Ok, so I’m biased. I’m a huge puckhead. I love hockey more than football, basketball and baseball. Especially baseball. I mean seriously, 162 games in a season? Of course I’m going to think the Stanley Cup is the greatest trophy in all of sports. Because it is.
I can’t help it, no matter what teams are in the Finals, I always get excited about seeing someone lift the cup (even if it does end up being Dustin Brown). It’s a really special moment for all hockey fans, and even with the Sharks out of the playoffs, I still cant wait. It’s the culmination of a season (or half season) of passionate fandom.
But in the interest of journalistic integrity (which is why you’re here after all), I will attempt to prove to the nay-sayers out there why Lord Stanley’s Chalice is truly the greatest trophy in all of sports, as objectively as I can.
It’s impossible to keep your entire roster healthy throughout the playoffs.
Hockey in general is a physically-demanding sport, but playoff hockey takes physical play to another level. It’s simply way more intense. Just look at some of the highlights from this year’s postseason alone.
And then there’s this one:
It wasn’t until after the game that you found out that he broke his leg on the play, and kept going.
If a team is able to finish the postseason with the same roster as it started the postseason with, it’s a pretty miraculous thing. This doesn’t even take into account the injuries players fight through in order to keep playing. You only really find out how healthy a team is once they’re eliminated. That’s when the truth about injuries start to leak to the general public.
The team favored to win the Cup rarely does.
The team winning the Presidents Trophy (given to the team with the best regular season record) has gone on to win the Stanley Cup just 39 times since the Cup was first awarded in 1893. That’s 39 times out of a 118, or just over 33 percent.
Well one out of three doesn’t sound that bad. In fact, it sounds like the top team wins the Cup pretty regularly. However, the first 21 times the Presidents Trophy winners went on to win the Cup happened only six teams in the league, the next four did it with only 12 teams, and the next nine with 18 teams in the league. Since the league began its modern era in 1992, only five Presidents Trophy-winning teams have lifted the Stanley Cup in the summer. If the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Boston Bruins, we’ll see it again – the first time since the Detroit Red Wings did it in 2008.
It’s one of the oldest trophies in all of sports.
The Stanley Cup was first awarded in 1892, the oldest of any major North American major sport. The only trophies older than the Stanley Cup are the Gentlemen’s Single Trophy, given to Wimbledon’s Men’s Single Champion (1887), the Claret Jug, given to the winner of the PGA’s British Open Tournament (1872), and America’s Cup, given to the champion of the yearly yachting competition (1848).
There is only one Stanley Cup.
One of the greatest things about the Stanley Cup is the fact that there is only one, which means that every player, coach and staff member that is a part of the winning team gets their name engraved onto the chalice. Kids who grow up idolizing their favorite hockey players can actually touch the same cup as their heroes, and have their names engraved alongside them. That is a pretty cool thing.
With only one Stanley Cup, it will forever remain elusive. Even after winning it, teams must return the Cup to the Hockey Hall of Fame after the summer. There’s no “motivation” you gain from seeing your Cup hanging out in your building. In fact, there is no “Your Cup,” just “The Cup.”
Also with only one Cup, it’s able to keep its integrity, steering clear of the potential for rampant commercialism. The Stanley Cup is not made by Tiffany’s, unlike the Lombardi Trophy (NFL), the World Series Trophy (MLB), the Larry O’Brien Trophy (NBA), the Wheeler-Schebeler Trophy (Indy 500), the Women’s National Basketball Association Championship Trophy (WNBA), the Samuel Rudin Trophy (New York Marathon), the Alan I. Rothenberg Championship Trophy (MLS), as well as a series of Super Bowl rings and Olympic medals.
If you win it, you get a spend a day with it – doing anything you want.
This is one of the coolest traditions in sports. Every person who wins the Stanley Cup gets to spend a day with it, doing with it as they please. And really, I mean you can do whatever you want with it.
Usually, players will take it to their hometown and share it with their friends, family and former coaches. It’s a pretty special moment to be able to share your accomplishments with those who helped make it happen.
And sometimes we get some really candid photos.
And my personal favorite…
There is actually someone employed to be the “keeper of the cup.”
That’s right. This guy, Philip Pritchard, has the job of keeping the Stanley Cup in tip top shape year-round. While it might seem like a simple job, it’s full-time. He is the curator of the Hockey Hall of Fame (which is where the Cup lives most of the year), he travels with the Cup as people get to spend their day with it, and he keeps it fresh, clean and shiny for presentation, which he also gets to be a part of.
Seriously, how do you land that gig?
In conclusion, hockey’s Stanley Cup is obviously the best trophy to win in all of sports. Why? It’s super fucking hard to win, you get your name forever engraved onto its ever-growing body, and you get to spend a day with it just like your heroes before you did. The Stanley Cup means more to hockey fans than the Olympic flame mean to the world. I’m serious, it’s just science.
Get excited, people. We’re going to see the Stanley Cup get awarded here soon, and no matter who you root for, it’s a really special and exciting time for the hockey world.