Whenever spring comes around, hockey fans start drooling over the Stanley Cup, which has stood as the highest award in professional hockey since 1892. Over the years, it has developed lore that rivals the legendary players who have fought for it throughout their careers.
Here are six things you might not know about "hockey's holy grail."
1. A Unique Award
Unlike the MLB's Commissioner's Trophy, the NBA's Larry O'Brien Trophy, and the NFL's Vince Lombardi Trophy, the Stanley Cup is the only Big Four championship award that predates its league. Lord Frederick Arthur Stanley commissioned the iconic trophy to honor the best Canadian hockey team in 1892, which was 25 years before the NHL was founded.
For most of its pre-NHL history, trustees arranged competitions for the Cup like title fights in boxing; whichever team won the Cup had to defend it against challengers from rival leagues.
2. First Snub
Nowadays, players can't wait for their turn to skate around the rink with the trophy after winning the Stanley Cup Final. But the first champions weren't so thrilled in 1893. The Montreal Hockey Club was miffed that the name of their league (Montreal Athletic Association) appeared on the trophy instead of their team name. So they refused to collect the award until the following year, when they won it again.
3. Unlikeliest Champs
The smallest town ever to win the Cup is Kenora, Ontario, which had a population of approximately 6,000 residents when the Thistles clinched hockey's top honor. But their glory was short-lived. They lost the Cup to the next challengers a mere 64 days after winning it in 1907.
4. The First American Victors
It took 25 years, but an American team finally managed to win the Cup in 1917 when the Seattle Metropolitans beat the Montreal Canadiens. However, the Habs would get the last laugh as they would hoist the trophy a total of 24 times in their franchise's illustrious history. But the Mets folded shortly after their triumph and professional hockey has yet to return to Seattle.
5. Grave Errors
If you ever get a chance to look at the Cup in person, keep an eye out for the trophy's infamous misspellings. On top of a few flubs with the names of players, the 1971-72 champs are credited as "Bqston Bruins." And the winning team in 1980-81 is spelled "New York Ilanders."
And because of how much it would cost to fix the engraved errors, the errors are still on the trophy.
6. The Next First?
Seth Rogen caused controversy in the summer of 2014 when he drank beer out of a replica Cup during Hilarity for Charity, his comedy tour designed to raise money for Alzheimer's research. But we were surprised to see him pouring pitchers instead of ounces into the chalice. To date, the Cup has been used as a baptismal font, a dog food dish and a champagne glass. But no one has ever filled the bowl with cannabis and rolled a joint inside the chalice - yet, at least. Maybe a player will if the Cup returns to Colorado.
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