There are plenty of championships in the world of sports that matter to the individuals competing for that hardware. Whether it’s a gold medal at the Olympics, the Balon d’Or, or the Superbowl trophy made by Tiffany–any piece of metal designed to denote the ultimate victory should be appreciated. Sweat, blood, tears, and effort are poured out to succeed in sports, and only one person or team can be rewarded at the end of a competition or season. Still, amongst all these different means to denote victory, one trophy stands above all the rest.
Lord Stanley’s Cup is the single best trophy in all of the sports. From the youngest age possible, hockey players all know that the Cup is the only thing that matters. Where other sports tout individual achievement or value the skills on display, hockey fans, players, and franchises, only care about one thing, and that’s bringing home the Stanley Cup. The toughest athletes in sports break down in tears when they win OR lose the NHL finals. The Stanley cup represents everything they’ve worked for, and there is no higher honor to have your team name engraved alongside all the other legendary teams already on it. The history of the cup is arguably what makes it such a special trophy.
Sir Frederick Arthur Stanley, Lord Stanley of Preston and son of the 14th Earl of Derby, is the progenitor for the cup. At the time of its creation in 1892, the cup cost ten guineas, equivalent to 50ish dollars at the time (that equates to $1,479.0 in 2021). Lord Stanely created the cup to bestow upon the champion hockey team in the dominion of Canada. The initial cup was just a bowl, sized at 7.28 inches tall and 11.42 inches in diameter. As more and more names have been added to the venerable trophy, adjustments to its size have been made. When commissioner Bettman presents the trophy at the end of each season to the victorious team captain, he’s handing over a trophy 32.5 inches high and weighing in at 34.5 pounds.
The trophy was initially awarded to the winner of the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association. The first winners of the cup were the Montreal Hockey Club, who came in first for their season–there wasn’t a playoff to declare a league champion. The Montreal Wanderers were the first professional team to win the cup in 1907. In 1910, the Cup found its way to the National Hockey Association, the precursor to the NHL. In 1917, the first U.S. team to win the Cup was the Seattle Metropolitans, and the following year the NHL was founded. For about a decade, the cup jumped around leagues until 1926, when the NHL staked its claim as the sole owner of the cup.
The Trophy is made up of a nickel/alloy combination, but theirs an intangible element to the Cup’s mystique. If it were just metal, it would be like any other trophy around. The spirit of every team that’s lifted the award imbues the cup with gravity all of it’s own. Each player of the victorious team gets to spend one day with the cup only adds to the unique atmosphere the Cup exudes. Doubtless, the Stanley Cup stands unique even amongst its fellow championship trophies.