In North America, there are four major professional sports: football, basketball, baseball, and hockey. And at the end of each sport’s season, there is always one team that stands above all the rest as champions. In the NFL, the ultimate prize is the Vince Lombardi Trophy; in MLB, it is the World Series’ Commissioner's Trophy; in the NBA, it is the Larry O’Brien trophy; and in the NHL, each team strives to win the Stanley Cup. There are many who would argue that their favorite sport’s championship trophy is the hardest one to win, but based on the format of the NHL’s regular and postseason schedules, and the intense physicality involved in the games, especially in the playoffs, there is no doubt that the Stanley Cup is in fact the hardest trophy in all of sports to win.
The Stanley Cup is unique in that those who win it are forever immortalized upon its rings, a feat which is essentially the dream of every kid who plays hockey. In order to get to that point, though, a team needs to successfully make the postseason after a rigorous 82-game regular season, and then that same team needs to win a total of 16 playoff games over the course of 4 elimination rounds. With the 2016-17 season about to start in a few weeks, it seems only fitting that hockey fans, and sports fans in general, learn about some of the things that truly make the Stanley Cup special.
Here is a list of 15 things people may not have known about the Stanley Cup.
15 It’s Been To Afghanistan
It should come as little surprise that the Stanley Cup has been to places like Russia and Sweden, seeing as those are legitimate hockey markets, but in 2007, the cup set foot in Afghanistan, a country that literally cares nothing about the game. With that being the case though, the Stanley Cup did not go their to try and promote the game to the country’s populace, it was in fact there for the same reason why the WWE and many comedians went overseas: to help support and motivate the troops fighting in the war at the time. The Cup was brought to Camp Nathan Smith in Kandahar, an active war zone, to lift the spirits of the Canadian soldiers stationed there, which makes a lot of sense seeing as hockey means so much to so many Canadians.
14 It’s Been Used in Religious Ceremonies
In basically every religion, there is a ceremony to welcome a baby into the arms of God, with the most common of these ceremonies being known as a baptism, which requires a vessel to hold the water that the baby is placed into. Normally, the church in which the baptism is held, comes with its own type of vessel, but on two occasions, the Stanley Cup was used as the vessel. The first time came after Colorado won the cup in 1996, when Avalanche defenseman Sylvain Lefebvre had his daughter baptised in the cup’s bowl, and the second came after the Detroit Red Wings won the cup in 2008, when forward Tomas Holmstrom took the cup to Sweden so his cousin could baptise his daughter in it. When you look at it, the Stanley Cup is actually well suited for such an event, which makes it a bit surprising that only two players have ever thought about baptising a child in it.
13 It Has Its Own Personal Chaperone
When you hear the word chaperone, you would usually associate it with either one or more teachers, or one or more parents who attend school trips and dances in order to help keep an eye on the students, There are instances though, when inanimate objects are also assigned their own personal chaperone, something that is only really done for things that are extremely rare and/or valuable; both of which can be used to describe the Stanley Cup. Whenever the cup is on the road, it is always accompanied by the “Keeper of the Cup” who is a Hockey Hall of Fame representative who makes sure nothing bad happens to the championship trophy. From the time that the Stanley Cup was first awarded, there have also always been two designated trustees who keep the cup safe by controlling every aspect of its schedule.
12 Each Team Wins The Same Cup
At the end of every major professional sports league’s postseason, a trophy is always awarded to the one team who managed to win their league’s championship, and in the case of football, basketball, and baseball, there is always a new trophy made every year. In hockey and the NHL though, every team who wins the Stanley Cup, wins and hoists the same cup that all the previous winners did before them, making it the one trophy in all of professional sports which is not replicated on an annual basis. Since there is only one Stanley Cup awarded to teams, the names of all the winning team’s players, coaches, staff, and management are all engraved onto rings so that their accomplishment and victory can be looked upon and acknowledged forever.
11 There Are Actually Three Stanley Cups
Granted, I did say in the last entry that there is only one Stanley Cup, which is awarded to the last team standing at the end of the NHL’s postseason, which is true, but what many more people may not know, is that there are in fact three Stanley Cups. The original Stanley Cup was first awarded in 1892, and continued to be awarded until 1970 when the actual cup part was replaced with the “Presentation Cup,” which is the trophy still handed out today. Since the original cup was deemed to have become too brittle to be awarded anymore, it was moved to the Vault Room of the Hockey Hall of Fame where it continues to remain on display. The Hall of Fame is also where the Presentation Cup resides, but whenever it has to go on the road, it is replaced by an exact replica for visitors to look at.
10 Each Of Its Rings Are Detachable
As mentioned two entries ago, the Stanley Cup comes with a set of rings upon which the names of everyone directly involved with the championship winning team are engraved, and since the 1952 season, there has always been five rings around the cup’s base to perform the engravings on. After a certain amount of time, each ring gets filled with names, and once the lowest ring is full, the highest ring is removed in order to make way for a new blank ring; and this detached ring is then moved to the Vault Room of the Hockey Hall of Fame. As a result of this method, the current Stanley Cup awarded to players no longer physically contains the names of the championship winning teams between the 1928-29 and 1953-54 seasons.
9 Players Did Not Always Get A Day With It
Whenever we see a team win their respective league’s championship title, we see just how important the win is for the players during their celebration, and just how emotionally devastating it can be for the players on the losing side. It is understandable why players would get emotional when they become champions, seeing as they put in months of intense work and effort towards winning the ultimate prize, but the NHL does something that none of the other leagues do, they allow each player from the winning team to truly enjoy their achievement by letting them have the cup for a full day. This was a tradition that actually started in 1995, when the New Jersey Devils decided to give each player a day with the cup; but before that, every team would simply be allowed to possess the cup for a total of 100 days during the off-season.
8 Women Also Have Their Names On The Cup
The NHL actually shares a common thread with the NFL, NBA, and MLB, in that when you look on the bench or out on the field, you do not see a single woman with the team unless they are a cheerleader. Even with that being the case though, there have been prominent women involved with NHL teams, so involved that there are in fact several women who have had their names engraved on the Stanley Cup. In total, there are twelve women with their names on the cup, with the two most well known being Marguerite Norris, who was the first woman to have her name engraved, as she served as president of the Detroit Red Wings during the 1954-55 season; and the second being Sonia Scurfield who is the only Canadian woman on the cup, as she was the co-owner of the Calgary Flames when they won in 1989.
7 There Is A Superstition About The Cup
There are superstitions throughout sports, as some players will always either do certain things or avoid doing something very specific because they believe the action will provide their team with either good or bad luck during the actual game. Of all the major North American sports, baseball is the one most associated with superstition, as it is a game that highly depends on luck and probability; but NHL players are also superstitious, except they do not tend to show it until deep into the playoffs, and especially if they have never won the Stanley Cup before. In order to get to the Stanley Cup Final, teams must first win their respective conferences, and when they do, the Eastern Conference champs are awarded the Prince of Wales Trophy, while the Western Conference has the Campbell Bowl. The players from these Conference Champion teams tend to not touch those trophies, because they believe doing so would jinx their chances of winning the Stanley Cup, the only trophy they really care about getting their hands on.
6 It Has Gone Swimming More Than Once
For the past two decades, each player on every championship team gets a full day with the Stanley Cup, and most of the time a player will spend his day sharing his accomplishment with the residents of his childhood community. Some players even use it for special events, like the baptisms mentioned earlier, but many players also decide to simply throw a party in honor of the gleaming trophy’s presence. On three different occasions, the cup attended a house party and ended up going for a swim in a pool, with the first occasion happening in 1991 at Mario Lemieux’s house, when forward Phil Bourque wanted to see if the Cup could float. The cup found itself at the bottom of the pool again in 1993 at Patrick Roy’s house after Montreal won it, and again in 2002 when Dominik Hasek of the Red Wings swam with it; but by then the cup’s chaperone had had enough, and since then it has not made its way back to the bottom of anyone’s pool.
5 Its Original Owner
The Stanley Cup did not always belong to the NHL, and North America was in fact not its birthplace either, as it was actually made in London and served as a simple decorative cup before being turned into a trophy in 1892. Lord Stanley of Preston served as Canada’s Governor General between 1886 and 1893, but prior to that appointment, he bought the cup in London for about 50$. In 1889, Stanley and his family became fans of the game of hockey because of the small tournament played during the Winter Carnival in Montreal, and it was because of this new found appreciation for the sport that he donated the cup to be awarded to Canada’s top amateur team. It is because of this huge gift to the game of hockey, that Lord Stanley was a part of the original group of individuals inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1945.
4 The Montreal Canadiens Left It Behind
The Montreal Canadiens are the most storied and successful franchise in all of hockey, with their 24 Stanley Cup victories being the most in NHL history, and because of their success, they are also seen as the most professional hockey team in the league. As professional as the franchise may be though, they are still guilty of actually leaving the Stanley Cup by the side of the road after winning it in 1924. As it turns out, when the team was on their way to the owner’s home for a celebratory banquet, the truck they were traveling in got a flat tire, and in order to get the spare tire out of the trunk, they had to remove the Stanley Cup which was also in there. They placed the cup by the side of the road and switched the tires, but they forgot to place the cup back into the trunk before driving off. It was only when it came time for the player’s to drink champagne out of the cup that they realized where it was, and drove back to get it. Luckily, no one had taken it.
3 It Was Kicked Into A Canal
The Ottawa Senators may have only actually started playing NHL games in 1992, but even though the current franchise has not won a Stanley Cup, the city of Ottawa has in fact won the cup multiple times. 1905 was one of the years that Ottawa won the cup, and during the team’s celebratory banquet, the players got very very drunk, and decided to go out on a little adventure with the cup. The story goes like this, as the players walked along the Rideau Canal, someone had the bright idea to see which one of them could successfully kick the cup into the canal. One of them did in fact accomplish this, but because they were so drunk, they simply walked away and forgot all about the cup; but the following morning when they all came to their senses and realized that the cup was gone, they retrieved it from the canal and gave it to the most responsible member of their team to keep it safe.
2 A Fan Tried To Steal It
Hardcore sports fans can sometimes be obnoxiously loud and annoying when it comes to their favorite team, and in terms of hockey, the Montreal Canadiens may indeed have the best fans, but that does not mean they are free from having some truly unlikeable ones. Montreal fans are incredibly obsessed with winning the Stanley Cup, but in 1962, this obsession went completely overboard when one Canadiens’ fan actually tried to steal the Stanley Cup while it was on display in the arena of the Chicago Blackhawks who were that year’s defending champions. Ken Kilander was this fan’s name, and he nearly actually walked out with the cup before being stopped, and when police questioned him, he told them, “I want to take it back where it belongs, to Montreal.”
1 It Has Multiple Spelling Errors
It has been mentioned several times on this list already that the rings which make up the base of the Stanley Cup contain the engraved names of everyone who contributed to each championship winning team’s victory. What many may not know about these engravings though, is that not every name on the cup is spelled correctly, which is incredible considering that the engravings are such an important part of the Stanley Cup’s mystique and uniqueness. For example, the 1980-81 New York Islanders is spelled as llanders, and the 1971-72 Boston Bruins are spelled as Bqstqn Bruins; even player names are sometimes misspelled like Adam Deadmarsh whose last name was spelled Deadmarch. These mistakes for the most part remain unchanged, as they actually help to add a special uniqueness to the cup; that, and it would cost the league too much money to re-engrave everything.
Leave A Comment
Looking for an AD FREE EXPERIENCE on TheSportster?Get Your Free Access Now!