The Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks begin battling tonight to see who will take home the most famous trophy in team sports, The Stanley Cup. Besides being a Bruins fan, I have a small wager on the outcome.
You may recall that I had a bet in the previous series versus the Pittsburgh Penguins. That was with Michelle. She made good on the bet HERE. The terms were simple: Loser had to post the hated logo of the other team and then say a few good words about the city of the winner; something like that. The terms were loosely-constructed. In any case, I enjoyed winning and I enjoyed Michelle's payoff.
The current wager is with Chuck, a Chicago fan. The terms are as loose. And I expect the payoff will be fun, no matter which of us (him) loses.
(As soon as I lose my humility and start predicting I will win, I will lose. It always happens. Therefore, I take back the part about him losing and I predict the Blackhawks will annihilate the Bruins by a combined score of 23 - 0 in a four-game sweep.)
The quest for The Cup is a long and storied one. I'm not going to recount every story connected with it, but I'll crib a few notes from other places, such as Wikipedia and the National Hockey League website, that might make your viewing of the games more enjoyable even if you have no particular rooting interest (aside from rooting for me to win the bet, of course, since you're reading my blog and I have to assume you aren't doing so because you hate me.)
Here are a few fun facts about The Stanley Cup.
Lord Stanley was appointed by Queen Victoria as Governor General of Canada in 1888. Soon thereafter, he became a huge fan of ice hockey. His sons persuaded him to donate a trophy for the championship of the sport. Stanley purchased a punch bowl for 10 and 1/2 pounds ($48.67 in US funds, equivalent to about $1,250 today.) The bowl was made of silver and was a bit bigger than 7 inches high.
Since that time, the original cup has grown to about 35 pounds of silver and nickel.
Stanley himself never saw a Stanley Cup championship game! He was forced to return to England in July of 1893, due to the death of his elder brother, the 15th Earl of Derby. Lord Stanley succeeded him as the 16th Earl, and he never did see the cup awarded.
32 different teams have won The Cup. Only 18 of those teams are still in existence. The Montreal Canadiens have won it more often than any other team - 24 times. As of this writing, they are the last Canadian-based team to have won it. The first American-based team to win The Cup were the Seattle Metropolitans (no longer in existence) who took it in 1917.
In 1919, Seattle and Montreal played to the only Stanley Cup tie. Due to a severe Spanish Flu epidemic, the deciding game of their series was never played. They remain deadlocked at 2 wins, 2 losses, and 1 tie, and no resolution is expected in the near future.
The only other time The Cup wasn't awarded was in 2005, due to a season not being played at all that year.
The NHL does not actually own the trophy. They use it by agreement with the two appointed Trustees of the Cup, who each serve (by tradition) until death. When one dies, the remaining Trustee names a successor.
The Stanley Cup is the only one of the four trophies awarded to the champion of the major North American sports that is singular. By that, I mean it is not copied and given to that year's winner. There is only the one, and the winner keeps it only until another team gains victory. It has the names of all winning players, coaches, and management engraved on it.
(There have been numerous mistakes and oddities in this regard. Some are fairly inexplicable. For instance, in 1972, the Boston Bruins team name appears as "Bqstqn". In 1963, some grammarians apparently were unable to decide if it should be Toronto "Maple LEAFS" or "Maple LEAVES", so they compromised and spelled it "Leaes")
Henri Richard, of the Montreal Canadiens, has his name on The Cup more times than anyone else as a player - 11 times.
Overall, Jean Beliveau of the Canadiens has his name appear more times, due his career as both a player and an executive - 17 times. Red Kelly, of the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs, appears 8 times, the most of any non-Montreal player or executive. Twelve women have their names on The Stanley Cup. The first was Marguerite Norris, who won The Cup as President of the Red Wings in 1954 and 1955.
As for the combatants this year, it will be Boston's 19th trip to the finals and Chicago's 12th, which rank 4th and 5th overall respectively. Boston has won 6 Cups, Chicago has won 4, and this will be the first time in history they have met in the finals.
List of Stanley Cup champions
One final note : It's going to be fun. It always is.
Soon, with more better stuff.