In my humble opinion, the Stanley Cup Playoffs is the most exciting postseason in sports.
The thrill, anxiety, agony, joy … and that’s just regulation. Multiply that by 100 if it goes to overtime. Then multiply that by 1,000 if one of the teams playing is your team.
Here is another “IMHO,” and I’m sure many of you agree: The Stanley Cup is the prettiest trophy in all of sports. It’s actually not even close. The Cup is simply the best (better than all the rest … I couldn’t resist) and all other championship hardware is battling for second.
When the Cup made its way to Newark a few weeks ago as part of the Centennial Fan Arena, Mr. Devil Ken Daneyko (himself a three-time Stanley Cup winner) revealed something very interesting about his name(s) on Lord Stanley’s mug.
In 1995, he is listed as “Ken Daneyko.”
But in 2000 and 2003, things got a lot more formal wit him being listed as, “Kenneth S. Daneyko.”
This got me thinking about the history of the big silver bowl and the stories, intricacies, and nuances surrounding it.
In the spirit of the NHL playoffs, and another soon to be Stanley Cup champion, here are 10 random facts (that you may or may not have heard before) about the Stanley Cup:
1. THERE ARE A FEW (OK, A BUNCH) OF TYPOS ON THE CUP
Like Mr. Devil, many names of players and teams are listed differently. Some, like Dano’s, are by design (another example of this is Turk Broda, who is listed as Turk and Walter Broda on the Cup in different years). Some are engraved incorrectly … some names omitted or even incorrectly included. Some have been fixed, others remain. In at least one case, an error was fixed but later recreated. Moore on that later.
Here are some more famous typo’s (that have now become part of the identity of the Cup):
The 1971-1972 Stanley Cup winners were the … Bqstqn Bruins?
Jacques Plante may hold the record on various spellings of his name (right or wrong). The six-time Stanley Cup winner has his name engraved five different ways: J. Plante, Jac Plante, Jacq Plante, and Jaques Plante. Dickie Moore shares a similar fate.
The most famous “error” is that of Basil Pocklington, the father of Oilers team owner Peter Pocklington. On the 1983-84 Cup listing, Peter had his dad’s name included on the list to be etched: the thing is, Basil had nothing to do with the team. But there was Basil, on the same listing as Wayne, Moose, Kurri, Fuhr and the rest. Instead of creating the entire ring again, they crossed out Basil’s name with a row of x’s. The band did get replaced years later due to damage, and Basil’s name was omitted but by then Basil’s name and row of x’s had become so legendary that it was a actually put back in.
Your 1981 Stanley Cup champions were The New York “Ilanders.”
And I’ll just leave this one here for you to figure out yourself…
Here are some more errors and corrections (along with a ton of historical tidbits).
It’s easy to poke fun and for everyone to be the “spelling police,” but you can imagine engraving (rather, “stamping”) the Stanley Cup would be an immensely stressful job. Just ask the person who does it, Louise St. Jacques.
2. THE RINGS OF THE CUP ARE DETACHABLE
Ever wonder how all those names from every team, from every year, for over 120 years fits on the Cup? Well, the large rings on the Cup are actually detachable. When the Cup runs out of space, the oldest ring is removed and retired, then put on display at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. A fresh new ring is placed at the bottom, ready to be filled with new Stanley Cup winning teams and names for years to come. When that new ring is completely filled, the process repeats.
When your name is engraved on the Stanley Cup, it will stay on the trophy itself for 53 years. Then you have to head to the Hockey Hall of Fame to see your name on display in the Esso Great Hall.
3. THE CUP HAS HAD DIFFERENT LOOKS AND THERE IS MORE THAN ONE
There are actually three:
- The original 1893 version donated by Lord Stanley of Preston (also known as the “Dominion Challenge Cup”), which is on permanent display in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
- The authentic Stanley Cup.
- The replica Stanley Cup.
How can you tell the difference since the authentic and replica look identical? Two ways. Chances are if you are visiting the Hockey Hall of Fame in the summer, the “real” Cup is out somewhere in the world with a player or staff member of the team that won it, so the one you are seeing on display is the replica.
Another way to be sure is to look for Basil Pocklington’s x’d out name on the 1984 Oilers squad. If it’s there, that’s the real Cup. If it’s not, then you’re posing with the stunt double and you now have a cool trivia factoid to wow your friends or your date. Will that wow him or her? (If it does, if I were you I’d ask for a second date immediately).
The shape of the Cup has also changed. This describes it perfectly:
The “Stovepipe” design from 1932-1947 would grow each year as a band was added for the winning team’s engraved names. When the trophy for too long and cumbersome to hold, the design we know and love today was adopted.
4. THERE HAVE BEEN MULTIPLE CUP WINNERS IN ONE YEAR
We are all used to the Stanley Cup being won once a year by the team that wins the playoffs in the NHL. But in the early days, the format was much different, and at times included more than one league.
The Stanley Cup was originally donated by Lord Stanley of Preston to be awarded to the best amateur hockey club in Canada. Starting in 1906, professional teams were allowed to vie for the trophy and in 1908, the Stanley Cup became the symbol for professional hockey excellence with the Allan Cup introduced at the amateur level.
The Cup was first awarded in 1893, and back then it was called the “Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup.” Through the early years, leagues such as the Pacific Coast Hockey Association and the National Hockey Alliance would send their best teams to battle for it. The Cup then became the trophy NHL teams would exclusively battle for in 1927 and has remained that way ever since.
During the “Challenge” era (1893 – 1914), the Stanley Cup was defended mostly like a boxing championship. Challengers from other leagues would put in a formal request, a game or series would be agreed on, and the winner would take home the Cup. The other way you could win the Cup is, if the reigning Stanley Cup champ was in your league, you’d win it if you won the league that year.
This made for multiple winners in the same year, from challenges and league wins. For example, the Kenora Thistles and Montreal Wanderers were both Stanley Cup champions in 1907, while the Wanderers and Ottawa Senators held the Trophy in 1910.
Here’s a great timeline of the formative years of the Stanley Cup.
The current format of four 7-round series and 16 wins needed to hoist the Cup began in 1987. Since then, the Oilers have the record for least losses en route to a Cup victory (2 losses, 18 games total), and the Kings have the most (10 losses, 26 games total).
The Montreal Canadiens dynasty in the ’50s saw the team win five consecutive Stanley Cups and in that span lose only nine playoff games. In 1959-1960, they were perfect in the playoffs, not losing a single game to Chicago or Toronto.
What about players winning the Cup with multiple teams? Sure, there are a couple players to win the Stanley Cup in double digits (more on that later). But there are some random multiple Cup-winning player facts, like the following:
- Nine players in NHL history have played on three different Stanley Cup-winning franchises. The most was by Larry Hillman, winning six with Detroit, Montreal and Toronto.
- Other names like Al Arbour, Joe Nieuwendyk, Mike Keane and Claude Lemieux have hoisted the trophy in three different jerseys respectively.
- Only one player has done it in four different sweaters: Jack Marshall, in the turn of the century (I mean the 1900s).
Click here for more facts like these!
5. THERE WERE TWO YEARS WITHOUT A STANLEY CUP WINNER
There are two specific years where the Stanley Cup was not awarded and both are represented on the Cup:
- 1919 – When the Stanley Cup finals matchup between the Montreal Canadiens and the Seattle Metropolitans was halted after the fifth game (with the series tied at 2) due to the 1918 Flu Pandemic.
- 2005 – Due to the NHL lockout.
That second one still stings. *Cue single tear rolling down cheek slowly*
6. NAMES ON THE CUP: LIMITS, RULES AND SPECIAL EXCEPTIONS
Before 1925, no player names were engraved on the Stanley Cup (there are exceptions, like the 1907 Montreal Wanderers, with names found engraved in the bowl itself). From 1925-1997, adding names was sort of like the Wild West or the deep web … there were no formal rules.
Then, the Detroit Red Wings won the Stanley Cup in 1998, and 55 names got engraved on the trophy (two with very good reason, more on that in a minute). This prompted a limit to a number of names allowed on the mug per team per year to 52.
The official rule is that for a player to have their name engraved on the Stanley Cup, they must have played at least half the regular season (41 games) or one game in the Stanley Cup Finals for the Cup-winning team. Non-players must be officially linked to the club (sorry, Basil).
There are, of course, some exceptions. Teams can petition to have names engraved that they feel deserve to be there despite not meeting these requirements.
A famous example of this involves the Wings. After the 1997 Cup win, star defenseman Vladimir Konstantinov and team masseur Sergei Mnatsakanov were involved in a car crash that left Mnatsakanov paralyzed from the waist down and Konstantinov with life-threatening head injuries. After the Cup win in 1998, the team petitioned successfully to have both players’ names engraved on the Cup.
7. THE WOMEN OF HOCKEY WHO HAVE THEIR NAMES PROUDLY ENGRAVED
Though the Stanley Cup has been challenged exclusively by male hockey teams, the names engraved on the trophy include management and front office brass. There are at least 12 women to have their name on Lord Stanley’s Mug, including:
- Marguerite Norris, the first woman to have her name on the Cup, President of the Detroit Red Wings during their 1954-55 win.
- Sonia Scurfield, the first Canadian woman etched, co-owner of the Calgary Flames in 1989.
- Four female members of the Ilitch family for all of Detroit’s four most recent Cup victories.
- Marie Carnevale and Callie Smith with the New Jersey Devils in 2000.
8. WHEN WOULD THE PLAYERS HAVE TIME WITH THE TROPHY?
Throughout the decades, players would only really have access to the Stanley Cup on the time during the presentation or at a couple team parties after winning it. This still led to some epic stories involving the trophy.
The first team to officially have each player receive a full day with the Cup was the New Jersey Devils in 1995. The NHL/HHOF officially formalized a Stanley Cup system in the summer for players and decided that a “Keeper of The Cup” would be present for each day.
1995 is certainly not the first year that teams, even individuals had time with Lord Stanley’s Mug. The Canadiens in 1993 had ample time with it over the summer throughout the province of Quebec as part of the 100th anniversary of the Cup being awarded. Then, of course, there are all the stories of the Stanley Cup being kicked across rivers, left on top of bars and the side of the road. Which brings us to …
9. BETS, FOOD, BABIES AND RANDOM PLACES THE CUP HAS BEEN
This past year, Sidney Crosby brought Lord Stanley’s mug to his hometown Tim Hortons in Nova Scotia, where he would go as a kid (I’m assuming he tried to pay for his coffee with it but was denied).
Here’s an image of Ed Olczyk feeding a horse with the Cup!
In 1938, Chicago Blackhawks teammates Mike Karakas and Roger Jenkins made a bet: if the Hawks won the Cup, Jenkins would push Karakas in a wheelbarrow down State Street in Chi-Town. The day after they won the Cup, 1 p.m. to be exact, there was Karakas standing on the street, wheelbarrow beside him. Thousands of people were cheering them on as Jenkins gleefully transported his buddy down the busy street. By the way, this also happened in 1934, when Jenkins did the same thing with Charlie Gardiner.
The Cup has also been set on fire, sort of. When the Rangers won the Cup in 1940-41, it coincided with paying off their mortgage on Madison Square Garden. How does one celebrate paying off a mortgage? By lighting the mortgage papers on fire and putting them into the bowl of the Cup, of course! To some fans, this ignited a curse, which saw a Stanley Cup drought for the Blueshirts last until 1994.
Many players have slept beside the Stanley Cup. Mark Recchi, for example, after winning the Cup with the Hurricanes in 2006, brought it back to his hometown Kamloops, British Columbia. He promptly took a nap with the mug. I would probably do this exact same thing. His teammate that year, and current Islanders head coach Doug Weight, made a giant ice cream sundae for his family to enjoy.
One of the most iconic moments with the Stanley Cup is that of Ray Bourque — finally winning the Cup in his last year in the NHL with the Colorado Avalanche. We all remember the moment captain Joe Sakic passed the Cup to “Bubba.” On his day with the trophy, he brought it back to the city where he played pretty much his entire career, Boston. Bourque meant so much to that city that over 10,000 people came to see him and the Cup at City Hall Plaza.
One of the more remote places the Cup has been is Rankin Inlet, in the Canadian territory of Nunavut. The people there were so ecstatic that the iconic trophy was coming to town that it became a massive community event. That day in 2001, the Cup traveled from Florida to Rankin, which upon landing was at a mild -76 Fahrenheit (-60C).
The Cup has also been lifted in war zones, like Kandahar in Afghanistan.
10. WHAT APPEARS ON THE STANLEY CUP THE MOST?
The most words that appear most together on the Stanley Cup are “Montreal Canadiens,” as the Habs are 24-time champions. In fact, their Cup finals record is 24-9 (also the record for most appearances), the best win% (72.7%) of any team whose made it more than five times and fourth best overall. Only the Avalanche (2-0, 100%), the Islanders and Penguins (4-1, 80%) have a better win % in the Finals.
In terms of names, Henri Richard won 11 Stanley Cups, the most by any player. Jean Beliveau won 10 as a player but another seven in the front office, placing his name on the mug 17 times — more than any other human being. Scotty Bowman has 14: nine as coach (five with the Habs, one with the Pens, three with the Wings) and five in the front office (Wings in 2008, and as Senior Advisor to Hockey Operations to the Hawks in 2010, 2013, and 2015).