Often referred to as the Holy Grail in the popular media, the Stanley Cup, also called ‘La Coupe Stanley’ in its native French is the championship awarded for hockey in the NHL. In other words, you can also tell the Stanley Cup is the trophy that is awarded annually by the National Hockey League (NHL) to the winners of the favorite ice hockey game. Thus, the championship is popularly also known as the Stanley Cup. The 2019 winners were St Louis Blues making their first in history.
History of Stanley Cup
In North America, the Stanley Cup is the oldest surviving championship trophy awarded annually to the winner. The NHL and IIHF of the ice hockey federation established this cup in 1893. It was commissioned soon after 1892 as the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup and later named after Lord Stanley of Preston, who was the Governor-General of Canada. The first cup was awarded to Montreal Hockey Club in 1893 and since then the tradition has been maintained faithfully without a break, except during the World Wars.
Originally the winners used to keep the cup for a year, but since 1924 they get to keep the cup only for a select number of days during the season before which it is returned to the office. Unlike the other trophies, a new cup is not made each year, and the same trophy has been used since. This is also partly the reason it is called ‘The Cup’ or more funnily ‘Lord Stanley’s Mug’.
Even though it started in 1893, it was established as the ‘De Facto’ hockey championship of the NHL only in 1926, and then onwards the ‘De Jure’ NHL championship starting from 1946. Between 1893 and 1914 the winners were determined by challenge games and the hockey organizations. This meant that professional’s teams had to first qualify and become eligible to challenge for the Stanley Cup. Only in 1915, a mutual agreement was reached that champions would reach and face each other on an annual basis regardless of anything. That is, to keep the trophy for the next year, the winner had to win it again.
The 10 Interesting Facts
- The cup has been won a combined number of 103 times till this date. This has been made by 20 teams including 5 defunct teams by this date. It must be remembered that this pattern was introduced only in 1915 before a challenge was made without which the trophy remained with the winner.
- The trophy was not awarded only in 1919 during the Spanish Flu and then in 2005 because of the 2004-2005 NHL lockout. Other than these events, the cup has been awarded continuously since its inception centuries ago. This makes it the oldest surviving championship trophy even though 5 of its winning teams have since been dysfunctional.
- If anyone that has won this trophy the maximum number of times, it would be Montreal Canadians. They made it 24 times and also are the most recent Canadian-based team to win it. Though the recent win was made in 1993, after which they have not made anymore.
- Besides, the Stanley Cup’s interesting facts, teams have also made histories outside Canada. The US-based team that has won it the maximum number of times would be Detroit Red Wings. They have done so 11 times with their most recent win logged in 2008, more recent than Canadians.
- Many don’t know that the Stanley Cup is not made again and again each year as with most other games. It is the same one being used for such a long time. However, there is not just one cup since 1893, there are three of them. When it all started the original cup or bowl was the ‘Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup’, which was the first Stanley Cup and the original one. The second one was the ‘Presentation Cup’, and then a spelling-corrected cup was made that was the ‘Permanent Cup’ being used to this day.
- When Lord Preston was appointed by Queen Victoria as the Governor-General of Canada on June 11 of 1888, he and his family became greatly enthusiastic about ice hockey. After being introduced to it in the Winter Carnival of Montreal he decided to make something of it and take it from its infancy to what it is today.
- The decorative punch bowl was purchased by Stanley from a silver expert John Culme, who called it the rose bowl. It was made in Sheffield, England, and sold by London Silversmith for the price of ten guineas that is equal to 10.5 pounds sterling. With inflation in 2019 price, it accounts for only a modest more than $1000 US.
- The original bowl isn’t used anymore, though it was made of silver. It was small, around 7.8 inches tall but 11 inches wide. Thus making it more of a bowl or cup, hence the name Lord Stanley’s Mug. Currently, though, the Stanley Cup is topped with the original silver bowl, as can be seen from the pictures. This makes it 35 inches in height and weighing more than 15 kilograms.
- Before the annual game agreement, the cup was automatically awarded to the previous year’s winners. There was no need for more championship challenges unless a challenger was presented who was eligible and then qualified to challenge the winners. There was a long list of criteria to be fulfilled to be eligible without which one couldn’t challenge. For example, the challengers should only be from the senior hockey associations or a league couldn’t challenge for the Cup twice in a season and many more.
- Finally, the names of the teams, coaches, and management staff of the winning teams are permanently engraved on the cup, and banners are added and removed to maintain the height. The oldest banner that is at the bottom is removed, and a new one is added when the time comes. This is something that was never heard of or will be in the future if we were to guess.