Quirks of the Cup: Examining the evolution and oddities of hockey's Holy Grail (2024)

Sean McIndoe and Drew Jordan

Jun 7, 2024

The Athletic has live coverage of the Oilers vs. Panthers in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final

Editor’s note:This story was originally published during the 2023 Stanley Cup playoffs. It has been updated.

We’re getting closer to seeing what may be the most famous trophy in sports presented to a new team.

That team may literally be new this year — the Florida Panthers, slight favorites heading into the series, have never won a championship in franchise history. Meanwhile, the Edmonton Oilers have won five, but none since 1990. That adds some extra drama to what’s already one of the greatest moments in the modern sports landscape, as the captain of the winning team is called to center ice to lay his hands on the Cup.

Quirks of the Cup: Examining the evolution and oddities of hockey's Holy Grail (1)

Whether you’re a hockey fan or not, you probably love the Stanley Cup. (Years ago, when writers from the four major North American pro leagues did a draft of their favorite things from other sports, the Stanley Cup was the No. 1 pick.) There’s something about the trophy — its age, its size, the way the winners’ names are engraved on it for (almost) perpetuity — that makes it seem like just about the perfect reward for a gruelling season.

But how well do you know the Stanley Cup? Let’s walk through some of the facts and figures, and see if we can learn a thing or two about the famous silver mug.

1892: The year the original trophy was commissioned by Lord Stanley of Preston, Canada’s Governor General. The original was just the bowl, and was known as the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup.

1893: The year the Cup was first awarded, to the Montreal Hockey Club. For its first few decades, teams could challenge the current holder for the Cup; it didn’t become the exclusive championship trophy of the NHL until 1926, and didn’t officially come under league control until 1947.

1907: The Montreal Wanderers forget the Cup at the home of a photographer; when they return to reclaim it, they find that it’s being used as a flower pot.

1924: The year engraving the name of the entire roster became a tradition. To this day, fans of the winning teams debate who deserves to have their name included; there are rules in place around players and staff, but it’s possible to request an exception.

Quirks of the Cup: Examining the evolution and oddities of hockey's Holy Grail (2)

13: The number of teams that can fit on each band, meaning 65 teams can appear on those main bands at a time. That means that bands are removed as the space fills up, with the retired bands sent to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

3,540: Total names to have been engraved on the Cup as of the 2022 Avalanche win, according to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

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11: The record for the most times appearing on the Cup as a player, held by Montreal’s Henri Richard.

17: The most total Cups won, by Canadiens legend Jean Beliveau — he won 10 as a player and seven more as an executive after he retired.

Quirks of the Cup: Examining the evolution and oddities of hockey's Holy Grail (3)

1957: After decades of redesigns and different versions of the Cup, the modern version with five thick bands is adopted.

3: Actual number of Stanley Cups that exist today. The first, the original, is kept in a vault at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. The current “real” cup, sometimes known as the Presentation Cup, is the one that’s handed to the winning team at the end of the playoffs, and that players get to spend a day with during the offseason. When available, that trophy is also the one displayed at the Hall of Fame. When it’s travelling, a third “display” version of the Cup is shown at the Hall instead.

2: A probably unbreakable record for the most time appearing on the Cup for the same team in the same year by the same player; goalie Turk Broda, who was listed as both Turk and Walter for the 1941-42 Leafs.

2030: The year that current bottom band is scheduled to be retired, which will mean the Toronto Maple Leafs’ most recent championship will no longer appear on the Stanley Cup.

3: Teams to have their names spelled wrong on the current Cup. The 1962-63 Maple Leafs are the “Leaes,” the 1971-72 Bruins are listed as being from “Bqstqn,” and the 1980-81 Islanders are the “Ilanders.”

0: Number of times the name “Stanley Cup” appears on the Stanley Cup. Technically, the trophy is still called the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup, even though the nickname Stanley Cup is used pretty much everywhere these days.

11: Age in years of the youngest person to ever have their name on the Cup. Kerry Day was 11 years old when he was honored for his role as team mascot for the 1944-45 Maple Leafs.

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72.25: Height in inches of the Stanley Cup today if none of the bands had ever been removed. (Instead, it’s currently listed at 35.25 inches.)

2: Number of Hall of Fame players who were born on October 5, 1965, who’ve had the Stanley Cup dropped into their swimming pool, which isn’t a lot, but it’s weird that it happened twice. Mario Lemieux and Patrick Roy have both had teammates test the Cup’s buoyancy.

Quirks of the Cup: Examining the evolution and oddities of hockey's Holy Grail (5)

209: Number of fluid ounces of liquid the bowl of the Cup can hold, according to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

1: Number of babies the Cup can hold, although ideally not at the same time as the beer. Two babies have been baptized in the Cup, that we know of.Quirks of the Cup: Examining the evolution and oddities of hockey's Holy Grail (6)

32: Number of countries the Cup has visited as of early 2024.

300: Approximate days the Cup spent on the road last year, according to Phil Pritchard, the Keeper of the Cup.

(Illustrations: Drew Jordan and John Bradford / The Athletic. Photos: Bruce Bennett and Bettmann / Getty Images)

Quirks of the Cup: Examining the evolution and oddities of hockey's Holy Grail (2024)

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