The Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings play tonight in Game 7. The winner will be awarded perhaps the most cherished trophy in all of sports: the Stanley Cup.
What is this thing? Here are some facts about the Stanley Cup.
First awarded in 1893, the Stanley Cup is the oldest professional sports trophy in North America. Before the Stanley Cup, the oldest sports award in North America was given at the completion of the Pilgrim Games to the winning Native American team. It was called the Stanley Small Pox Blanket.
The Stanley Cup is one of only two trophies in professional sports that has the names of the winning teams engraved onto it. The other is the Grey Cup. This is why sports trophy engraving is the second largest industry in Canada. (The No. 1 industry in Canada? Politeness.)
The Cup was originally awarded to the top amateur hockey team in Canada. It was donated in 1892 by Lord Stanley of Preston. Lord Preston had opened Canada’s first 7-Eleven franchise and had hoped his donation would be great publicity for the store’s Big Gulp.
It was determined at the very beginning that the Cup would not be owned by any year’s champion, but transferred from winner to winner each year. This is why, for a time, the Cup was commonly referred to as the Stanley Cup O’ Bacteria.
There are numerous engraving errors on the Cup. For example, Jacques Plante’s name is misspelled five times with errors such as “Jocko” “Jack” and “Plant.” And the last two typos, in which Plante’s name is spelled “Jacques ‘Penisface’ Plante” and “Jacques Plante AKA Dickbreath McFartsmouth” leads many to suspect the errors may have been intentional.
The Cup is regularly taken on tours to serve as a morale booster to Canadian troops. The Cup has travelled to Canadian military bases all round the world including to Ontario, Manitoba and Quebec.
The tradition of the winning team captain skating around the ice while holding the Cup above his head began in 1950 when Ted Lindsay of the Red Wings did it so fans could see the trophy. Despite Lindsay’s kind gesture, Detroit fans could still not see the Cup through the smoke from the fires they were setting.
The original Stanley Cup was replaced in 1963 by a larger, redesigned Cup. In a special ceremony marking the transition, officials in the NHL league office urinated into the original Cup and then poured the piss onto Lord Stanley’s grave.