The Baron’s aide-de-camp, Capt. Colville, was assigned the task of purchasing a trophy to be presented to the lord’s sons’ athletic team at the school they attended, Rideau Hall in Ottawa, Canada. Although the baron was in England at the time (1892). But he was the governor-general of Canada and would be returning there soon. The trophy was to honor the passionate devotion the sons’ had for the game of hockey. The award would be a pleasant surprise for team and school.
Colville was to find a simple, unpretentious design but worthy. The choice cost ten guineas, or fifty U.S. dollars.
The trophy is shown here with Baron Stanley’s picture also, the illustration taken from the “Old Farmer’s Almanac” along with some information taken from the periodical and other sources. Due to the recent professional hockey championship tourney discovering the material is both timely and interesting even though we here inland from ice rinks or frozen lakes know little of the sport except for what is seen on television. The Stanley Cup is the oldest trophy, the longest, now one hundred twenty years in age given in any sport world-wide. It is much-sought after in professional athletics and perhaps the jewel of all awards.
When first presented at the “Rebels” game in 1893 at Rideau Hall, it was to an amateur team and it remained so until 1910 by which time hockey had spread across the Dominion of Canada and several teams had become professional.
By 1926 the National Hockey League had been organized and it “inherited” the Stanley Cup.
By necessity, the original Cup was retired and a larger one brought to the awards ceremony because, after all, all the names of members of the winning team are etched onto the Cup and space was becoming limited. By now there are probably about two thousand. So far, change and modification have accommodated them. The original Cup was only about seven and a half inches in diameter and was attached to an ebony base so was quite small. The present Cup stands almost three feet high and weighs about thirty-two pounds. It is more than a cold, inanimate object however, but is filled with stories more than just tales concerning its being held overhead and flourished about.
The recent championship games between the Boston Bruins and the Chicago Blackhawks was but one of six times those teams have met in hard-fought rivalry. The two teams were contenders from the beginning. They were part of the “Original Six,” the two teams forming the league at the start along with the Red Wings, Rangers, Maple Leafs and Canadians.
The Bruins and Blackhawks six times between 1927 and 1978, the Bruins winning their first championship in 1927, the “Hawks” in 1934.
After 1978 the Blackhawks moved to the Western Conference. Of the six meetings, the Blackhawks had won only one time so this year’s, 2013, was a sweet victory.
Weather here in the northwest of Illinois no longer co-operates to freeze the water hard enough to make ice thick enough on which to skate like it once did. Unless you are near a “manufactured” ice rink, open or enclosed, in a city you’ve likely not to have learned to skate. Kids skated on creeks and streams or the pond out behind the barn. Back then metal strap-on blades were have-to haves. A bent limb sufficed as a hockey stick to hit a bent-up can for a puck. A couple sticks served as the goal.
But hockey has been around longer than those games of “modern times;” in fact, it’s been around for centuries.
A debate does crop up every so often over what served as its inception ... Was it a modification of the old Irish game of hurling, that is revived at the Winter Olympics: a stone with a handle slid ingloriously down the ice alley? Or did it come from an ancient game the native Americans played with a round stone centuries back? Each proponent claims they are right. No matter which side claims its regulations, the Canadians are mostly believed to be the “mother of its invention.” Indians of Western Canada being the “home of hockey.”
The modern sport in Danada was first organized there and rules “codified.” Those rules were accepted throughout the world, although there are slight modifications in Great Britain, Europe, the U.S. and Canada and International regulations. For years hockey was played only on “natural” ice but when rinks became enclosed and the ice manufactured at any time or place, some changes were instigated.
With Canada forming the rules globally and all across their provinces, organized hockey was an early sport unequalled anywhere else. Leagues were formed all over. By 1887 the Amateur Hockey League formed and was recognized as the first of its kind and leader in numbers.
Hockey wasn’t played in the United States until 1894-95 when a group of students from America went to Canada, learning the game by watching and participating. Their enthusiasm was so great when getting back to the States, that clubs first formed, schools took it up as competitive sport and all kinds of teams organized in fraternal orders, churches, neighborhoods, and so forth. The first official league in the U.S. had two teams playing; the St. Nicholas Skating Club and the Brooklyn Skating Club in New York City, December 15, 1896 with the “Nicks” winning 15-0. Hockey became an important winter sport and soon paid athletes were brought together, the quick and shrewd being much sought after. Professionals became heroes. Leagues were formed and the strongest of those was the National Hockey League which exists today but now with Eastern and Western Conferences. Its initiation occurred November 22, 1917. It came about as a result of the National Hockey Association founded in Canada in Montreal, December 2, 1909. It had but four teams: Toronto Areanas, Montreal Wanderers, Montreal Canadians and the Ottawa Senators. In 1924 the league expanded to include teams from the United States. At one time ten teams competed from both countries but it was reduced to six in 1942. Many an adjustment has been made through the decades ... From seven man teams to six, so on and so forth.
And most of this time stories have been collected and told about the trophy that is but one awarded in the sport. The most coveted, however, is the Stanley Cup.
Frederick Arthur, Baron Stanley, of Preston had first awarded the Cup mounted on its ebony base to Rideau Hall school, his sons’ academy of amateur players. Because it is one hundred twenty years old, many stories have accrued around it such as in 1987 when the winning team, the Edmonton Oilers took Stanley across from the rink to a hotel with a strip show. When NHL executives heard of that, they strongly admonished the Oilers to keep the Cup in “more genteel surroundings.” Stanley was also kicked into the Rideau Canal in Ottawa but, fortunately, the water was frozen and when search was made the next day, the Cup was found on top of the ice. This in the early 1900’s and done by the “Silver Seven.”
A few years later, same city, the Stanley Cup was used as a “ball” and was thrown over a fence into a graveyard, further adding to its dents and bents.
Stanley has appeared at player’s weddings, used as a dog watering bowl and stolen from the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1970. An anonymous tip in 1979 led the police to retrieve it from the back room of a dry cleaners all wrapped up in Christmas paper.
Partying hard, the Montreal Canadians in 1924 set Stanley on the curb while they changed a flat tire, then drove away, forgetting it. The next day it still sat there, fortunately. Apparently, if you ask nicely, team members can take it anywhere for any occasion. The young daughter of an Oilers goaler, Andy Moog took it to school for show and tell!
A major change took place in the Stanley Cup in 1947 when decision was made to “modify” the Cup. A Montreal silversmith, Carl Peterson, took it apart, layer by layer, carefully renovating the Cup in stages. Each was meticulously copied, all team members names were put on five new bands, stamped, not engraved, 1/32nd inch deep. The names were put closer together for more space in future and as names fill the surface, the oldest band will be removed with others replacing it. The bands will be put in the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto where the original Cup rests as well as does the present one. The latter is sterling silver, about three feet tall and weighs thirty-two pounds. (The original Stanley Cup was made of nickel, silver and alloys). Both are exhibited at the Hall of Fame until tournament time comes around when who knows what might occur in that long history of a unique and interesting award. We now recognize the Stanley Cup as the oldest trophy awarded in professional sport. And those of us who normally couldn’t tell a hat trick from a hockey stick, suddenly became engrossed with the exciting sport, with exciting over-times and the most taxing of times played. When Lord Stanley’s trophy is lifted overhead we can now say we know a little aboot it!