The 1983 Memorial Cup was held May 7–14 at the Memorial Coliseum in Portland, Oregon. It was the 65th annual Memorial Cup competition and determined the major junior ice hockey champion of the Canadian Hockey League (CHL). Participating teams were the host team Portland Winter Hawks along with the Oshawa Generals, Verdun Juniors and Lethbridge Broncos who had won the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) and Western Hockey League (WHL) championships respectively. Portland won their first Memorial Cup, defeating Oshawa in the final game.
1983 was the first time the Memorial Cup tournament featured four teams; it had previously involved three teams playing in a neutral host city since the round robin tournament format was adopted in 1972. The Winter Hawks were the first team to host the tournament, and the first to both participate and win the title despite failing to capture their league championship; they were eliminated by Lethbridge in the WHL finals. The Winter Hawks were also the first American team to win the Memorial Cup.
Since the adoption of the round robin tournament format in 1972, the Memorial Cup tournament had been held in a pre-selected, and often neutral, host city. Beginning in 1983, the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association chose to make the tournament a four team affair with a host team guaranteed to participate. The Portland Winter Hawks, who won the WHL championship in 1981–82, were chosen before the season to host the 1983 tournament. It was the first time Memorial Cup games were held outside of Canada, though Winter Hawks General Manager Brian Shaw had proposed the tournament return to its original east vs. west format.
Portland nearly won the WHL's President's Cup again in 1983, but lost in the finals to the Lethbridge Broncos who earned a trip to the tournament as the WHL champions. The Oshawa Generals won the J. Ross Robertson Cup as OHL champions by defeating the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds while the Verdun Juniors defeated the Trois-Rivières Draveurs to win the QMJHL's President's Cup.
The tournament was held as a single round-robin format, with the top team earning a place in the final, and the second and third place teams playing a semi-final. Oshawa opened the tournament with an 8–2 victory over Lethbridge on the strength of three goals in six minutes in the third period. In the second game, Portland held a 7–2 lead over Verdun after two periods, but surrendered four goals in the third, managing to hold on for a 7–6 victory. Verdun then defeated Lethbridge 4–3, eliminating the Broncos from the playoff round. Portland routed Oshawa 10–5 before losing to the Broncos in a game that had no impact on either team's future in the tournament. Oshawa defeated Verdun 5–1 in the final game of the round robin.
While all three teams had 2–1 records, the Generals and Juniors met again in the semi finals, while the Winter Hawks advanced to the final on the basis of most goals scored. Verdun emerged from the first period with a 4–1 lead but were unable to hold off the Oshawa attack, falling 7–5 in the semi-final. The final was never in doubt, as the hometown Winter Hawks defeated Oshawa 8–3 on the strength of three goals by Cam Neely. In doing so, they became the first American team to win Canada's national junior championship.
The tournament was success at the gate. The championship game drew 9,527 fans for a tournament total of 54,090; second only to the 1977 Memorial Cup held in Vancouver.
Round-robinMay 7 Oshawa 8–2 Lethbridge
May 7 Portland 7–6 Verdun
May 8 Verdun 4–3 Lethbridge
May 8 Portland 10–5 Oshawa
May 9 Lethbridge 9–3 Portland
May 10 Oshawa 5–1 Verdun
Semi-finalMay 12 Oshawa 7–5 Verdun
FinalMay 14 Portland 8–3 Oshawa
Goaltender Mike Vernon was the subject of controversy during the tournament. While he was a player for the Calgary Wranglers, he joined the Winter Hawks for the Memorial Cup tournament via a rule that allowed each team to add an extra goaltender from their league. Vernon turned down Lethbridge before agreeing to play with Portland, a decision that infuriated the Broncos who had lost their starting goaltender, Ken Wregget, to injury.
Several players from the Winter Hawks went on to play in the National Hockey League (NHL). Cam Neely played 13 seasons and was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2005. Vernon won the Stanley Cup with both the Calgary Flames and Detroit Red Wings during his career. As did Oshawa's John MacLean with the New Jersey Devils. The Sutter twins, Rich and Ron played for the Broncos, as did Mark Tinordi and Gerald Diduck. Also from Lethbridge, both Wregget and Troy Loney won the Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Curt Brandolini, Bruno Campese, Brian Curran, Brad Duggan, Ray Ferraro, Terry Jones, Randy Heath, Grey Holomay, Kelly Hubbard, John Kordic, Derek Laxdal, Tim Lorenz, Cam Neely, Richard Kromm, Jim Playfair, Ray Podloski, Grant Sasser, Alfie Turcotte, Mike Vernon, Bryan Walker, Gord Walker, Ian Wood, Ken Yaremchuk. Coach: Ken HodgeStafford Smythe Memorial Trophy (MVP): Alfie Turcotte, Portland
George Parsons Trophy (Sportsmanship): David Gans, Oshawa
Hap Emms Memorial Trophy (Goaltender): Mike Vernon, Portland
All-star teamGoal: Peter Sidorkiewicz, Oshawa
Defence: Joe Cirella, Oshawa; Jerome Carrier, Verdun
Centre: Ken Yaremchuk, Portland
Left wing: Randy Heath, Portland
Right wing: John MacLean, Oshawa