The Stanley Cup is the trophy awarded to the winning team of the National Hockey League
's end-of-season playoffs. Hockey
fans are known to proudly call it the hardest trophy to win in professional sports. While that claim is difficult to prove scientifically, given that the winning team generally has to play at least 98 hockey games (82 regular season and a minimum of 16 post-season games, assuming a full post-season sweep - which is highly unlikely), it's certainly not an easy
trophy to win.
The Cup itself is named for Lord Frederick Stanley (later the 16th Earl of Derby
), the Governor-General of Canada
who was instrumental in organizing Canadian hockey and donated the original Cup in 1892. Originally a silver punch bowl made in Sheffield
and purchased for ten guineas
(on the order of $1200-$1300 in today's dollarsnote
), the trophy has been through a lot of incredible stories, especially for a trophynote
. This is in no large part due to the unofficial tradition of each member of the winning team getting a day to spend with the trophy (most will simply take it to their hometown for photo-ops at local schools). It's shared a bed with countless players, been set on fire, gone clubbing with Mark Messier, been used to baptize infants, attended pool parties with the winning team (the trophy, it turns out, does not float), marched in a gay pride parade, and been lost on the side of the road
. It was also attacked by Taliban grenades in 2007 while visiting Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan. The damage it's sustained is fairly significant; Multiple dings and dents from being kicked into a frozen river, bar-hopping with players, and incidents players are presumably too embarrassed to discuss with the press
Of note is, unlike other major sports trophies where a single trophy is given to the winning team permanently
to flaunt around and display (good examples are the Lombardi Trophy of the Super Bowl
and the Larry O'Brien Trophy of the NBA), there is only one
Stanley Cup. Okay, technically there's three of them (see below), but the authenticated trophy is one-of-a-kind, passed down from champion to champion of each season (and gets bigger in the process, at least until 1991). While the Cup usually remains at the Hockey Hall of Fame unless it is being used for promotional purposes, it is handed to the winners at the deciding game.
The Chicago Blackhawks are the current Stanley Cup champions, having won their second Cup in four years by defeating the Boston Bruins in six gamesnote
- The Montreal Canadiens have won the trophy 24 times, more than any other team. They haven't won it since 1993, a team record. Neither has any Canadian team, much to pretty much the entire country's chagrin (though there's nothing remotely approaching solidarity among Canadian hockey fans; they only want a Canadian team to win as long as it's their team).
- Some fans call it the Curse of Marty McSorley.
- An interesting thing to note is that the curse seems to be reversed when it comes to the Olympic Games, in that which Canada national team has won Olympic gold in 2002 and 2010, while the USA has not won gold since 1980. Especially considering that when Canada won both those gold medals, both finals were against the USA.
- The Toronto Maple Leafs have gone since 1967 without winning the trophy, much to the chagrin of their passionate fanbase.
- Including the Leafs, three of the Original Six had long dry spells after the 1967 expansion:
- The Chicago Blackhawks ended a 49-year dry spell (begun 1961) in 2010.
- The New York Rangers ended a 54-year wait (begun 1940) in 1994 with a dramatic Game 7 victory over the Vancouver Canucks.
- The Detroit Red Wings ended a 42-year wait (begun 1955) in 1997 by sweeping the Philadelphia Flyers. They followed up by sweeping the Washington Capitals in 1998 and haven't looked back since.
- The Montreal Canadiens have won the cup the most times, with 24. Their first was in 1916 and their most recent was in 1993. The Maple Leafs have won the second most with 13 and the Detroit Red Wings are third with 11 (see below)
- The Detroit Red Wings are the most storied American team in the NHL as they have won the Stanley Cup 11 times. Their most recent championship was in 2008.
- The Philadelphia Flyers were the first expansion teamnote to win the Stanley Cup, doing so in 1974 (they repeated the following year).
- Twelve of the NHL's 30 teams have never won the trophy, with the St. Louis Blues being the oldest of that bunch (founded in 1967-68, which means they're tied with Toronto for longest current drought). Six of them have never made it to the Finals (Winnipeg/Phoenix, San Jose, Nashville, Atlanta/Winnipeg, Minnesota, and Columbus. note )
- Five teams have won the Stanley Cup after moving to new cities; the Calgary Flames (formerly the Atlanta Flames), the Colorado Avalanche (formerly the Quebec Nordiques), the New Jersey Devils (see below), the Dallas Stars (formerly the Minnesota North Stars), and the Carolina Hurricanes (formerly the Hartford Whalers).
- The New Jersey Devils are the only team, amongst the relocated teams, to have won the Stanley Cup after moving to new cities TWICE (originally the Kansas City Scouts, then the Colorado Rockies).
- The 2004 Tampa Bay Lightning are the southern-most team to win the Cup. Other teams from warm cities also won: Dallas Stars (1999), Carolina Hurricanes (2006), Anaheim Ducks (2007)note and Los Angeles Kings (2012, ending 45 years of waiting the title since the team inception).
- The Chicago Blackhawks are the first (and so far only) team to have won the Cup twice since the institution of the league's salary cap.
- There are three actual Cups: the original bowl (retired in 1970), the authenticated cup that is actually presented at the games (and updated accordingly), and a replica stand-in that is at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto when the authenticated Cup is out of town and up to no good.
- The names of the winning team are engraved into the cup. Once it is filled, the top band of the Cup is removed and a new one is replaced at the bottom, preventing it from growing any longer. As seen below, it's already enormous.
- As it currently stands, the trophy is 90 cm (35 inches) tall and weighs over 15 kilograms (34 pounds). That's more than twice as tall and three times as heavy as the World Cup.
- There are typos in the engravings, only a handful of which have been corrected. Jacques Plante's engraved name is misspelled five times, such as "Jac", "Jacq", and "Jaques". Plante, if you're not familiar with NHL stars of the 1950s, is considered one of the best goalies ever.
- Also, when the Boston Bruins won the 1972 Cup, it was spelled "Bqstqn". When the New York Islanders won the cup in 1981, it was spelled "Ilanders".
- Frank Selke won the cup as Assistant Manager for the Maple Leafs in 1945. He is credited as "F.J. Selke (Ass Man)". The team was later misspelled "Maple Leaes" when it won the 1963 Cup, actually one of the last times the Leafs won the trophy.
- One name on the Cup is crossed out. Oilers owner Peter Pocklington had his father's name placed on the Cup as well as his own when the Oilers won. The NHL, not amused (there's little enough space on the cup as it is), had the name covered with "XXXXXX". Pocklington insisted that it was an error on the engraver's part, mistaking a list of people to receive miniature replica Cups with the list of team names. Incidentally, this is the main visible difference between the presentation Cup and the Hall of Fame's replica Cup: the replica simply leaves the spot where Basil Pocklington's name was engraved blank, instead of replicating the engraving and then X-ing over it.
- Awesome Moment of Crowning: Well, it is a trophy...
- And the Adventure Continues: It's The globe-trotting trophy. It's been almost everywhere, and it's going back out on another round of adventures for the next championship team.
- Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: When the cup is being toured around by the winning team, expect this reaction from the locals as they drop everything to have a glimpse of the cup. Best evidenced by one player taking it to a strip club, with it getting more attention than the dancers.
- Bad Ass: The Cup itself, given how much it's survived.
- Badass Beard: In the playoffs the players usually grow a playoff beard which means they don't shave until they get eliminated or win the Cup, thus regularly a badass beard can be beheld on the Cup-winning team.
- Canada, Eh?: If there's a Canadian team in the finals, it's the most important thing in the country, even to people who don't watch hockey.
- Crowning Moment Of Awesome: When your favourite team/player wins it, and skates across the ice carrying it aloft.
- Crowning Moment of Heartwarming: Countless examples, frequently accompanied by a sudden inability to articulate feelings
- Ray Bourque's final game of his 21-year NHL career was the game he won the Stanley Cup in 2001 for the first time might be one of the best. Made all the more heartwarming via Joe Sakic's Crowning Moment Of Awesome; the Captain of the winning team is the first player to receive the Cup and does a celebratory lap of the rink with the Cup. Sakic was the Avalanche captain at the time (and had been since 1992, when they were still the Quebec Nordiques), but immediately passed it to Bourque. Gary Thorne's call of the moment is one of the most memorable in NHL history.
- Similarly, Wayne Gretzky passed it on to Steve Smith after winning the cup in 1987. The year before, Smith was responsible for probably the biggest blunder in hockey history when he accidentally banked a pass from behind the teams net off the goalie into the net which would ultimately lead to the Edmonton Oilers being eliminated by the Calgary Flames.
- The 1998 champions, the Detroit Red Wings, had won the Cup after two of their teammates had been in a limousine accident only six days after their Cup victory the year before. One of those players, Vladimir Konstantinov, sustained brain injuries and was still in a wheelchair the night the Wings won the Cup; the Wings had played the whole 1997-98 season wearing patches with Konstantinov's initials (and also those of the team masseur—also Russian—who was injured in the same accident) and the word "Believe" in English and Russian. He was wheeled onto the ice and after team captain Steve Yzerman was presented with the Cup, he immediately handed it to Konstantinov. The players then wheeled Konstantinov for the traditional skate around the ice. Though Konstantinov's career-ending injury obviously prevented him from playing in the 1998 season, the Red Wings still considered him a player on their team and successfully petitioned to have his name engraved on the Cup for the 1998 championship. While normally only active players for the winning team have can have their names on the Cup, the NHL allows case-by-case exemptions when a player is unavailable due to "extenuating circumstances".
- The 2007 champion Anaheim Ducks won their first cup, but the moment rested on the Niedermayer Brothers, Scott and Rob. Back in 2003 Scott played for the New Jersey Devils and faced his little brother Rob and the Mighty Ducks (as the team was known at the time) in the Stanley Cup Finals. The Mighty Ducks lost and Rob had to watch his big brother lift Lord Stanley's Cup for a third time. In 2005, Scott joined Anaheim as a free agent and together, the Niedermayer Brothers won the 2007 Stanley Cup. Scott lifted up his fourth career Cup and then handed his little brother his first Cup.
- When the Chicago Blackhawks won it in 2010 for the first time since 1961, former Blackhawks player Jeremy Roenick was in the announcer's booth and was unable to hold back tears as Chicago was celebrating, as he was on the team the last time the Hawks played for the Cup in 1992 and was unsuccessful. He mentioned a child who he'd seen crying in the stands at the old Chicago Stadium after the Hawks had lost the last game of the finals and said that he hoped that the child was watching now and had a big smile on his face. Another heartwarming moment occurred down on the ice. Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews was the first to hoist the Cup, as is traditional, and the first player he handed it off to was Marian Hossa. Hossa had bounced around the league the past few years, spending three years with the Atlanta Thrashers before ending up with the Pittsburgh Penguins, who lost to the Red Wings in the 2008 Cup Finals. Hossa then moved to the Red Wings, who proceeded to lose the Cup Finals the next year in a rematch against the Penguins. Finally, Hossa became a Blackhawk and had his moment to hoist the Cup. The microphones on the ice could even pick up Toews asking "Where's Hoss? Where's Hoss?" (not noticing that Hossa was actually standing right next to him) before giving him the Cup.
- Grail in the Garbage: It was used as a flower pot once. The Montreal Wanderers (the 1906 champions) had their photo taken at a studio—and forgot the trophy at the studio. Weeks later, officials learned that the photographer's mother was using it to plant geraniums.
- He Who Must Not Be Touched: NHL players, without a single exception, will refrain from even touching the Cup until they win it. Their first actual contact will be when they hoist it over their heads after the last game of the Cup finals.
- This applies even more to the Prince of Wales trophy and the Campbell Bowl, the trophies awarded for the Eastern and Western Conference champions. Often, the conference champions will never touch these trophies even after they are presented them to show that The Cup is they one they want. If a team wins it on home ice, expect the fans to voice the same opinion during the presentation with "WE WANT THE CUP!!!"
- Hilarity Ensues: It's tradition that each player of the winning team gets to spend some time with the Cup. While some of them do classy things like bringing it to their home town and such, other players take it out for a night of partying or other shenanigans, occasionally losing the damn thing. There's a reason the description above says the replica is for when the real cup is "up to no good."
- Iconic Item: Arguably the most recognizable trophy in professional sports.
- Major Injury Underreaction: Final series in sports tend to bring out the hero in injured players, but Bob Baun may be the Ur-example. In 1964, he played half of Game Six, and all of Game Seven, of the Stanley Cup final on a broken ankle. I bet it didn't hurt a bit as he skated around holding the Cup over his head.
- While not a major injury, the laceration to the face of the Blackhawks' Andrew Shaw stands out amongst the most memorable sights of the 2013 finals. After initially getting stitched up and returning to the ice, the ref had to keep sending him back to the bench repeatedly because it just wouldn't stop bleeding. He skated his lap with the cup with the cut still dripping and nobody could have cared less. Over the summer he would raise almost $20,000 for charity by auctioning off his stitches.
- Mundane Utility: More than once the Cup has been used as a bowl for various foods and/or snacks. Including dog food.
- To say nothing of its regular use as a vessel for the victorious team's celebratory champagne.
- After the New York Rangers won the Cup in 1940 & paid off the Madison Square Garden mortgage shortly thereafter, the team owners burned the mortgage papers within the Cup. Many placed this sacrilege as the cause of the "Curse of 1940", in which the Rangers would not win the Cup again for more than 50 years.
- And after the Rangers finally broke the alleged curse in 1994, several players took it to Belmont Park, filled it with oats, and let that year's Kentucky Derby winner Go for Gin eat out of it.
- At least once has a player's kid been placed in the bowl for a photo, only to have been found having used it as a potty.
- Took a Level in Badass: The winning team. Sometimes key players.
Appearances in Media
- Boston Legal: The Cup (though likely a prop) appeared in an episode. Denny Crane (William Shatner) knocked it off a balcony. This was after attempting to engrave his own name into it alongside the 1970 Bruins - he claims to have loaned Bobby Orr his lucky jock strap for that Cup-winning game.
- 30 Rock: Dennis Duffy got to carry it around after becoming "The Subway Hero." It was credited As Itself.
Cerie: What's that?
Dennis: It's hockey's ultimate prize, sweetheart. And me and it are teaming up to fight illiteracy.
Dennis: "...and the Ducks are mad at me for leaving the Stanley Cup on a water taxi!"
- The Simpsons: In the episode "Viva Ned Flanders", Homer and Ned somehow get their hands on it after a blackout bender in Las Vegas.
- A couch gag has the Simpson family skating around their living room and celebrating with The Cup, along with Maggie sitting inside the bowl.
- In "The Last Temptation of Krust", Krusty drinks from the Cup going on a late night bender and then vomits.
- Corner Gas: Used as a prop by (then) Anaheim Ducks forward Travis Moen. Takes a ride in the passenger seat of a car while Moen gets pulled over for various reasons.
- A Gretzky Has the Ball joke in Peanuts had Rerun, a new recruit to Charlie Brown's baseball team, convinced they were playing in the finals of the Stanley Cup.