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Stanley Cup
January 2003

The Stanley Cup, the oldest championship team trophy in North America, is awarded each year to the NHL playoff champion. It is named for Lord Stanley, Earl of Preston and Governor General of Canada, who purchased the silver cup in 1892 for an amateur ice hockey competition. The original, punch bowl-shaped Stanley Cup was 7 ½ inches high and 11 ½ inches wide and was made by a London-based silversmith in 1892.

From 1910 to 1926, teams from several Canadian professional ice hockey leagues and associations (including the NHL) battled for the cup. Beginning in 1927, only NHL team champions received the trophy after postseason play. The Stanley Cup championship is held each spring after the NHL’s 82-game regular season and four grueling playoff rounds. The championship stages the Eastern Conference champion against the Western Conference champion.

When an NHL team wins the cup, the names of the players, coaches, managers, and owners are inscribed on the trophy. Silver bands are added to the trophy when necessary to make room for all of the names. The trophy is now shaped like a barrel and is nearly three feet tall. The Stanley Cup is comprised of five large bands on the bottom and three smaller bands in the middle that bear the names of the champions from 1893 through 1927. A copy of Lord Stanley’s original cup sits at the top of the trophy. When the bottom band is filled at the base, the oldest of the five large bands is removed from the trophy and stored along with the original cup at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, Canada.

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