The man was Lord Stanley of Preston, the Governor General of Canada. The year was 1892 and Lord Stanley decided to buy a fancy decorative cup in London for the bawdy sum of ten guineas. That was the equivalent of about 50 bucks back then.
He had no idea at the time just how iconic his purchase would become. Soon after acquiring the cup Stanley donated his prize to award Canada's top amateur hockey team. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Well this weekend the Stanley Cup is turning 125 years old. And not everyone knows of the prestigious and somewhat strange history of the NHL's top yearly possession.
The following are some of the lesser known facts about the Stanley Cup and some of the situations it's been put into:
There have actually been three cups. The original was awarded until 1970 and was known as the "Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup", it then gave way to what is commonly referred to as the "Presentation Cup". And in 1993 a replica of that cup was made to be placed in the Hockey Hall of Fame as a stand in when the real cup was out of town.
Every year the winning team is allowed to have up to 52 names engraved on the cup. In addition to the players and coaches, other prominent members of the champion are also included.
There have only been a handful of engravers in the cup's entire history. The first was Carl Peterson, a Danish man living in Montreal who engraved the first names on the trophy in 1948. Two of the subsequent engravers were father and son. Eric Boffey inherited the duties in 1977 following the death of Mr. Peterson. And Eric's son Doug later took over the same privilege.
Each player of the championship winning team is allowed to have the cup for one day. And that's where the real fun begins. Like I said, it has been placed in some very fun and interesting situations. Keep in mind that because of some of this craziness, the trophy has had to have a chaperon since 1994. Someone now is assigned to travel with it constantly, no matter where it goes.
When the 1924 Montreal Canadians won the cup they almost lost it. It seems the team was on the way to celebrate their championship at the owners home when they got a flat tire. The cup had been placed gently enough on top of the spare tire in the trunk so when they needed to change the flat, they put the trophy on a snow bank and promptly forgot it there when they got back on their way.
No one realized the mistake until they reached their destination. The team quickly went back to the scene of the flat tire and found the Stanley Cup right where they had left it.
Two babies have been baptized in the cup, but it has also spent time in two different strip clubs. After the Oilers won in 1987, Mark Messier took the cup to an Edmonton strip club called The Forum Inn. And after the Rangers won in 1994, Messier and some of his teammates took the cup to the famous Scores club in Manhattan.
In 2007 the cup found itself in the middle of a war zone. During the war in Afghanistan it was brought to Camp Nathan Smith in Kandahar to help boost the moral of both American and Canadian forces fighting together overseas.
During the 1962 championship between Montreal and the Black Hawks, the cup was almost pilfered. While in Chicago a young fan from Canada grabbed the cup and made his way toward the exits. He was quickly caught by the police and when asked why he was taking the trophy, he calmly said he wanted to take it back to Montreal. Where it belonged, he said.
And lastly, 1961 Stanley Cup champion Glenn Hall had a long standing error forever fixed on July 16, 2005. After finding out that Hall had not gotten the chance to hold the cup after the Black Hawks victory, the powers that be set about to rectify the situation.
The cup was taken to Hall's Stoney Plain, Alberta home where the Hall of Famer and the championship trophy were united and the old goalie finally got to customarily hoist the cup over his head. Glenn, surrounded by family and friends, also drank champagne from the cup in a celebration that was 44 years overdue but sweet nonetheless.
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