Simple rules for trophies:
There can be only one.
The trophy itself must have a history.
There are three big sports in America, and Hockey trying to become the fourth but shooting itself in the foot every time it gets close. Each superbowl you hear that “the blahblahblahs have won the Vince Lombardi Trophy!” Wrong. As anyone from the Czech Republic who has after some struggle mastered the difference between “the” and “a” can tell you, when you say “the” you imply uniqueness. “The Vince Lombardi Trophy” says that there is only one. Pish. They make a new one every year. When a team wins the Superbowl, they get a trinket to display forever. When a team wins the Stanley Cup, they have the trophy only as long as they remain champions.
There are many such trophies. Many of these totems are passed between only two teams, symbols of rivalry and substance of respect. I have a friend with a lump of coal. The challenge every Christmas is to give it to someone else within the circle. If they open the gift, they inherit the coal for the next year. It’s an antitrophy, but the principle applies. There is only one lump of coal, and all in the family know its every fissure. All in the family can recite the entire history of the lump, who got fooled which year and how. It is a great trophy.
The Stanley Cup has history. There was a time no one knew where it was until it turned up in a bar, where it was being used as a spittoon. Better, it has the name of every player on every team that has won the trophy engraved into it. That’s why there’s a little cup and a huge base now. To make room for the history. When a team wins the cup – the cup – they take turns circling the rink with the cup. They hold it over their heads and shout senselessly for their victory lap. But they are holding in their hands the name of every player who has ever done the same thing, and their name will be added soon. Later they will read every name on the cup, and they will get a shiver as they imagine another player, 100 years from now, reading theirs. Once your name is etched into that surface, you are a champion forever.