I thought that with the Stanley Cup playoffs right around the corner it might be kind of interesting to share some the Stanley Cups rich and exciting history with you.
The Stanley Cup is the only professional trophy where each member of the winning team is allowed to have possession of the trophy for 24 hours. This has lead for some very interesting adventures for the Stanley Cup. In 1905 players of the Stanley Cup champion Ottawa Silver Sevens took the Cup with them on their celebrations. While the frozen Rideau Canal with the Cup, one of the players, with a mighty kick, sent the Stanley Cup flying into the Canal where it remained overnight.. The next day, when the Cup was discovered missing, the players rushed to the Canal to recover the snow-covered trophy.
In 1892 Lord Stanley, the Governor General of Canada at the time, donated the Stanley Cup. Both his sons played hockey and he was very interested in the game. Ironically he never saw the Cup competed for as returned to England before the 1893 hockey season.
By looking at the early history of the Stanley Cup's and comparing it to how the game is played today you can tell how the game has changed. The Stanley Cup cost Lord Stanley $50 that's $5,000 in today's money. 2001's winner the Colorado Avalanche paid $58,000,000 in salary to its players to win that $50 Cup, the oldest professional sports trophy in North America.
At first the Stanley Cup was an amateur trophy played for only by Canadians. The Montreal AAAs, a team that won the first seven straight Stanley Cups, only played a total of eight games all season when they won their first Cup in 1893. Today, 30 professional teams, with players come from 22 different countries compete for the Cup. Today teams must first play 82 regular season games to even qualify for the playoffs. Then they need to win 16 playoff games to become Stanley Cup Champions. The first Stanley Cup champions only played eight games all season.
If you were to ask Albert Forrest, the youngest player to ever compete for the Stanley Cup about how competition for the Stanley Cup has changed he would likely talk about changes in travel arrangements. He was the 17- year old goalie of the Dawson City Klondikers who competed for the Stanley Cup in 1904. They were an amateur team that traveled from Dawson City to Ottawa to compete for the Cup. For the first 350 miles they ran behind dog sleds to Alaska where they caught a boat to Seattle and then traveled from there to Ottawa by train. The trip took 22 days and when the team arrived in Ottawa they were forced to play the very next evening. They had not practiced for almost a month and lost both games they played. To pay their way back they played exhibition games for 21 days. Mr. Forrest would likely be shocked if he were alive today to see the charter planes and buses that teams now use fro travel.
The desire to win the Stanley Cup never dies. In 1964 Bobby Baun, a defensemen with the Toronto Maple Leafs was hit on the ankle in game six of the Stanley Cup finals. He was carried from the ice on a stretcher but would not allow doctors to x-ray his ankle. Instead it was taped and frozen and he returned to the ice to score the game-winning goal in overtime. He also played in the seventh game and only after the 7th game did he allow his ankle to be x-rayed. X-rays revealed he had played on a broken ankle. This is the same Bobby Baun that talked his good friend Tim Horton into investing in the doughnut industry. So next time you eat a Tim Horton's doughnut think about Bobby Baun and the courage he showed to win a Stanley Cup. Even even today's players have displayed this same courage. Steve Yzerman and Brendan Shanahan tried playing with broken bones in their legs, Sheldon Souray played with a dislocated shoulder and broken hand, and there are countless other players who have fought through the pain in order to win hockey's greatest prize. That just shows that the spirit to win the Stanley Cup never dies.
So now you know some stories about the Cup's rich history. So when the Stanley Cup playoffs come on this year be sure to watch and cheer for your favorite team.