“This is the only thing that has seen more parties than us.” Steven Tyler of Aerosmith on the Stanley Cup.
It’s all about Stanley.
It’s all about a gold-lined silver bowl that 117 years ago cost approximately $48.
When the Red Wings and Penguins meet Saturday to commence the Stanley Cup Finals, they’ll do so with the dream of hoisting Lord Stanley’s Cup above the heads and celebrating with what has become one of the most revered trophies in all of sports.
And one of the most storied.
But winning the Stanley Cup isn’t just about hoisting it over your head and taking a lap around the ice with it. No, no, no. It’s about drinking from it. Traveling with it. Partying with it. Forgetting it. Having your child christened in it. Taking it to go to Yankee Stadium, Afghanistan, the local bowling alley, the Arctic Circle, Belmont Park and MTV.
Purchased by Lord Stanley of Preston, the Governor General of Canada, the Stanley Cup was to be used as a challenge cup rewarding the best amateur hockey teams in Canada. First awarded for the 1893-94 season, the Stanley Cup has had rings added and been constructed as two, separable pieces.
But the Stanley Cup, unlike other major professional and amateur trophies, has been the most traveled. It’s also accompanied every player on every Stanley Cup-winning team for 24 hours since 1995.
So hockey’s Holy Grail has become one of sport’s greatest traditions. And the legend of the Cup – and the improbable places it appears – seems to only grow with every passing year.
Where to begin? With the Stanley Cup winding up in the bottom of Mario Lemieux’s or Patrick Roy’s swimming pools? With Mark Messier taking Stanley to Scores in New York City? Being kicked into the Rideau Canal?
Ah, the stories Stanley could tell.
One of the earliest stories of the Stanley Cup involves the 1924 Montreal Canadiens. While Stanley (in the trunk) was being taken to a party, the car had a flat tire. Legend has it Stanley was placed on a snow bank while the tire was changed. Unfortunately, when it was time to drink from Stanley at the party, the players realized they left it by the side of the road.
Chris Nilan, part of the 1986 champion Canadiens, put his infant son in the Cup. “His bottom fit right in,” he said.
Members of the 1997 and ’98 Detroit champion teams took Stanley golfing (Darren McCarty), to the shower (Steve Yzerman), bowling (Martin Lapointe) and Moscow (Slava Fetisov and others).
The Stanley Cup has nearly been stolen twice.
During the 1962 playoffs, a Montreal fan, unhappy Stanley was in a glass case in the lobby of Chicago, opened the case, picked up the Cup, and headed for the exit before police spotted him. In 1977, seven men entered the Hall of Fame with a large gym bag and detailed photos of the Hall’s floor plan before being chased outside.
Like the real thing, a Lego replica of the Stanley Cup – made from 6,000 Lego blocks – went missing during a sports equipment show in Las Vegas. A man in Arizona alerted authorities after seeing a story about the missing Lego Cup that he had purchased it while on business in Las Vegas for $50.
Brian Noonan and Nick Kypreos brought the Cup on MTV’s Beach House, where it was stuffed with claims and oysters. King Clancy reportedly used it to deposit his cigars. Stefan Lefebrve baptized his son in Stanley. And on it goes.
In the past 20 years, Stanley has traveled to the Northwest Territories, Prague, Sweden, Nova Scotia, Finland, New Haven, Switzerland, London, Kandahar and, yes, the Arctic Circle.
For Stanley, the party never ends.