The Stanley Cup is the championship trophy awarded annually to the NHL playoff winner.



The Stanley Cup is the championship trophy awarded annually to the National Hockey League (NHL) playoff champion. It is the oldest existing trophy to be awarded to a professional sports franchise in North America, and the International Ice Hockey Federation considers it one of the “most important championships available to the sport”. The trophy was commissioned in 1892 as the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup and is named after Lord Stanley of Preston, the Governor General of Canada, who donated it as an award to Canada’s top-ranking amateur ice hockey club. The entire Stanley family supported the sport, the sons and daughters all playing and promoting the game. The first Cup was awarded in 1893 to Montreal Hockey Club, and winners from 1893 to 1914 were determined by challenge games and league play. Professional teams first became eligible to challenge for the Stanley Cup in 1906. In 1915, the National Hockey Association and the Pacific Coast Hockey Association, the two main professional ice hockey organizations, reached a gentlemen’s agreement in which their respective champions would face each other annually for the Stanley Cup. It was established as the de facto championship trophy of the NHL in 1926 and then the de jure NHL championship prize in 1947.

There are actually three Stanley Cups: the original bowl of the “Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup”, the authenticated “Presentation Cup”, and the spelling-corrected “Permanent Cup” on display at the Hockey Hall of Fame whenever the Presentation Cup is not available. While the NHL has maintained control over the trophy itself and its associated trademarks, the NHL does not actually own the trophy but uses it by agreement with the two Canadian trustees of the cup. The NHL has registered trademarks associated with the name and likeness of the Stanley Cup, although there has been a dispute as to whether the league has the right to own trademarks associated with a trophy that it does not own.

Since the 1914–15 season, the Cup has been won a combined 103 times by 20 current NHL teams and five teams no longer in existence. It was not awarded in 1919 because of the Spanish flu epidemic and in 2005 because of the 2004–05 NHL lockout. It was held by nine different teams between 1893 and 1914. The Montreal Canadiens have won it a record 24[nb 1] times and are the most recent Canadian-based team to win it, doing so in 1993; the Detroit Red Wings have won it 11 times, the most of any United States-based NHL team, most recently in 2008. The current holders of the cup are the Colorado Avalanche after their victory in 2022. More than three thousand different names, including the names of over thirteen hundred players, had been engraved on it by 2017.


Hockey Hall of Fame

The specially refurbished bank vault houses the original Stanley Cup donated by Lord Stanley of Preston at the Hockey Hall of Fame. This trophy, considered hockey’s greatest historic chalice, was first presented in 1893 and retired in 1962. Also exhibited within Lord Stanley’s Vault is an extensive collection of Stanley Cup championship rings, removed and retired Stanley Cup bands, a timeline of the different shapes the Cup has taken, and historical artifacts that tell the story of this one-of-a-kind treasure.


Other Trophies in the NHL

Make sure you check out my other posts on other NHL trophies if you haven’t already!


Other Trophies in Other Leagues

Check my post on how the playoffs work for other sports leagues with their respective trophies!


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