Players on the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks hockey teams both have one image in that keeps them battling through this year's Stanley Cup Finals: Lifting that iconic trophy overhead as they skate a victory lap around the rink.
No other sport's championship trophy is as steeped in history or is as loved by its players (and fans). The Cup itself has been through quite a lot since Governor General of Canada, the Lord Stanley of Preston donated it in 1892.
Standing just over 35 inches and weighing almost 35 pounds, the Stanley Cup makes quite an impression when presented. But it wasn't always so hefty. Lord Stanley originally donated just a 7 inch by 12 inch silver bowl. But, because tradition calls for the etching the names of the winning team's players, coaches and staff to the trophy, additional bands were added to the base over the years.
Today, the trophy has stopped growing as the top band on the trophy is replaced with a new blank band on the bottom when more space is required. The replaced band is placed in the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto for display.
Some quick facts about all of those engraved names:
- There are currently 2,163 names on the Cup
- The player with the most appearances is Henri Richard with 11, while Scotty Bowman's name appears 9 times as a coach.
- Jean Béliveau's name appears the most times total: He won the Cup 10 times as a player and seven times while working in management.
- A dozen women's names are engraved as owners or staff of winning teams. Marguerite Norris, president of the Detroit Red Wings, was the first woman on the Cup in 1954.
- Surprisingly, there are several misspellings including team and player names. The Islanders and Leafs had their team names spelled wrong while Boston appears as "Bqstqn" for its 1972 victory.
- One name is actually X'd out. Edmonton Oilers' owner Peter Pockington had his father's name, Basil Pockington, added in 1984. Only after the inscription was made did league call foul, as Basil had no official team role.
One of the traditions of the Stanley Cup is that the winning team gets access to it for 100 days after the final game. Each player and staff person gets to spend a day with the Cup, however they like. If only the Cup could talk, it would tell some wild tales from the past nine decades.
Here are just a few of its infamous adventures:
- In 1905, the Ottawa Silver Seven wanted to see if they could kick the Cup across Ottawa's Rideau Canal. It made it halfway there but luckily the water was frozen and the Cup spent the night on ice until more sober players retrieved it in the morning.
- During the 1962 playoffs in Chicago, Ken Kilander, a Montreal fan, was frustrated that his Canadiens were not going to advance. So, he snuck up to the Cup on display in the lobby, quietly removed it from its glass case and got as far as the front door before he was stopped by security. When the judge asked him where he was going to take the Cup, he proudly told him, "Back to Montreal, where it belongs."
- In 1964, Red Kelly of the Toronto Maple Leafs put his infant son in the Cup for a photo, only to have him urinate in it. Not to be outdone, Kris Draper of the 2008 champion Red Wings, posed with his baby girl who left a, er, solid deposit in the Cup. He cleaned up her mess and claimed he drank out of the Cup that same day.
- In 1991, 1993 and 1999, the Cup went swimming during pool parties at players' homes.
- The Cup has visited several Continents, has been to the White House and the Kremlin and has even appeared in TV episodes and movies.
- In 1994, the NHL created a chaperone for the Cup to try to keep it safe during player visits and also to travel with it around the world. Phil Pritchard, current curator of the Hockey Hall of Fame, has also become well known as the Keeper of the Cup, appearing in TV commercials and at presentations with his infamous white gloves.
- According to Pritchard, the Cup’s bowl can hold 14 cans of beer — something he's learned first-hand from being at a few too many player parties.
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Dan Peterson writes about sports and science at Sports Are 80 Percent Mental.
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