Sports 101

By , Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

It's the oldest trophy that professional athletes compete for in North America. And it's the only trophy in professional sports that has its own bodyguards. Hockey's Stanley Cup trophy is so steeped in tradition that players from the winning team can't even take it home with them. Next week, two teams will compete for the highly coveted Cup: the Buffalo Sabres will play the Colorado Avalanche or the Dallas Stars, depending on the outcome of tonight's game at 7:30 p.m.

Q: How big is the Stanley Cup trophy?

A: It weighs 32 pounds and stands almost three feet high (35-1/2 inches).

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Q: Is the original silver handcrafted bowl still attached?

A: No. The bowl that currently sits atop the Stanley Cup is a copy of the original bowl purchased by the English governor of Canada, Lord Stanley of Preston, in 1892. The original trophy was retired in 1969 because it had become brittle and easily damaged. It can still be viewed at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

Q: What are some of the strange places the cup has traveled?

A: Players have lugged it to horse stables, nursing homes, and day-care centers. It has even been used as a planter for geraniums. Dogs have drunk water from it, horses have eaten oats out of it, and it even went to Russia, where 75,000 people cheered it as it was paraded around a soccer stadium in Moscow.

Q: Who guards the cup?

A: A team of five men who work for the Hockey Hall of Fame serve as the Secret Service of the cup and follow it everywhere, including traveling abroad.

Q: How were names engraved in the cup and how has it grown?

A: In the early days, players added their names to the trophy by scratching them onto the original bowl with a knife or a nail. From the 1890s to the 1930s, several bands were added to the bottom of the bowl to hold the names of the winning teams and their players. In 1948, it was rebuilt as a two-piece trophy with a wide barrel-shaped base and a removable bowl and collar. The modern one-piece cup was introduced in 1958.

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