Congratulations to all the participants in the National Hockey League Playoff series, and especially to the Detroit Red Wings, the 2008 winners of the Stanley Cup! It took six hard-fought games, but the Red Wings finally defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Stanley Cup is easily one of the most coveted awards in professional sports, as well as one of the most popular events. This year’s race to the cup is well underway and more exciting than ever. The Predators have already lost to the Red Wings, though the Flames and the Sharks are still duking it out to see who’ll take them on. The Avalance neatly took out the Wild 4 games to 2, and the Stars surprised some diehard Ducks fans by beating last year’s Stanley Cup winners 4 games to 2. The Canadiens, who started out with the best record in the conference, beat the Bruins 4-3, the Rangers knocked the Devils out of contention, and the Penguins crushed the Senators an embarrassing 4 games to none, leaving only the Capitals and the Flyers to fight for the semi-finals. The longer you wait the fewer tickets you’ll have to choose from, so don’t wait, get your 2008 Stanley Cup tickets today!
The Stanley Cup, the oldest trophy competed for by professional athletes in North America, was donated by Frederick Arthur, Lord Stanley of Preston and son of the Earl of Derby, in 1893. Since 1910, when the National Hockey Association took possession of the Stanley Cup, the trophy has been the symbol of professional hockey supremacy. It has been competed for only by NHL teams since 1926 and has been under the exclusive control of the NHL since 1946.
It all started on March 18, 1892, at a dinner of the Ottawa Amateur Athletic Association. Lord Kilcoursie, a player on the Ottawa Rebels hockey club from Government House, delivered the following message on behalf of Lord Stanley, the Earl of Preston and Governor General of Canada:
"I have for some time been thinking that it would be a good thing if there were a challenge cup which should be held from year to year by the champion hockey team in the Dominion (of Canada).
"There does not appear to be any such outward sign of a championship at present, and considering the general interest which matches now elicit, and the importance of having the game played fairly and under rules generally recognized, I am willing to give a cup which shall be held from year to year by the winning team."
Shortly thereafter, Lord Stanley purchased a silver cup measuring 7 ½ inches high by 11 ½ inches across for the sum of 10 guineas (approximately $50); appointed two Ottawa gentlemen, Sheriff John Sweetland and Philip D. Ross, as trustees of that cup; and set the following preliminary conditions to govern the annual competition:
* The winners to return the Cup in good order when required by the trustees in order that it may be handed over to any other team which may win it.
* Each winning team to have the club name and year engraved on a silver ring fitted on the Cup.
* The Cup to remain a challenge competition and not the property of any one team, even if won more than once.
* The trustees to maintain absolute authority in all situations or disputes over the winner of the Cup.
* A substitute trustee to be named in the event that one of the existing trustees drops out.
The first winner of the Stanley Cup was the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association (AAA) hockey club, champions of the Amateur Hockey Association of Canada for 1893. Ironically, Lord Stanley never witnessed a championship game nor attended a presentation of his trophy, having returned to his native England in the midst of the 1893 season. Nevertheless, the quest for his trophy has become one of the world's most prestigious sporting competitions.
The Montreal Canadiens have won a record 23 Stanley Cups, with Toronto a distant second at 13. The Habs also hold the record for most consecutive championships with five, accomplished between the years 1956 and 1960 inclusive.
Over the years, the Cup has been sent in for numerous repairs (from a silversmith and an auto body shop, that we know of). It has also been reputedly used as a trash can, a urinal, a peanut dish, and a candy dish. Additionally, it has been reported as being dismantled, been tossed into cemetaries, has been found in numerous beds and at the bottom of numerous swimming pools (Pittsburgh Penguin Mario Lemieux and Montreal Canadien Patrick Roy, for example), dumped in a snowdrift, has starred in its own beer commercial, and during the two summers of 1997 and 1998 when the Red Wings won the cup, the Cup went golfing with Darren McCarty, to the shower with Steve Yzerman, bowling with Martin Lapointe and visited Moscow with Slava Fetisov, Slava Kozlov, and Igor Larionov.
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