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The Stanley Cup is the trophy awarded to the winning team of the National Hockey League. Hockey fans are known to proudly call it the hardest trophy to win in professional sports. While that claim is difficult to prove scientifically, given that the winning team generally has to play at least 98 hockey games (82 regular season and a minimum of 16 post-season games, assuming a full post-season sweep - which is highly unlikely), it's certainly not an easy trophy to win.
The Cup itself is named for Lord Frederick Stanley, who was instrumental in organizing Canadian hockey, and has been through a lot of incredible stories, especially for a trophy. This is in no large part due to the unofficial tradition of each member of the winning team getting a day to spend with the trophy (most will simply take it to their hometown for photo-ops at local schools). It's shared a bed with countless players, been set on fire, gone clubbing with Mark Messier, been used to baptize infants, attended pool parties with the winning team (the trophy, it turns out, does not float), marched in a gay pride parade, and been lost on the side of the road. It was also attacked by Taliban grenades in 2007 while visiting Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan. The damage it's sustained is fairly significant; Multiple dings and dents from being kicked into a frozen river, bar-hopping with players, and incidents players are presumably too embarrassed to discuss with the press.
Of note is, unlike other major sports trophies where a single trophy is given to the winning team permanently to flaunt around and display (good examples are the Lombardi Trophy of the Super Bowl and the Larry O'Brien Trophy of the NBA), there is only one Stanley Cup. Okay, technically there's three of them (see below), but the authenticated trophy is one-of-a-kind, passed down from champion to champion of each season (and gets bigger in the process, at least until 1991). While the Cup usually remains at the Hockey Hall of Fame unless it is being used for promotional purposes, it is handed to the winners at the deciding game.
The Boston Bruins are the current Stanley Cup champions.
- The Montreal Canadiens have won the trophy 24 times, more than any other team. They haven't won it since 1993, a team record. Neither has any Canadian team, much to pretty much the entire country's chagrin. Some fans call it the Curse of Marty McSorley. (though there's nothing remotely approaching solidarity among Canadian hockey fans; they only want a Canadian team to win as long as it's their team).
- An interesting thing to note is that the curse seems to be reversed when it comes to the Olympic Games, in that which Canada national team has won Olympic gold in 2002 and 2010, while the USA has not won gold since 1980. Especially considering that when Canada won both those gold medals, both finals were against the USA.
- The Toronto Maple Leafs have gone since 1967 without winning the trophy, much to the chagrin of their passionate fanbase. The Chicago Blackhawks ended a 49-year dry spell in 2010, and in 1994, the New York Rangers ended a 54-year wait with a dramatic Game 7 victory over the Vancouver Canucks.
- The Detroit Red Wings are the most storied American team in the NHL as they have won the Stanley Cup 11 times. Their most recent championship was in 2008.
- The Philadelphia Flyers were the first expansion team to win the Stanley Cup, doing so in 1974 (they repeated the following year).
- Thirteen of the NHL's 30 teams have never won the trophy, with the Los Angeles Kings and St. Louis Blues being the oldest of that bunch (both were founded in 1967-68, which means they're tied with Toronto for longest current drought). Six of them have never made it to the Finals (Winnipeg/Phoenix, San Jose, Nashville, Atlanta/Winnipeg, Minnesota, and Columbus. )
- Five teams have won the Stanley Cup after moving to new cities; the Calgary Flames (formerly the Atlanta Flames), the Colorado Avalanche (formerly the Quebec Nordiques), the New Jersey Devils (see below), the Dallas Stars (formerly the Minnesota North Stars), and the Carolina Hurricanes (formerly the Hartford Whalers).
- The New Jersey Devils are the only team, amongst the relocated teams, to have won the Stanley Cup after moving to new cities TWICE (originally the Kansas City Scouts, then the Colorado Rockies).
- There are three actual Cups: the original bowl (retired in 1970), the authenticated cup that is actually presented at the games (and updated accordingly), and a replica stand-in that is at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto when the authenticated Cup is out of town and up to no good.
- The names of the winning team are engraved into the cup. Once it is filled, the top band of the Cup is removed and a new one is replaced at the bottom, preventing it from growing any longer.
- As it currently stands, the trophy is 90 cm (35 inches) tall and weighs over 15 kilograms (34 pounds). That's more than twice as tall and three times as heavy as the World Cup.
- There are typos in the engravings, only a handful of which have been corrected. Jacques Plante's engraved name is misspelled five times. Plante, if you're not familiar with NHL stars of the 1950s, is considered one of the best goalies ever.
- Frank Selke won the cup as Assistant Manager for the Maple Leafs. He is credited as "F.J. Selke (Ass Man)"
- Awesome Moment of Crowning: Well, it is a trophy...
- Badass: The Cup itself, given how much it's survived.
- Badass Beard: In the playoffs the players usually grow a playoff beard which means they don't shave until they get eliminated or win the Cup, thus regularly a badass beard can be beheld on the Cup-winning team.
- Canada, Eh?: If there's a Canadian team in the finals, it's the most important thing in the country, even to people who don't watch hockey.
- And when the finals are between two Canadian teams (therefore guaranteeing that a Canadian team will win the cup), expect the entire country to grind to a halt. (This has not happened since 1989).
- Crowning Moment of Awesome: When your favourite team/player wins it, and skates across the ice carrying it aloft.
- Crowning Moment of Heartwarming: Countless examples, frequently accompanied by a sudden inability to articulate feelings
- Ray Bourque's final game of his 21-year NHL career was the game he won the Stanley Cup in 2001 for the first time might be one of the best.
- Made all the more heartwarming via Joe Sakic's Crowning Moment of Awesome; the Captain of the winning team is the first player to receive the Cup and does a celebratory lap of the rink with the Cup. Sakic was the Avalanche captain at the time (and had been since 1992, when they were still the Quebec Nordiques), but immediately passed it to Bourque.
- Similarly, Wayne Gretzky passed it on to Steve Smith after winning the cup in 1987. The year before, Smith was responsible for probably the biggest blunder in hockey history when he accidentally banked a pass from behind the teams net off the goalie into the net which would ultimately lead to the Edmonton Oilers being eliminated by the Calgary Flames.
- The 1998 champions, the Detroit Red Wings, had won the cup after two of their teammates had been in a limousine accident before the season started. One of those players, Vladimir Konstantinov, sustained brain injuries and was still in a wheelchair the night the Wings won the cup. He was wheeled onto the ice and after team captain Steve Yzerman was presented with the cup, he immediately handed it to Konstantinov. The players then wheeled Konstantinov for the traditional skate around the ice.
- The 2007 champion Anaheim Ducks won their first cup, but the moment rested on the Niedermayer Brothers, Scott and Rob. Back in 2003 Scott played for the New Jersey Devils and faced his little brother Rob and the Mighty Ducks (as the team was known at the time) in the Stanley Cup Finals. The Mighty Ducks lost and Rob had to watch his big brother lift Lord Stanley's Cup for a third time. In 2005, Scott joined Anaheim as a free agent and together, the Niedermayer Brothers won the 2007 Stanley Cup. Scott lifted up his fourth career Cup and then handed his little brother his first Cup.
- When the Chicago Blackhawks won it in 2010 for the first time since 1961, former Blackhawks player Jeremy Roenick was in the announcer's booth and was unable to hold back tears as Chicago was celebrating, as he was on the team the last time the Hawks played for the Cup in 1992 and was unsuccessful. He mentioned a child who he'd seen crying in the stands at the old Chicago Stadium after the Hawks had lost the last game of the finals and said that he hoped that the child was watching now and had a big smile on his face.
- Grail in the Garbage: It was used as a flower pot once. The Montreal Wanderers (the 1906 champions) had their photo taken at a studio--and forgot the trophy at the studio. Weeks later, officials learned that the photographer's mother was using it to plant geraniums.
- Hilarity Ensues: It's tradition that each player of the winning team gets to spend some time with the Cup. While some of them do classy things like bringing it to their home town and such, other players take it out for a night of partying or other shenanigans, occasionally losing the damn thing. There's a reason the description above says the replica is for when the real cup is "up to no good."
- Iconic Item: Arguably the most recognizable trophy in professional sports.
- Mundane Utility: More than once the Cup has been used as a bowl for various foods and/or snacks.
- Took a Level In Badass: The winning team. Sometimes key players.
Appearances in Media
- Boston Legal: The Cup (though likely a prop) appeared in an episode. William Shatner knocked it off a balcony.
- Thirty Rock: Dennis Duffy got to carry it around after becoming "The Subway Hero." It was credited As Itself.
Cerie: What's that?
Dennis: It's hockey's ultimate prize, sweetheart. And me and it are teaming up to fight illiteracy.
- And later
Dennis: "...and the Ducks are mad at me for leaving the Stanley Cup on a water taxi!"
- The Simpsons: Homer and Ned somehow get their hands on it after a blackout bender in Las Vegas.
- A couch gag has the Simpson family skating around their living room and celebrating with The Cup, along with Maggie sitting inside the bowl.
- Corner Gas: Used as a prop by (then) Anaheim Ducks forward Travis Moen. Takes a ride in the passenger seat of a car while Moen gets pulled over for various reasons.
- ↑ Some of these stories apply to the original, others apply to the newer one, and others to both
- ↑ the Original Six were the Canadiens, Maple Leafs, Bruins, Red Wings, Blackhawks, and Rangers; the Flyers, St. Louis Blues, Los Angeles Kings, California Golden Seals, Minnesota North Stars and Pittsburgh Penguins entered in the same year
- ↑ To be fair, five of these teams arrived in the '90s or later.