkanen, while Glenn Anderson played alongside Mario Lemieux and Mark Messier with Dale Hawerchuk. Grant Fuhr started in net for the NHL All-Stars while Paul Coffey missed the series because of an injury.

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The NHL All-Stars edged out the Soviets by a score of 4-3 in the first game with goals from Kurri and Anderson. The U.S.S.R. came back and won the second game by a score of 5-3, technically winning the two-game series on aggregate.
Soviet coach Viktor Tikhonov said afterwards that it was “two of the greatest hockey games that you’ll ever see” and that “the NHL didn’t win and neither did we, the person that won was hockey itself.”
Gretzky led the series in scoring with four points and was awarded a car as the NHL All-Star Team’s MVP. He said after the game that he had never experienced such a high pace and suggested that the NHL should consider doing more international events.
The NHL All-Star game has only once had an international flavour to it since Rendez-vous in 1987. The 2002 All-Star Game in Los Angeles saw Team North America play against Team World right ahead of the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
There’s been a noticeable lack of international hockey at the highest level over the past few years. The last time there was a best-on-best international tournament was when the NHL hosted the World Cup of Hockey in 2016 and the last time NHL players participated at the Olympics was at the Sochi Games in 2014.
It would be interesting for the NHL to consider adding an international element to the All-Star Game. The three-on-three tournament with teams from each of the four divisions has been an improvement on the standard 60-minute scrimmage but having players represent their countries would be an exciting twist.

How many days are left until the Edmonton Oilers start the 2023-24 season? 87! Can you guess who will be featured in tomorrow’s countdown?

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