Why the Stanley Cup is the Best Trophy in Sports

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.


8 thoughts on “Why the Stanley Cup is the Best Trophy in Sports

  1. … and people in the “States” get excited about winning a pennant – a piece of cloth like it was the Shroud of Turin or such.

    The truly greatest thing about winning the Cup is that each player gets to have the Cup for a day. You can do with it just about what you will. The stories are endless. These days, there is a Cup Keep that stays within sight of it at all times lest it end up as the aforementioned drool bucket.

    Let’s not forget the time that some team won the cup and took it out to some long forgotten watering hole. One player bet another that he could kick Lord Stanley’s Mug across the river. His drinking pal took him up on the challenge and the cup sailed (more likely skittered) across the frozen stream landing in a snowbank where it was found the next day.

    The shiny bowl on a pole came to San Diego on tour a few years back. I have a photograph of myself standing next to the hallowed trophy with one arm around it. I didn’t notice til later that my free hand was “touching” myself.

  2. Dare I mention … the only sports trophy older than the Stanley Cup — the America’s Cup?

    There are a lot of really good perennial trophies, such as the Borg-Warner Trophy or The Ashes. The magnificent Stanley Cup is one of the greatest, and the second-oldest. Even the quiz game Trivial Pursuit mistakes the Stanley Cup for the oldest.

    But the true oldest trophy is the America’s Cup.

  3. Hah! I just knew Trivial Pursuit must’ve gotten something wrong. Those bastards. And one time I even kept my eyes open in a sneeze just to prove them wrong. But I don’t remember if I was touching myself at the time.

  4. There are indeed many good trophys, and the ones associated with rivalries between two colleges all probably have great history and many stories as well.

    The mojor pro sports in this country should take notice of that. But with all the prestige that woud artificialy be conferred on the “one” trophy by the media, the odds of hijinks adding to the trophy’s mystique would be pretty small.

  5. A moment to give Dave Andrychuck (can’t imagine I spelled that right) a cheer. 22 years of playing hockey, and he finally got to hoist the cup! By the way, as the motorcyclist mentioned Calgary is half American half European, Tampa Bay is half Canadian half European!

  6. I’m doing my best not to gloat, even though Sparta seems to be sucking. We’ll see if they can turn it around when the NHL players arrive.

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