The 1996 US World Cup of Hockey team has been just named to the American Hockey Hall of Fame. The New York Islanders had a number of players at the tournament, but none played for Team USA, well we kinda did, but not really.
The World Cup of Hockey is back this year, after a twelve-year hiatus. It feels great to have best-on-best hockey that isn’t the Olympics. Seemingly in nod to the rebirth of this tournament, the 1996 US World Cup of Hockey team is being inducted into the US Hall of Fame this year.
The ’96 team will receive the honor along with Bill Belisle Head Coach at Mount Saint Charles Academy and Craig Janney. (Who was an Islander in the 1998-99 season).
The US team is being honored with induction to the Hall of Fame for winning the inaugural World Cup of Hockey in emphatic fashion. The team lost once in the entire tournament. It was a 4-3 overtime loss to Team Canada in the best-of-three final.
And the New York Islanders didn’t have a single of its players on the American roster. We actually didn’t have a player in either roster for the finals between Canada and the US. None. We had eight players at the tournament but not one in the big two.
It’s not that we didn’t have any good American or even Canadian players on the roster between the 1995-96 and 1996-97 seasons.
Travis Green, a native of Castlegar, BC had a 70 point season in 1995-96. Defenceman Mathieu Schnieder, from good ol’ New York, New York, had a 47 point season that same year.
But Travis wasn’t selected for team Canada, outranked on the team by players like Mark Messier, Brett Lindros, and Joe Sakic, just to name a few. All Hall of Fame centers.
Mathieu Schneider actually was on the American team! But was traded by our favorite GM Mike Milbury to the Toronto Maple Leafs in a blockbuster trade that gave us three players and a first-round draft pick; which turned into Roberto Luongo.
We also had Brian Smolinski. But we didn’t actually sign him until November of 1996. He was holding out from negotiations with Pittsburgh and we gave up Andreas Johansson and Darius Kaspiritus in order to acquire his rights.
So we had players that we’re on that Hall of Fame roster, and we had them either months before the tournament or months after the tournament. But that’s really as good as it got for us when it came to that roster.
Which makes sense when you consider the New York Islanders finished the 1995-96 season ranked 24th out of the 26 team with 54 points. Only the young franchises named the Ottawa Senators and the San Jose Sharks, who had been in the league three and four years respectively.
Congrats to the ’96 US Team. They were te first and only American team to win the tournament both as the World Cup of Hockey and as it was originally known as the Canada Cup. We wish we could have been a part of it.