The Stanley Cup

The oldest professional sports trophy in North America is awarded in which sport?

And the answer: Hockey.

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Commissioned in 1892 and named after the Governor General of Canada, the Stanley Cup is the oldest professional sports trophy in North America. As of 2021, the Montreal Canadiens have won it a record 24 times, while the Detroit Red Wings have won it 11 times, the most of any United States-based NHL team.

In 1888, Sir Fredrick Arthur Stanley was appointed by Queen Victoria to be the Governor General of Canada. When he arrived in Canada, he was met with his first ever hockey game: a match between the Montreal Victorias and Montreal Athletic Association. Lord Stanley was immediately hooked. He involved his family in the fun, and eventually donated a trophy that would be awarded to the best hockey team in Canada each year.    

The first recipient of the Stanley Cup was the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association in 1893. Winners’ team names were inscribed on the base of the cup until it became too full in 1903, and the teams were inscribed on the cup itself. In 1924, a new tradition began in which the names of players and other important team officials were inscribed on the cup, a tradition which persists today. To make every name fit, a new ring was added every year. When the cup began to tower in height, it was redesigned to add removable bands each time a ring was filled.

Did you know?

There are actually three Stanley Cups! One is handed to the winning team at the end of the championship game. The other is a replica that sits in the Hockey Hall of Fame, and the third holds the real cup gifted by Lord Stanley.

Today, the Stanley Cup is a proud, beautiful trophy celebrating the longstanding history of hockey. Learn more below.

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