The most famous trophy in sports

Peter Puck examines the history of Lord Stanley's Cup and how it was named.

There are lots of trophies out there that celebrate athletic championships.  

There’s the Commissioner’s Trophy that goes to the team that wins the World Series.  Its greatest feature is a series of gold flags stuck into something that looks like a pincushion.

The FIFA World Cup Trophy, the one that was in the CBC Broadcast Centre a few weeks ago, is so important that only heads of states and the members of the winning team are allowed to put their greasy fingers on it.  Everyone else can only look through a glass case. 

Then there is the trophy that goes to the champions of the NHL.  Of course, I’m talking about the Stanley Cup.

It’s kind of like the game of hockey.  It’s absolutely beautiful and belongs to the people.  It’s designed to be filled with champagne, carried above the heads of the winning players and stroked by an oilman in St. John’s and a school teacher in Saskatchewan. 

This everyman’s status is ironic because the guy who donated this chalice was not an ordinary working stiff.  His name was Lord Stanley of Preston, and he was the Governor General of Canada.  

He donated what became known as the Stanley Cup.  It was a silver bowl, something like a punch bowl, that was 18.5 centimetres (7.28 inches) in height and 29 centimetres (11.42 inches) in diameter.  It simply sparkled and  become known as the Stanley Cup.  At the time it cost $48.67 US.

Of course, over the years the Cup has been given a  few other names.  The one that seems to have stuck is Lord Stanley’s Mug.  No matter.  This is a trophy that players will do almost anything to obtain.

Babies have slept in the famous bowl.  It’s been dropped into the Rideau Canal in Ottawa and taxi drivers have taken it to a whole list of unknown places.  But it always came back.

After the players on the NHL’s winning team have completed their 24 hours with the Stanley Cup it returns home to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto where people can touch it, hold it and have their picture taken with it.  

There’s nothing like it.