The Stanley Cup: 10 Reasons Why It's the Greatest Trophy in All of Sports

Liz BrownsteinContributor IMay 11, 2011

The Stanley Cup: 10 Reasons Why It's the Greatest Trophy in All of Sports

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    CHICAGO - JUNE 11: Members of the Chicago Blackhawks stand with the Stanley Cup during the Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup victory parade and rally on June 11, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Widely considered the best trophy in sports, the Stanley Cup has so many one-of-a-kind details that it's difficult to make a case against it.

    Yes, other trophies might be bigger, more expensive or even wearable, but what can top the regal-and-unforgettable history that is the Stanley Cup?

    To follow is my list of 10 reasons why the Stanley Cup, hockey's Holy Grail, is the trophy of all trophies in sports. The accompanying photos will be a countdown of the last 10 Stanley Cup champions, starting with the Blackhawks, the 2010 champions.

Only One Stanley Cup

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    DETROIT - JUNE 12:  The Pittsburgh Penguins pose with the Stanley Cup following the Penguins victory over the Detroit Red Wings in Game Seven of the 2009 NHL Stanley Cup Finals at Joe Louis Arena on June 12, 2009 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Bruce Ben
    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    There is only one Stanley Cup that is currently in use, which means that, unlike most other sports, a new trophy is not crafted each and every year.

    The Stanley Cup that is passed from one year's champions to the next not only brings with it triumph, but the history of all past winners.

    The Stanley Cup champions are also rewarded with championship rings, however, there is only one Stanley Cup trophy, and the time that the player spends with the trophy is absolutely unforgettable and an important right of passage to becoming champions.

Engraved Names

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    DETROIT - JUNE 06:  Nicklas Lidstrom #5 of the Detroit Red Wings waves to the crowd during a parade to celebrate winning the 2008 Stanley Cup on June 6, 2008 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Find me one other trophy that records all of the past winners on the trophy directly. You can't? Of course not, only the Stanley Cup does this.

    This is arguably one of the strongest reasons for why the Stanley Cup is one of the best, if not the best trophy in sports.

    Every winning team, along with the coaches and staff members, have their names engraved on Lord Stanley. Aside from hoisting the Stanley Cup, having your name engraved on one of its rings forever has to be one of the most unique practices in sport celebrations. 

Historically Honored

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    ANAHEIM, CA - JUNE 06:  Scott Niedermayer #27 of the Anaheim Ducks hoists the Stanley Cup after his team's victory over the Ottawa Senators during Game Five on June 6, 2007 at Honda Center in Anaheim, California. The Ducks defeated the Senators 6-2 to win
    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    The Stanley Cup has in fact been around much longer than the NHL itself, considering it was used first in 1893, and the NHL's inaugural season was in 1917-1918.

    When the Cup was first presented as a prize for the best amateur hockey team, all of the rules that Lord Stanley set are still in effect today. Some rules included that it be a competition trophy, meaning it passed from winner to winner, and the requirement of engraving the winning teams' names in it.

Passing the Trophy Tradition

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    RALEIGH, NC - JUNE 21:  Eric Staal hoists the Stanley Cup overhead from the podium during a 'Hail To Our Champions' parade for the Carolina Hurricanes on June 21, 2006 to celebrate the team's Stanley Cup finals victory over the Edmonton Oilers in Raleigh,
    Grant Halverson/Getty Images

    Even if other trophies allow each player to have a day to do with it as they please, the Stanley Cup is the one, and only one, that is passed team to team and as well as within the team.

    Players have had children baptized in the Cup, they have kissed it, they have drank out of it and they have taken it to their favorite places or restaurants.

    Since only one trophy is being passed, it makes the players' and staff members' day with Stanley that much more magical.

Originated from Royalty

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    TAMPA, FL - JUNE 7:  Martin St. Louis #26 of the Tampa Bay Lightning holds the Stanley Cup above his head after the victory over the Calgary Flames in Game seven of the NHL Stanley Cup Finals on June 7, 2004 at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, Florida.
    Brian Bahr/Getty Images

    Lord Stanley was appointed by Queen Victoria as the sixth Governor of Canada in 1888 and quickly became a hockey fan. Once both of his sons began playing ice hockey, Lord Stanley himself ended up getting involved.

    Lord Stanley helped form the Ontario Hockey Association and was eventually convinced by his sons to donate a trophy. Thus, the Stanley Cup was born and presented.

    The Cup was originally donated as a trophy for the best team in the amateur hockey league, but was eventually transitioned to be the ultimate prize in the National Hockey League.

Presented Immediately After the Win

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - JUNE 9:  The New Jersey Devils celebrate winning the Stanley Cup after defeating the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim 3-0 in game seven of the 2003 Stanley Cup Finals at Continental Airlines Arena on June 9, 2003 in East Rutherford, New Jerse
    Elsa/Getty Images

    In other sports, the champions are presented with the trophies in a ceremony, often later, after celebrations ensue. Not in hockey. In the NHL, the Cup is presented to the winning team fresh off the victory, no time to even remove skates.

    The Cup is given to the winning team's captain, so there's no need for the Gatorade shower or any need to change clothes or any other gimmick.

    Hockey does it right. The players are left in their jerseys, skates and beards for the memorable presentation of Lord Stanley.

Recognizable and Iconic

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    DETROIT, MI - JUNE 13:  Steve Yzerman #19 of the Detroit Red Wings and his daughter Isabella celebrate with the Stanley Cup trophy after defeating the Carolina Hurricanes during game 5 of the 2002 Stanley Cup Finals on June 13, 2002 at Joe Louis Arena in
    Tom Pidgeon/Getty Images

    Pull 10 strangers off of the street, show them a picture of the Stanley Cup, and I bet at least seven or eight would be able to tell you what the trophy is or what sport it is associated with. 

    Most other trophies, aside from the green jacket given to the Master's winner and the Olympic gold medal, are not nearly as iconic as the Stanley Cup.

    For a sport that has struggled through criticism regarding aggression and fought through a lockout, the Stanley Cup has always been hockey's shining beacon of light.

Most Difficult to Win

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    390458 02: Colorado Avalanche winger Ville Nieminen of Finland shows the Stanley Cup to fans during a victory rally at the City and County Building June 11, 2001 in downtown Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Michael Smith/Getty Images)
    Michael Smith/Getty Images

    Let's get one thing straight. I am not saying that hockey is the only physically demanding sport. I am well aware that it is in good company with other sports, however, allow me to explain.

    When a regular season alone is 82 games long and a postseason can last for up to seven games in each round, hockey is not for the weak, either physically or mentally.

    Both the regular and postseasons are exhausting, and when you add one after another, it's a long year for the NHL players, especially the champions who last until that final championship game and still find the energy to triumph.

Size of the Cup

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    10 Jun 2000:  Scott Stevens #4 of the New Jersey Devils hoists the Stanley Cup trophy after winning Game 6 of the NHL Stanley Cup finals over the Dallas Stars at Reunion Arena in Dallas, Texas. The Devils won 2-1 in the second overtime period. DIGITAL IMA
    Brian Bahr/Getty Images

    As amazing and memorable as Olympic medals are, unless you earn a large number of them, they are still lacking in the size department. And you know what some people say: bigger is sometimes better. Why else would first-place trophies usually be bigger than third or fourth-place trophies?

    It has been said Stanley weighs almost 35 pounds, except when you lift it over your head. Standing an impressive 35.25 inches tall, this beauty of a trophy demands attention when it is in a room.

Only Two Years Have Passed Without the Cup

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    19 Jun 1999: Mike Modano #9 of the Dallas Stars carries the Stanley Cup on the ice after the Stanley Cup game against the Buffalo Sabres at the Marine Midland Arena in Buffalo, New York. The Stars defeated the Sabres 2-1 in triple overtime.
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    For such a momentous event, like presenting the Stanley Cup to the champions, it would have to take a disaster to prevent it from happening. Events of this caliber have only happened twice in the history of the Stanley Cup.

    The first time was in 1919, which was a year without Stanley because of the dangers of the Spanish Flu Epidemic. The second, and only other, time was in 2005 after the 2004-2005 NHL lockout.

    When only two years have passed without the presentation of the Cup, it's clearly an important and unique trophy, and arguably the best in sports.