The Stanley Cup is one of the most iconic trophies in the world of sport and the pinnacle of the domestic hockey calendar. Particularly in North America, winning the Cup makes you a local hero, with so much respect given to those who come out of the gruelling offseason with the massive trophy. So here, we’re recapping some of the Stanley Cup’s finest moments.
The coming of the Stanley Cup
Technically, the first Stanley Cup was labelled the “Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup,” being dubbed the “Stanley Cup” in the 1890s as it was introduced by Lord Stanley of Preston, the Governor of Canada. Since its very inception, the trophy has come with the rules of never becoming the property of the team and that winners have to return the Cup in good order for the next winning team.
The age of the Stanley Cup came into play with the fall of the WHL in 1926 and the subsequent rise of the NHL. In 1947, the NHL became the outright owners of the Stanley Cup, with it becoming the league’s signature prize to this very day. One of the oldest traditions among winners of the Cup is that they have to drink champagne out of the bowl atop the trophy.
Legendary winners of the Stanley Cup
Repeat winners of the Stanley Cup will always be hailed as the best teams in the NHL’s history, with the Montréal Canadiens boasting a massive 23 wins, with the Toronto Maple Leafs (13), Detroit Red Wings (11), and Boston Bruins (6) significantly further back on that count. A nod should also go to the consecutive winners, like the New York Islanders from 1980 to 1983, and the Habs from 1957 to 1960 and again from 1976 to 1979.
Of course, it’s the games themselves that make legendary winners, with the Stanley Cup Playoffs and its best-of-seven setup being intense in such a physical sport. Game 7 between the Red Wings and Rangers in 1950 – which ended 4-3 in the second period of overtime – is almost certainly one of the best games, while the seven-game Finals between the Canucks and Rangers in 1994 might just be the ultimate series in the Cup’s history.
Power of the underdog in the Stanley Cup
As much as the Stanley Cup is designed to pit the best teams against each other, there’s nothing quite like an against-all-odds run to the Finals, let alone the Cup. In 2018, we saw the inaugural Vegas Golden Knights fly to the Finals, but come up a bit short to the Washington Capitals. When it comes to underdog winners, there are plenty more to choose from.
You could point to the 2012 Los Angeles Kings, 1980 New York Islanders, 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs, 1995 New Jersey Devils, and the 2006 Carolina Hurricanes. The very nature of the playoffs means that even the odds provided by experts of the sports betting scene in Canada and the US are often defined on the ice, which is why many fans who don’t back the favourite end up landing a return.
With the 2022 Stanley Cup in the books, and the Colorado Avalanche hoisting the trophy, North American hockey now turns to the 2022/23 campaign. As it stands, the Avs are tipped to repeat, but the Buds, Lightning, and Panthers are also in the running.