• As sports trophies go, nothing’s as cool as the Stanley Cup

    No matter which teams play for it, the Stanley Cup is the coolest sports trophy around. Let’s take a look at the cup’s long history.

    It all started back in 1892, when Frederick Arthur Stanley bought a bowl-shaped trophy for about $50. Britain’s Queen Victoria had appointed Lord Stanley governor general of Canada. His children liked to play hockey. The trophy was to be “presented to the champion hockey team in the Dominion of Canada.”

    At first, the winner of the cup usually was decided by a series of challenge games played among amateur hockey teams from Canada. The Montreal Wanderers in 1907 were the first professional team to win the cup.

    After the founding of the National Hockey League (NHL) in 1917, an NHL team has won the cup in every year except one. The Victoria Cougars, a pro team from the Western Canada Hockey League, won the cup in 1925. Now only NHL teams can compete for the cup.

    Through the years, the importance of the Stanley Cup and the trophy itself has grown. That small silver bowl from 1892 is now perched on three small bands, a collar and five large bands that make up the base of the trophy. The Stanley Cup is almost three feet high and weighs about 35 pounds.

    That’s because the annual tradition of inscribing the name of each player from the winning team on the cup was started in 1924. That’s right, if your team wins the cup, your name goes on one of the big bands at the bottom of the trophy. The Stanley Cup is the only professional team sports trophy that puts the players names right on the trophy.

    Henri Richard, who played for the Montreal Canadiens from 1955 to 1975, holds the record for most times having his name on the cup. Richard’s name has been inscribed an incredible 11 times on the trophy.

    When the five big bands at the bottom of the cup are filled with names — each band can fit about 13 teams’ worth of names — a band is removed and sent to the Hockey Hall of Fame. (Names from 1954-1965 are set to be removed this fall.) A new empty band is put on the trophy to make room for new names.

    There’s one other tradition that makes the cup super cool. In 1995, the New Jersey Devils won the cup and started the tradition that each winning player is allowed to spend 24 hours with the cup. The Hockey Hall of Fame sends a representative — called the keeper of the cup — along to make sure nothing too bad happens to the trophy.

    At least three babies have been baptized in the cup — including one just last year. As far as I know, none of them have been named Stanley.

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