One of the most coveted trophies in professional sports, the Stanley Cup represents the ultimate achievement for any NHL team. It’s not only a symbol of excellence but also a testament to the collective effort and dedication of an entire organization.
The question remains, though: what happens to the cup once a team wins it? Do they get to keep it forever?
“Hockey is a unique sport in many ways, and the Stanley Cup tradition is no exception.” -Gary Bettman
While the answer may seem simple, there are actually some interesting nuances surrounding the ownership and responsibilities of teams when it comes to the Stanley Cup. For example, did you know that every player on the winning team gets to spend a day with the Cup during the offseason? Or that the original iteration of the trophy was retired in 1970 due to its fragility?
This article will delve deeper into the intricate history and quirks of the Stanley Cup’s journey from championship prize to revered cultural icon. So sit back, grab a drink, and let’s explore the fascinating world of hockey’s greatest treasure.
The Stanley Cup: A Brief History
The Stanley Cup is one of the most prestigious trophies in all of sports, awarded each year to the National Hockey League (NHL) champion. It has a rich and fascinating history that goes back over a century.
The Origins of the Stanley Cup
The Stanley Cup was first commissioned by Lord Stanley of Preston, then Governor General of Canada, in 1892. At the time, professional hockey did not yet exist, and the trophy was intended to be awarded to the top amateur team in Canada.
Over time, the competition evolved as professionalism entered the sport. In 1915, the format became exclusively reserved for NHL teams, which further cemented the Stanley Cup’s status as the pinnacle of North American hockey achievement.
Evolution of the Stanley Cup
Throughout its storied history, the Stanley Cup has undergone many changes and transformations. The original bowl-shaped design gave way to tiered silver rings added over time to accommodate more names. Today, when the cup fills up with names, several rings are removed and preserved at the Hall of Fame in Toronto.
In 1947, the tradition of engraving every member of championship-winning teams onto the Cup itself began, creating an enduring legacy of past champions’ rosters. Perhaps the most memorable modification occurred in 1994, when two insignificant bands were replaced with larger ones that could bear the engraved names of players who had retired prior to winning the Cup, making it possible to honor contributions from legendary NHLers such as Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux.
Famous Stanley Cup Moments
“Do you believe in miracles?” – Al Michaels, calling the final seconds of the United States Olympic hockey team’s stunning win over the Soviet Union in the 1980 Winter Olympics.
There are a plethora of iconic, even mythological moments from Stanley Cup history. From Bobby Orr’s game-winning goal that is still celebrated in highlight reels to this day, to Gretzky’s timeless guarantee of victory (which he made good on), each NHL championship has produced its own mythology and legend.
The iconic cup was also used during hospital visits for critically ill players such as Mario Lemieux it encouraged him, became his get-well soon charm, so much so that he touched it with his lips while being transported through tunnels all around the arena immediately after winning an unlikely second consecutive Cup, back in 1992, which inspired many more retelling stories about the human bond between the player and their quest for glory.
Most Successful Teams in Stanley Cup History
The Montreal Canadiens have won the most Stanley Cups in history, claiming a total of 24 championships across their tenure. Close behind them are the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings, each boasting 13 title victories of their own.
More recently, the Chicago Blackhawks were able to add to their storied history by capturing three Stanley Cups within six years during the early 21st century, cementing themselves as one of the great teams of the current era.
All in all, there is no question that winning the Stanley Cup is the greatest accomplishment that any team can achieve in North American hockey. The competition’s rich legacy encompasses the longstanding traditions of professional hockey in Canada, as well as the thrilling highs and lows of individual playoff battles.
What Happens When a Team Wins the Stanley Cup?
Every year, 31 teams in the National Hockey League (NHL) compete for the chance to lift the most coveted trophy in professional ice hockey: The Stanley Cup. To win this prestigious cup is every team’s dream and the pinnacle of success in their respective seasons. However, do teams keep the Stanley Cup once they win it? Here’s what happens when a team wins the Stanley Cup:
Celebration and Parade
When a team wins the Stanley Cup, they get to celebrate and enjoy the momentous victory with their fans, family, friends, and supporters. Many players describe winning the Stanley Cup as one of the greatest moments of their lives. It’s not just about the hard work and determination over the course of the season; it’s also about the unique bond that develops between teammates through shared experiences, both on and off the ice.
The celebration often includes an official presentation ceremony – usually held at the home arena of the winning team – where each player gets to hoist the cup high above their head, showcasing their achievement to the world. This event signals the start of celebrations that can last all night long!
Soon after the presentation, the winning team typically takes part in a championship parade – a tradition that started way back in 1896 when the Winnipeg Victorias won the first-ever Stanley Cup championship. Like any other parade, there are floats, music, confetti, and lots of cheering from the crowds lining the streets. That said, no two championship parades are ever the same because each city has its unique way of celebrating its victorious team.
Individual Awards and Recognition
It’s up to the NHL to oversee how the Stanley Cup is awarded each year, but the winning team gets to keep the cup for a limited time before it is returned. So, what happens to all the players who helped win the trophy? Well, each player from the winning team earns individual recognition and honors that highlight their skills and contributions throughout the season.
One of the highest individual accolades any NHL player can receive is the Conn Smythe Trophy. This trophy goes to the Most Valuable Player (MVP) in the Stanley Cup playoffs – someone whose performance significantly affects his team’s success during the playoffs. The winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy receives enormous respect from fans, teammates, and opponents alike because this honor recognizes the crucial role played by an elite player on the road to victory.
Another significant achievement that comes with winning the Stanley Cup is the inclusion of every player’s name etched into history alongside other legendary hockey players. Each year, the names of the players, coaches, and management staff of the victorious team are engraved onto the Stanley Cup. This includes everyone from top-performing stars to supporting rookies and even the equipment managers!
“I am extremely proud to be a part of our historic franchise – and now my name entered in the lore of this game.” – Vincent Lecavalier
As mentioned earlier, teams do not get to keep the actual Stanley Cup trophy permanently. Once the celebrations have died down, representatives from the NHL reclaim the cup from the winning team to prepare it for the next season. The tradition dates back to Lord Stanley himself, who originally intended the cup to pass from champion to champion each year, creating a tangible link between past and present winners of the prestigious championship title.
Winning the Stanley Cup is a tremendous achievement for any hockey team. Not only does it guarantee long-lasting memories of celebration and euphoria, but it also entitles each player to individual recognition and honors that elevate their status within this exciting sport.
How Long Can a Team Keep the Stanley Cup?
The Stanley Cup is every hockey team’s dream trophy. Winning it entails so much hard work and dedication that players consider this as the ultimate achievement in their career. But do teams keep the Stanley Cup forever?
When a team wins the Stanley Cup, they get to keep the trophy for a limited time. The NHL allows each player from the winning team to spend one day with the cup within their offseason or summer break. With 23 players on average, this means that the trophy could be on tour for almost a month.
The Summer with the Cup
The period when players get to spend time with the Cup is dubbed by many as “The Summer with the Cup.” This year-long tradition provides the champion team with a schedule where each selected member can present the Cup anywhere they wish – whether at their hometowns, schools, or other public events.
During these moments, the Stanley Cup becomes not just an artifact fought over during battles of bruising physicality and mental toughness. It transforms into a symbol signifying hope, inspiration, and glory shared by everyone involved in bringing the championship home.
“It was almost like a symbiotic relationship between communities, the people who won something, and the thing itself becoming a piece of history.” – Tom Hawthorn, author of ‘The year of the goalie: How Canadians hijacked Hockey’
All tours are planned before the season starts, and most reigning champions include hospitals and children’s charities. Players ensure that they take good care of the trophy for fear of damaging it or getting injured while holding it – superstitions run deep amongst athletes.
Returning the Cup to the Hockey Hall of Fame
After all members have taken their turn with the Stanley Cup and shared their journey with this coveted trophy, it eventually returns to where it belongs – the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Here come the next steps. The trustees who take care of the cup dismantle all of its parts for cleaning. They remove every single nameplate on the bands surrounding the bowl and replace them with new ones containing details of that year’s championship team. They mend any scratches or issues before packing it safely back into its old wardrobe – a sturdy blue contoured chest named The Coffin.
“It’s estimated that there are over 3 million people out there in the world who have been photographed touching the Cup.” – Jeff Denomme (Vice President and Curator, Hockey Hall of Fame)
Besides being symbolic in nature, returning the trophy to the Hockey Hall of Fame is essential because trustees can find time to see if something on the cup needs refreshing. In a few cases, they would get it polished or spot-cleaned by their master attendant.
Teams don’t keep the Stanley Cup forever. After winning the competition, players from the winning team get one day each to spend with the trophy during a life-changing event called “The Summer with the Cup.” They then return the trophy to the Hockey Hall of Fame, where it gets refreshed and prepared to be awarded again at the end of the upcoming season.
Where Does the Stanley Cup Travel During the Off-Season?
The NHL season culminates every year with the awarding of the Stanley Cup, the most prestigious trophy in all of professional hockey. But what happens to the Cup once the current champions have had their time with it? Here are some things you may not know about where the Stanley Cup travels during the off-season.
The Stanley Cup’s World Tour
After the final game of the championship series, the winning team has custody of the Stanley Cup until the following season begins. However, during this period between seasons, there is never a dull moment for Lord Stanley’s prized trophy.
The first stop on the Stanley Cup’s world tour is typically a whirlwind victory parade through the streets of the champion’s hometown. The Cup makes an appearance at local hotspots like bars and restaurants before being whisked away on a plane or helicopter to begin its global journey.
In recent years, the Stanley Cup has visited places as far-reaching as Europe and Russia, but the majority of its stops take place within North America. Team officials, players, and sometimes even retired alumni get to spend their day with the Cup, giving them time to celebrate their achievement with friends and family members who couldn’t attend the playoffs or finals.
Aside from private parties, each summer sees the Stanley Cup visit sports museums, music festivals, golf courses, amusement parks, and other tourist destinations around the world. Even die-hard fans who can’t make it to a hockey game will often flock to see the legendary trophy up close when given the chance.
Community Events and Charity Work
The Stanley Cup’s journey doesn’t end there, however. For nearly three decades, the Hockey Hall of Fame (“HHOF”) has organized visits to children’s hospitals and charities throughout North America during the off-season, incorporating events that allow families to take photos and get autographs with their favorite players while also experiencing some of the Cup’s magic.
The Hall also works with corporate sponsors each year to raise money for select initiatives. This includes a program called “Keeper of the Cup,” which lets fans around the country follow along as one member of the Cup-handling staff travels with it throughout the summer.
Another novelty regarding community events is how a team or player gets to schedule an event with the Stanley Cup. Each player whose name appears on the cup receives 24 hours of visitation rights – where they can bring the trophy wherever he wants for personal celebration. NHL.com explains that when New Jersey won their first-ever Stanley Cup back in 1995, John Madden spent time with his family, allowing them all to drink cereal out of the trophy at breakfast.
“There are seven weeks from the end of the season until we have to turn the Stanley Cup over,” says Philip Pritchard, vice president and curator of the Hockey Hall of Fame. “What happens to it every day is up to the team who owns it at that time.”
Although the Stanley Cup’s ultimate destination varies year by year, it always keeps busy with travel plans both domestic and international and helps thousands of people through charity work. Given its vast fame, the Stanley Cup may well be among the few trophies recognized worldwide beyond hockey channels.
What Happens if the Stanley Cup is Damaged or Stolen?
The Stanley Cup is one of the most iconic trophies in sports, and as such, it represents an enormous amount of pride for those who compete for it. As a result, preserving its integrity is essential to maintaining the spirit of competition that drives players and fans alike. However, there are instances where the Stanley Cup has been damaged or stolen. So, what happens when these things occur?
Stanley Cup Repairs
In the event that the Stanley Cup gets damaged in any way, it is immediately sent off for repairs. While some minor damage can be handled by the Hockey Hall of Fame’s own restoration staff, more major issues will require outside help. For example, in 2017, after Nick Bonino accidentally dented the cup while celebrating with his teammates, it had to be shipped off to Montreal to undergo extensive repairs.
Repairs to hockey’s holy grail are taken very seriously, so the league only trusts a select few craftsmen to restore the trophy to its former glory. The last thing anyone wants is to have the Cup looking anything less than perfect come presentation time.
Security Measures for the Stanley Cup
It should come as no surprise that huge levels of security measures are put in place to ensure that the Stanley Cup is not stolen. Each player on the championship-winning team gets an allotted period of time to spend with the trophy during their summer “cup day” celebrations before it is returned back to the Hockey Hall of Fame. During this time, the Cup is accompanied by at least two members of the Hall of Fame staff who act as bodyguards/minders in case any harm comes to it.
This system has worked relatively well over the years, but there have been multiple instances where the Cup has been stolen, and it’s not always recovered.
Stanley Cup Theft Incidents
Sadly, as with any valuable possession, some people are willing to go to great lengths to take it for themselves. Over the years, there have been multiple thefts of the Stanley Cup. The most famous incident occurred in 1970 when the trophy was taken out of the Hockey Hall of Fame by a group of visitors who decided they wanted to party with it. The drunken revelry lasted all night before someone realised that the cup had vanished into thin air.
The police were notified immediately and began the search but could find no trace of it. Unbeknownst to anyone at the time, some children had stumbled upon the missing Cup sitting in front of a church near their homes in Toronto. They quickly recognized it from photographs and returned the Cup to its rightful owners. It was a fortunate outcome considering how badly things could have ended up simply because of a lack of security measures.
Recovery of Stolen Stanley Cups
This is not the only instance where the Stanley Cup had gone missing. Cup heists continued well into the 21st century. In 2017, while on display at the Pittsburgh Penguins’ stadium following their championship win, the Cup was briefly left unattended until a thief managed to sneak past and steal it. Fortunately, thanks to quick detective work and surveillance footage, the cup was safely recovered within hours and promptly returned to the league officials’ care.
So, even though there have been many incidents over the years where the Stanley Cup has been damaged or stolen, it fortunately hasn’t led to dire consequences – yet. However, one can only imagine the heartbreak and outcry if the Cup was ever lost forever or beyond repair.
“You have to win it, you don’t just keep it” – Jaromir Jagr on the Stanley Cup
Frequently Asked Questions
How long do teams get to keep the Stanley Cup after winning?
Teams get to keep the Stanley Cup for one day after winning. Each player on the winning team gets to spend a day with the Cup and can use it however they please. Some players choose to take it to their hometowns or share it with their families, while others take it on adventures or even eat out of it.
Is the Stanley Cup always returned to the NHL after a team wins it?
Yes, the Stanley Cup is always returned to the NHL after a team wins it. The Cup is the property of the NHL and is only loaned out to the winning team for a short period of time. After each team member has had their turn with the Cup, it is returned to the Hockey Hall of Fame where it is kept safe and protected until the next year’s playoffs.
Who is responsible for the care and transport of the Stanley Cup?
The responsibility of caring for and transporting the Stanley Cup falls on the shoulders of the Keeper of the Cup. The Keeper is an individual hired by the NHL to ensure that the Cup is always in good condition and is taken care of during its travels. The Keeper accompanies the Cup on its journey to each player’s hometown and makes sure it is returned to the NHL in time for the next season.
What happens if a team loses or damages the Stanley Cup?
If a team loses or damages the Stanley Cup, they are responsible for replacing it. The cost to replace the Cup is estimated to be around $10,000, which is a significant fine for any team. There have been instances where the Cup has been damaged, but thankfully, it has always been repaired and returned to its former glory.
Have there been any instances where a team did not return the Stanley Cup on time?
Yes, there have been instances where a team did not return the Stanley Cup on time. In 1905, the Ottawa Silver Seven kept the Cup for an entire year after winning it. In 1962, the Toronto Maple Leafs were two weeks late returning the Cup due to a parade and celebrations. However, since the Keeper of the Cup now accompanies the Cup on its travels, instances of late returns are rare.