Trash-can sculptures on lawns across the Metro Detroit area pay homage to it, championship winners sleep with it and team owners covet it. What is it? It is hockey’s Holy Grail, Lord Stanley’s Cup. After winning it 11 times, the Detroit Red Wings Stanley Cup Travels are legendary.
A hockey trophy since 1893, the Cup has weathered the various incarnations of hockey up through today’s National Hockey League. During that time, the Cup underwent several redesigns. For instance, according to Wikipedia.org, the tradition in the 1940s was to add a new ring every year. As might be expected, this quickly became impractical. So, in 1963, the cup was redesigned into the form we know it in today: a bowl with five bands, each of which holds the names of 12-to-13 championship teams. This “presentation” cup is about three-feet tall and weighs approximately 35 pounds.
Claiming the Cup
Consider the size and weight of the cup next time you see a team captain heft it overhead when claiming a championship. That particular tradition started with a Red Wing player, specifically Ted Lindsay of the 1950 Champion team. The only exception to the practice of the team captain getting first dibs occurred in 1998, when Red Wing captain Steve Yzerman passed it to Vladimir Konstantinov, a player injured in a limo accident the year before.
The circuits the cup takes around the ice are nothing compared to the tour it takes during the summer following championship play. According to the National Hockey League’s Fun Facts, 1995 was the year that officially started the tradition of allowing each member of a Championship team to have time with the Cup during the summer following their win. In fact, according to the Hockey Hall of Fame, the logistics of the practice require a lot of work. According to ABC News, there is a full-time cup “handler” that travels with the cup in its adventures.
Red Wings and Cup Anecdotes
Members of the Red Wings, as well as other championship teams, have traveled with the Cup across the country and across the globe. According to the Legends of Hockey website, the Cup even met the President in the White House with the 2001/2002 Championship Red Wings team. In spite of the Cup’s guardian, it has ended up in some interesting and weird places. For instance, according to ABC News, the Red Wing’s Steve Yzerman showered with it. He apparently also took it jet skiing -– at least according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Most recently, the cup took a spill and suffered a dent during a visit to a bar owned by Detroit Red Wing Chris Chelios. Denials of the incident dropped like rain, but video posted at Dejuiced.com established that the Cup was at the location. The word on the street is that the dent was smoothed out, and the Cup is back to meeting people and making news. In fact, it appeared on Jay Leno with Chris Osgood and Nicklas Lidstrom just a few days after serving as a beer mug at Cheli's Chili Bar. A video of the Jay Leno segment can be found on Ballhype.com.
Along for the Ride
Want a detailed account of where the Red Wings took the cup over the summer of 2008? A journal of its exploits was kept by the Hockey Hall of Fame. There are also several books that chronicle the cup’s adventures in prior years, including Why is the Stanley Cup in Mario Lemieux’s Pool? and Travels with Stanley .