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The Stanley Cup

Charter a Private Jet to the The Stanley Cup

The Stanley Cup, the trophy awarded to each year’s National Hockey League champion, is too big to put on a mantel.

At 35 pounds, it would be like hoisting a toddler up on a small shelf.

And so, the yard tall trophy is hoisted for other things.

Like to get a drink of champagne.

Or to be a baptismal font.

Or to be filled with ice cream and toppings.

It’s been chucked into a swimming pool and punted onto a frozen lake.

It’s the oldest and most revered trophy in professional sports.

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Stanley Cup Q&As

The Stanley Cup

How did it get its start?

In 1892, Sir Frederick Arthur Stanley, then Governor General of Canada, donated the trophy, a bowl for punch or roses he bought from a silversmith for $48.67 (about $1,300 in today’s dollars), to be presented to Canada's top-ranking amateur team.

While hockey had been picking up fans since first being played in 1875, Stanley and his children became avid fans after watching a game at the 1889 Montreal Winter Carnival.

The first Stanley Cup, then called the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup, was presented in 1893 with the condition it be returned in good order so it could be presented to the next year’s winner.

How Did the Name Rings Come About?

While the Cup has undergone changes over the years, one thing remains unchanged – at Lord Stanley’s insistence: the name of the championship team and the year are engraved on a silver ring on the Cup.

That tradition has morphed into having the names of the team’s players, coaches, owners and other front-office employees also engraved on Cup rings. There are more than 2,000 names engraved on the five rings on the Stanley Cup. A new ring is added every 13 years to make room for more names and the oldest ring removed and placed in Lord Stanley’s Vault at the Great Esso Hall in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

The original trophy was retired in 1962 but since then there has only been one other trophy. It is made of silver and nickel, topped with a copy of the original bowl, weighs almost 35 pounds and stands more than 35 inches tall.

Where Is It Kept?

Stanley Cup winners hold onto the trophy for one year. After all the names are engraved on its rings, every person gets to spend 24 hours with the Cup. They can take it anywhere as long as they take its chaperones, too. They are provided by the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Why Does It Need Chaperones?

Lord Stanley said two trustees must be appointed to make sure the Cup remains in good condition. What he didn’t mandate was 24-hour care.

That came about in 1994.

Although he denies it happened, Ed Olczyk of the New York Rangers was said to have fed a horse out of the Cup at the Belmont Stakes. Olczyk said he took it to the track but never fed a horse out of it. Regardless, after that incident, the National Hockey League hired handlers to stay with the Cup at all times.

They Did What With It?

Long before Ed Olczyk supposedly fed a horse eat out of the Cup in 1994, players were doing all sorts of things with the trophy that Lord Stanley would probably not like. Among them are:

  • Drinking from the Cup: Since 1895, when the Winnipeg Victorias started the drinking-out-of-the-Cup tradition, it has been filled with everything from champagne to bathwater.
  • Punting it: The Ottawa Silver Seven took the Cup out drinking with them in 1905. On the way home, someone thought it was a good idea to see if they could kick it across the Rideau Canal. It wasn’t until the Cup, which, at the time, was really just a cup, was punted that the team realized the canal was wider than they thought. The lucky thing is the canal was frozen and they were able to retrieve the trophy the next morning.
  • Using it as a baptismal font: Sylvain Lefebvre of the Colorado Avalanche baptized his first child in the Stanley Cup in 1996.
  • Eating ice cream out of it: Doug Weight of the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006 made a crowd-sized sundae in the cup, filling it with gallons of ice cream, chocolate sauce, marshmallows and M&Ms.
  • Taking it to a strip club: Edmonton Oiler Mark Messier, whose team won the Stanley Cup six times in 10 years (1984-1994), took the Cup along with him to his favorite Edmonton strip club in 1987 and set it on stage with one of the dancers. (The next year, whatever he did dented the Cup and he took it to an automotive repair shop to be fixed.)
  • Using it as a pool float: Phil Bourque of the Pittsburgh Penguins took the Cup to a pool party in 1991 – and jumped in with it. He came to the surface but the Cup didn’t. During either the plunge or the retrieval, a piece of the Cup broke off. It was held on with duct tape until it could be repaired.