There have been countless great Stanley Cup stories throughout the trophy’s history. “The Holy Grail” is arguably the greatest trophy in sports and is also the oldest to be competed for in North American professional sports history.
Stanley Cup stories
The Stanley Cup trophy was first awarded in 1893. It was donated by the Governor-General of Canada, Lord Stanley, who is the person the trophy is named after.
Since the early 20th century, there has been a rich history of Stanley Cup traditions and celebration stories. Some traditions have lasted for decades, while other celebrations have been so extreme and unique that they most likely won’t be seen again.
The best Stanley Cup celebrations all begin the same way, and that is with the on-ice celebration immediately after winning.
It begins with the NHL commissioner handing out the Stanley Cup to the winning team’s captain. From there, the players hoist the Cup above their heads and kiss it before passing it to the next player.
While hoisting “Lord Stanley,” the players skate around the rink and celebrate with the crowd. In the end, the players take a group photo with the trophy before heading into the locker room to begin the off-ice celebration.
Stanley Cup pool party
One of the weirder Stanley Cup stories out there is when the Stanley Cup ended up in the bottom of Mario Lemieux’s pool.
After winning the 1991-92 Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Lemieux decided to go swimming with the trophy in his in-ground pool. It did not work, and the trophy ended up at the bottom of the pool.
Patrick Roy decided to copy Lemieux’s idea two years later and was unsurprisingly left with the same result.
The Curse of 1940
The New York Rangers won the Stanley Cup in 1940, and during the following season, the mortgage on Madison Square Garden was paid. This led to the Curse of 1940.
The management burned the mortgage in the Stanley Cup to celebrate, and many fans believed the action disrespected and violated the sacred trophy.
The Rangers would go the next 54 years without hoisting “Lord Stanley” again, with some claiming it was due to the curse.
Name engravings on the Cup
In 1907, names of those on the winning team were engraved on the Stanley Cup for the first time. It was not until 1925 that the yearly tradition began, as the names of the champions have been engraved each year since.
With anywhere between 25 and 55 names added each year, the Stanley Cup trophy has had to go through a few redesigns to create more space.
Three rings on the Cup have been retired so far, with the most recent one coming off on October 1, 2018.
Dropping “Lord Stanley’s Mug”
There have been a few Stanley Cup stories involving players dropping the trophy while out partying.
In 1962, after the Toronto Maple Leafs had captured the Stanley Cup, the team dropped it in a bonfire where it was severely damaged.
The Cup was dropped again in 2021 as Tampa Bay Lightning forward Patrick Maroon dropped it while outside in rainy conditions. The trophy needed to be repaired in Montreal before the players got to spend their day with the Cup.
Forgetting the Stanley Cup trophy
One of the strangest Stanley Cup celebration stories came in 1924 with the Montreal Canadiens.
The team was on its way to Canadiens owner Leo Dandurand’s home to celebrate their Stanley Cup victory when they had to stop to repair a flat tire. It was then that Sprague Cleghorn, a player for the Canadiens, placed the trophy on the side of the road while assisting his teammates. When they got back on the bus, they had forgotten to grab the Cup.
It wasn’t until they got to Dandurand’s home that they realized they forgot the trophy. When they returned to the spot nearly an hour after first leaving it, the team found the Stanley Cup still sitting there on the side of the road.
“Lord Stanley” travels to the Belmont Stakes
In 1994, the Stanley Cup was given the opportunity to take part in watching some horse racing.
Eddie Olczyk, center for the Stanley Cup champion New York Rangers, decided to take the trophy with him to the Belmont Stakes.
It was there that Olczyk and some of his teammates filled the Cup with oats and let the 1994 Kentucky Derby winner Go for Gin eat out of it.
The kicking of the Cup
A Stanley Cup story that is tough to believe (and still unsure of if actually true), one member of the 1905 Ottawa Senators tried drop-kicking the Cup across the Rideau Canal.
To no surprise, the kick was unsuccessful, and the Cup was left in the middle of the canal.
Apparently, the team didn’t retrieve the Stanley Cup until the following day. Luckily for them, the canal was still frozen over, which made for an easy recovery.
A day with the Cup
Another one of the greatest Stanley Cup traditions is when the players each receive their day with the Stanley Cup.
This is one of the perks that the players receive for helping the team win the championship, as they can do whatever they want (within reason) with the trophy on their day. This part of the celebration is typically where the most damage occurs to the Stanley Cup.
The majority of the players will take the “Holy Grail” back to their hometown and share it with all their family, friends, and the entire community.