What is professional hockey without honouring its stars?
Since its inception 93 years ago, the NHL has doled out a cache of hardware to its top athletes. Lord Stanley’s Cup is the top honour but it wasn’t an NHL exclusive until 1926.
The accolade named for Frederick Arthur Stanley, 16th Earl of Derby and Canada’s sixth Governor General, started in 1892 when he purchased the trophy made of silver for 10 guineas in Sheffield, England. Then he gave the award to Canada’s top hockey team, the first being Montreal AAA.
The first team to engrave their roster on the cup was the Montreal Wanderers in 1906. In 1909, professional teams vied for the cup via the National Hockey Association, the Pacific Coast Hockey League and the Western Hockey League.
Seattle Metropolitans were the first American team to win.
The Montreal Canadiens have won it the most often with 24 cups.
Toronto Maple Leafs are second, winning the Stanley Cup 13 times.
It is the oldest sporting trophy in North America — and the only one with the names of winners engraved on it.
It is also the only one — anywhere — that each victor spends a day with. On that note, in the past five years the Stanley Cup has logged just under 644,000 kilometres, traveling to Sweden, Russia, Japan, Finland, Czech Republic and the Bahamas.
Montreal Canadiens legend Jean Beliveau has his name on it the most with 17 times (10 as a player, seven in management). Henri Richard has won it the most as a player with 11.
Though it may be a symbol for NHL perfection, ironically it’s far from immaculate as it’s rife with engraving errors.
Colorado Avalanche member Adam Deadmarsh has his name misspelled Deadmarch while Jacques Plante has had his name engraved five different ways when he won the Cup from 1956 to 1960.
More notables are the New York Islanders lacking an S in 1980-81 and Peter Pocklington’s dad, Basil Pocklington, having his name crossed out.
There have only ever been four official engravers of the cup. For the past 17 years Louise St. Jacques has wielded the hammer and letter presses. Before her it was Doug Boffey for 25 years. Arno Peterson and his father Carl before that. Doug Boffey’s father Eric was the first official engraver as well as the official supplier for the NHL.
So if your name is spelled wrong on the greatest prize, you know who to blame.
Sponsored by The Canadian Experience and Maple Leaf Sports + Entertainment, “Canada’s Hockey Experience: The Sport of a Country” is a unique, 20-week online series on the history of hockey.