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Stanley Cup timeline, from 1892 to today

by John Kreiser

Key dates in the history of the Stanley Cup:

1892: The Lord Stanley of Preston proposes the creation of a trophy to be awarded to the champion hockey team in Canada.

1893: The Stanley Cup, a silver bowl that cost less than $50 at the time, is awarded to the Montreal A.A.A., whose affiliate, the Montreal Hockey Club, finished first in the Amateur Hockey Association of Canada, a five-team league. The Montreal team won seven of its eight games. No playoffs were held.

1894: The Cup changed to a challenge format, with the trustees deciding which challenges were valid. In the first Stanley Cup Playoff game, the Montreal A.A.A. defeated the Montreal Victorias 3-2 on March 17, then defeated the Ottawa Capitals 3-1 five days later to retain the Cup. Until 1912, challenges could take place at any time, and teams could defend the Cup numerous times in the same year.


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1903: The first hockey dynasty, the Ottawa Silver Seven, won the first of its four consecutive Stanley Cups in March. They held it through February 1906.

1910: The National Hockey Association, the predecessor of the National Hockey League, is founded. The NHA quickly became the best league in Canada and held the Cup for four years.

1912: Trustees mandate that the Cup was only to be defended at the end of the champion's regular season.

1914: The Victoria Aristocrats become the first member of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association (PCHA) to challenge for the Cup. They lost to the Toronto Blueshirts. But a year later, the Vancouver Millionaires defeated Ottawa to win the Cup.

1916: The Montreal Canadiens win the first of their 24 Stanley Cups by beating Portland in a five-game final.

1917: The National Hockey League supplants the NHA. The Seattle Metropolitans become the first U.S.-based team to win the Stanley Cup.

1919: In the only Stanley Cup Final not played to completion, Seattle and the Montreal Canadiens abandoned the series due to an influenza outbreak. The teams split the first four games.

1922: The Western Canada Hockey League is formed. With three leagues, the Cup format changes to have two league champions face off for the right to challenge the champion of the third league in the Final. That lasts until the WCHL and PCHA merge into the Western Hockey League in 1924.

1924: Engraving the names of the winning team on the Cup becomes an annual tradition.

1925: The Victoria Cougars become the last non-NHL team to win the Cup. The WHL folds a year later.

1926: The NHL assumes control of competition for the Stanley Cup.

1939: The Stanley Cup was given a standardized form as a long, cigar-shaped trophy. It stayed this way until 1948, when it was rebuilt as a two-piece trophy with a wide barrel-shaped base and a removable bowl and collar.

1947: The NHL signs an agreement with the Cup's trustees, granting control of the Cup to the League and allowing it to reject challenges from other leagues and teams that might have wanted to play for the Cup.

1949: The Toronto Maple Leafs become the first NHL team to win the Cup in three consecutive seasons.

1958: The current one-piece Cup with five bands for the names of the winners is introduced. Five years later, NHL president Clarence Campbell felt the original Cup was becoming too brittle and had another one struck -- this is the one that's used today.

1960: The Montreal Canadiens win their fifth straight Stanley Cup, a feat still unmatched.

1969: The original Stanley Cup is retired to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

1980: Anders Kallur and Stefan Persson of the New York Islanders become the first European-trained players to win the Cup. They win three more as members of the Islanders, the last team to win four in a row.

1991: The last place on the last band of Cup winners is filled. The oldest band is retired and a new one added; this procedure is followed to keep the Cup from becoming unwieldy.

1993: A third Stanley Cup is struck to assure there will always be one available for viewing at the Hockey Hall of Fame. In the same year, the custom of giving each member of the winning team a day with the Cup during the summer begins.

2004: Another band of names is filled after the Tampa Bay Lightning win the Cup. The oldest band is again retired.

2008: Nicklas Lidstrom becomes the first European-born captain to raise the Cup after the Detroit Red Wings defeated Pittsburgh in the Final.

Part 4: Some Stanley Cup celebrations lead to trouble

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