The Stanley Cup is overflowing with tradition and history. Here's everything you need to know about it.
Why is the Stanley Cup the most venerated trophy in sports?
Respect for elders. The trophy, then called the Challenge Cup, first was awarded in 1893 to the amateur champion of Canada. It became the unofficial NHL championship trophy in 1926 and the official trophy in 1947.
The Lombardi Trophy ( Super Bowl) first was awarded in 1967, with its name changed to honor the late coach in 1970; The Commissioner's Trophy (World Series) first was awarded in 1967; The Walter Brown Trophy ( NBA title) — the Larry O'Brien Trophy since 1984 — began its life in 1949; and the Jules Rimet Trophy, now the FIFA World Cup Trophy, in 1930. The original Rimet trophy was stolen in 1983 and hasn't been found.
You mean the Cup wasn't named for Stanley Mikita after 1961, when he became one of the last group of Hawks to hoist the trophy?
Nope. It actually was named for Frederick Arthur Stanley, a governor general of Canada, better known by his British peerage name, Lord Stanley of Preston. He paid $50 in London for what had been a sterling silver punch bowl.
Punch Bowl? It looks like a tiered wedding cake with a champagne goblet where the bride and groom should be.
A replica of the Challenge Cup punch bowl sits on top. (The original stays at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto). The bands below, known as barrel rings, contain the names of players and officials of every winning team.
If the Blackhawks win, do they get a Cup for keeps?
No. Unlike the other major U.S. sports, the winner does not get an official version of the trophy.
Who gets to have his or her name engraved?
Up to 55 persons per team. For players, there is an unwritten rule requiring the person to have played at least half the regular season or one game in the finals.
Does anyone run spell check on the engraver's work?
Belatedly. Over the years, many names have been misspelled, including that of the Hawks' Pete Palangio, whose name appeared twice on the list for 1938, once without the ``n,'' once correctly. Legendary Canadiens' goalie Jacques Plante had his name spelled differently each of the five straight years (1956 through 1960) he won the Cup. Only a few corrections have been made.
There are 2,163 men's and women's names on the Cup. Whose name is repeated the most?
Among players, the top three are all Canadiens, topped by Henri ``The Pocket Rocket'' Richard with 11. Among coaches, it's nine-timer Scotty Bowman, now a Hawks' senior advisor of hockey operations. The Canadiens' Jean Beliveau is listed 17 times —10 as a player, 7 as a team official.
A. There are 12 — four from the family of Red Wings' owner Mike Ilitch, none from the Hawks.
Aren't there some cool traditions associated with the Cup?
Several. One is having each member of the winning team, beginning with the captain, skate the Cup around the rink where it is won. Another is the white-gloved handlers, ``The Keepers of the Cup,'' who accompany the 35-pound, 3-foot trophy everywhere. The best tradition, begun in 1995, allows each player to keep the Cup for 24 hours and show it off in his hometown.
All those travels must take a while, now that teams have players from Europe and North America, and the Cup also goes on frequent promotional and charitable trips during the rest of the year. Is there an empty display case at the Hall of Fame during that time?
No. There is a replica on display. When not on the road, the real — or "presentation'' — Cup gets a pedestal at the Hall of Fame and the replica gets time off.
How can you tell one from the other?
The quickest way is to look for the 1983-84 Edmonton Oilers. The team owner, Peter Pocklington, had the name of his father, Basil, put on the trophy, even though Basil had no role on the team. The NHL covered Basil Pocklington's name on the presentation Cup with 16 X's.
Let's go back to the Cup-for-a-Day idea. I bet it must have some stories to tell.
It sure does, and they began 105 years ago when it spent a night in Ottawa's Rideau Canal after members of the Ottawa Silver Sevens decided to see if one of them could drop kick it into the drink. Eighty-six years later, it wound up at the bottom of Pittsburgh captain Mario Lemieux's swimming pool during another very liquid team celebration. The last time it took up residence in Chicago, a disgruntled Canadiens fan stole it from a display case in the Chicago Stadium lobby before being nabbed by police at an exit. Blackhawks TV commentator Eddie Olczyk, then a New York Ranger, took it to Belmont Park in 1994, when he let Derby winner Go for the Gin eat from it. Mark Messier brought it to strip clubs in Edmonton (1987) and New York (1994). The Rangers' antics led the NHL to have a full-time hall monitor for the Cup in 1995.
How about some merely picturesque rather than picaresque tales?
In 1996, Colorado defenseman Sylvain Lefebvre had his daughter, Alexanne, christened in the Cup. An Avalanche VP gave the Cup a Rocky Mountain High by toting it in a backpack to the 14,433-foot summit of Colorado's Mount Elbert. It went to Afghanistan in 2007 and 2008 on morale-building visits for Canadian troops. It has toured Canada's Northern Territories, traveling on a dogsled for one jaunt.
If they call it the Holy Grail, why is it treated like part of an everyday dinner service?
The venerable prize really has become the People's Cup, especially to Canadians. That makes the Stanley Cup even more special.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun