A History of the Stanley Cup

The story of the Stanley Cup begins in 1892. Lord Stanley of Preston, who at the time was serving as Governor General of Canada, purchased a silver bowl measuring 7�½ inches high and 11�½ inches across. This was the first ever Stanley Cup.

It was the idea of Lord Stanley to create a prize for the championship hockey team of Canada. Ownership of the cup, however, would remain in the hands of hockey authorities and it would not become the property of any individual team. Each year a competition would be held and the Cup would be passed on to the new year’s winners.

The first championship competition was held in 1893. The very first winner of the Stanley Cup was the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association (AAA) hockey club. Thus began the long line of tradition that has today become the most anticipated competition in hockey.

Ironically enough Lord Stanley himself never attended one of the Cup championships nor presided in the awarding of the Cup that bears his name. In the middle of the 1893 season Lord Stanley left his position as Governor General to Canada and returned to his homeland of England. Nevertheless his name has been immortalized in one of the world’s most prestigious sports trophies.

In its earliest years the Stanley Cup championship competition was the arena of amateur hockey teams. As the 19th century turned into the 20th century, however, professional hockey began to boom. In 1910 it was decided that the Stanley Cup would become a prize for professional hockey contenders when the Cup came into the possession of the National Hockey Association.

This was a time when many professional hockey leagues were forming and vying for competition to become the top league in North America. It was not until 1926 that the National Hockey League (NHL) became the clear leader in the field and were granted ownership of the Stanley Cup. The Stanley Cup playoffs have been for the last 80 years one of the strongest NHL traditions.

By far the clear champions in the history of the Stanley Cup are the Montreal Canadiens, who have won the Cup a record 23 times. (They also won in the Stanley Cup in 1916, prior to its being passed on to the NHL). Their closest competitors are the Toronto Maple Leafs who have only 13 wins under their belt.

Besides changing ownership a number of times before finally coming into the possession of the National Hockey League, the Stanley Cup itself has also undergone many changes. One of the original conditions upon which Lord Stanley donated the Cup was that the winning club’s name and year be engraved into a silver ring fitted around the Cup. Tradition today holds that every member of the team also be engraved on the award on a special silver band placed at the bottom of the Cup.

With so much added to the Cup each year it is not surprising that some necessary alterations have been made. The original Cup itself is no longer in use and rests in the MCI Great Hall. Each year as new teams are added new bands are put onto the Cup. Older bands with the engravings of the winning team members are retired and rest in the MCI Great Hall with the original Stanley Cup.

The history of the Stanley Cup shows just how powerful this championship trophy is, one of the most sought after in modern sports. Competition for the silver cup is just as strong today as it was when it was first introduced by Lord Stanley of Preston in 1892.

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