NHL: Stanley Cup Traditions, Past and Present

Mark GreenContributor IApril 13, 2008

The Stanley Cup Playoffs has been a big part of North America since the "Holy Grail" was first contested for in the late 1920's and for some of you hockey historians out there, you would know that Ottawa was technically the first team to win the cup back in 1927 

Since this time, many Stanley Cup playoff traditions have risen from the woodwork. Today every player and team have form their own traditions, from growing a playoff beard to not changing their underwear, but for a moment, let’s look at some particular traditions:

One of the oldest traditions would be the winning team drinking champagne from the Cup. This tradition was started back in 1896 by Winnipeg Victorias, long before the NHL days but still this tradition carries on to this day.

Another tradition would be the on ice presentation of the Cup to the winning team of the Stanley Cup Finals, and then carried around the ice by every player and coach on the team.

Scotty Bowman is most notable for strapping on his skates after winning the Cup and carrying it around the ice. However, fans may be surprised to know that prior to the 1930's the Stanley Cup was not always awarded on the ice.

In fact, the first time the Cup was awarded on ice was 1932 when the Toronto Maple Leafs won the cup, and still this was not mandatory until the 1950's when Ted Lindsay, Captain of the Detroit Red Wings, was awarded the Cup on ice and hoisted it over his head.

Another common tradition is that no player will touch the Cup until they have rightfully won it in the Stanley Cup Finals.

Players have the perspective that the Stanley Cup is a true championship trophy and you shall only touch it or hoist it after you have won it.

But, like most players there are those select few who like to stand out and break a tradition or a rule per say.

For instance, Stephane Matteau of the New York Rangers in 1994 tapped the Wales Trophy with his stick before overtime in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals and ironically he was the man to get it done in double overtime and win the Holy Grail for his team.

Lastly, the most common tradition amongst players is "Players Day With the Cup" where every player and team management on the team get their day in the sun with the Holy Grail.

This tradition is a new one, started in 1995, and is always accompanied by one representative of the Hockey Hall of Fame.

However, the players do as they wish with the Cup. Derian Hatcher used it as a cooler at a party he hosted, Clark Gillies allowed his dog to eat out of it, and Ken Daneyko ate cereal out of the bowl of the cup.  

Whatever the tradition, whatever the superstition, we can rest assure new traditions will develop and change while others will always carry on.

This year brings an exciting 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs with teams such as Alex Ovechkin’s Washington Capitals and Sidney Crosby’s Pittsburgh Penguins all vying for the Cup, and I am sure whatever team wins the Cup they will have plenty of stories to tell.