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NHL’s Stanley Cup takes center stage at San Jose City Hall

The Sharks have been trying for more than a quarter-century to bring the Stanley Cup to San Jose.

But in a rare local appearance, the Cup was in the Rotunda at City Hall on Tuesday as part of the lead-in to the NHL’s All-Star Game festivities this weekend around downtown.

Visitors were was invited to get their photo taken with the Cup, which dates back more than 125 years and is considered by many to be the hardest championship trophy to win in all of sports.

The Cup was originally 7.28 inches tall and 11.42 inches in diameter. But each year, names of the players, along with coaches and executives on the Stanley Cup winning team, have been engraved on bands around the side of the silver chalice.

Remodeled at various times over the years, it now stands 35.25 inches tall and weighs 34.5 pounds. To make sure the Cup stayed at that height as more teams won it, the league has removed three of the bands, which are now housed at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

The Cup has character, and shall we say, an interesting history. The bowl has been filled with any number of beverages, adult and otherwise, has had infants sit in it, has been at the bottom of a swimming pool and has been the dance partner for some, ahem, female entertainers. Some of the engraved names were misspelled.

In 1892, Sir Frederick Arthur Stanley, Lord Stanley of Preston and son of the 14th Earl of Derby, paid the equivalent of $50 for the trophy.

Ice hockey, introduced in Montreal in 1875, was becoming increasingly popular at the time and Lord Stanley donated the Cup, then called the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup, to the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association. It was first awarded to the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association team, champions of the Amateur Hockey Association, in 1893.

From that year forward to 1906, the Cup winner was determined by challenge games between the top amateur teams in Canada. In 1907, though, the Montreal Wanderers won the cup after they became a professional team.

In 1910, possession of the Cup was assumed by the National Hockey Association, the precursor to the NHL.

Since the 1926-27 season, the Stanley Cup has been solely awarded by the NHL.

Today, 16 of the NHL’s 31 teams qualify for the playoffs. The postseason entails four best-of-seven playoff rounds, including the Stanley Cup Final, which is played between the Eastern and Western Conference champions.

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