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The Stanley Cup: A brief history

The author with the Stanley Cup at the Carolina Coliseum in 2006
The author with the Stanley Cup at the Carolina Coliseum in 2006
from ther author's collection

With the Stanley Cup Finals underway this week, it gives rise to the question, what is the Stanley Cup? The short answer is that it goes to the winner of the National Hockey League playoffs but the history is a little more involved than that.

First of all, the cup predates the NHL. The first cup was presented in 1893. The first NHL winner wasn't until 1926. The cup was originally donated by Frederick Arthur Stanley, Lord Stanley of Preston , Governor-General of Canada and son of the Earl of Derby. He purchased it for the equivalent of $50 to be presented to the “championship hockey club of the Dominion of Canada.” The first winner of the Stanley Cup was the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association. Starting in 1926, the cup has been won exclusively by the best team in the NHL.

The cup is unusual in that it is the only championship trophy that lists the name of every person on the winning team. This is why the cup is so tall. It has several rings listing the teams that have won the cup most recently. Some of the older rings have been retired and reside, along with the original cup, in the Verizon Great Hall of the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. Currently, the cup stands 35 1/4 inches and weights 34 1/2 pounds.

In 2006, the Stanley Cup visited Columbia and was on exhibit at a Columbia Inferno game at the Carolina Coliseum. I can personally testify to the weight of the Stanley Cup and, since then, I marvel at the winning team as they skate around the ice carrying it overhead.

Oh, by the way, theLos Angeles Kings beat the New York Rangers3.2 in overtime of game one of the finals on June 4. Game 2 is on tonight, Saturday, June 15 on NBC (Time Warner channel 3) at 8 p.m.

Click here for a complete list of Stanley Cup winners.

Source: Hockey Hall of Fame

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