The current season marks 100 years from the creation of the National Hockey League, replacing its predecessor, the NHA (National Hockey Association) that lived for only eight years. At first, it was one of the many leagues competing for the Stanley Cup and consisted of only four Canadian teams (this is why it’s called a “National” league). Later, due to mergers and folds, it expanded to the US and became the only professional ice hockey league in North America. And here are further 5 cool ice hockey facts to celebrate 100 years of NHL.
The Stanley Cup – the oldest championship trophy to be awarded in a professional sports franchise – was named after Lord Stanley of Preston, the Governor of Canada at the time. Over the years, it has gained a series of nicknames, ranging from Lord Stanley’s Cup to The Holy Grail, and even the Stovepipe Cup – it has become quite the pipe due to the many silver bands added to its bottom to bear the engravings of the winning teams’ members names. It was redesigned in 1948 to have removable bands – when the topmost band is filled with names, it is removed, and preserved in the Hockey Hall of Fame, and a new, blank band is added to the bottom.
Traditionally, the names of some players of the NHL champion – those who have played at least half of the regular season games or played at least one game of the Stanley Cup finals. But there are some special cases, too, on record – like the name of Vladimir Konstantinov engraved on it in 1988 despite him losing the possibility to finish the season due to a car accident the previous year, or the acknowledgment of a missed season (“2004–05 Season Not Played”).
The winning team has to drink champagne from the top bowl of the Stanley Cup – this is a tradition that’s been tied to the trophy for longer than the NHL has existed. And when the trophy is awarded to the winning team – right on the ice – each member, starting with the captain, has to skate around and show it off to the viewers.
The Stanley Cup stays with the winning team – physically – for about 100 days, always accompanied by a representative of the NHL. This didn’t stop some of them to use it in unorthodox ways, to say the least. It is not a rarity to see ice hockey players baptize their children using it, and there are records of many of them eating various foods from it. And three players – the New York Islanders’ Clark Gillies, the Anaheim Ducks’ Sean O’Donnell, and the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Nick Bonino – were even recorded letting their dogs eat out of it.