How many actual Stanley Cups are there?

The Stanley Cup is one of the most iconic trophies in all of sports. As the championship trophy for the National Hockey League (NHL), having your name engraved on the Cup is the ultimate goal for players and teams across North America. But over the long history of the trophy, some interesting facts have emerged surrounding the number of Stanley Cups in existence. In this deep dive article, we’ll explore the answers to common questions like how many Stanley Cups are there, do teams get to keep the Cup, and how the trophy has evolved over time.

The Origins of the Stanley Cup

Lord Stanley of Preston, Canada’s sixth Governor General, first donated the trophy that came to be known as the Stanley Cup in 1892. At the time, it was awarded to the top amateur hockey club in Canada, which was the Montreal Hockey Club that year. Stanley purchased the trophy for 10 guineas (around $50 at the time) and appointed two trustees to oversee its annual awarding.

The first Stanley Cup was actually not a cup at all, but a decorative silver bowl. It measured 7.5 inches high and 11.5 inches across. Engraved on one side was “From Stanley of Preston for Hockey Challenge Cup”. On the other side it read “Montreal AAA 1893”, commemorating the first champions.

Transition to the National Hockey Association

In 1909, the Stanley Cup became the championship trophy for professional clubs under the National Hockey Association (which became the NHL in 1917). The Montreal Wanderers were the first professional team to win the Cup. This heralded a new era where top pro teams from across Canada would compete annually for the trophy.

As the Stanley Cup grew in prominence with pro teams, Lord Stanley’s original bowl trophy was eventually retired. Its diminutive size made it too difficult to engrave larger team rosters. So in 1915, the Montreal Canadiens team engraved the names of their players onto the cylindrical base of the trophy.

The Modern Stanley Cup

In 1948, the NHL made the decision to redesign the Stanley Cup once more. The newer trophy was produced by Montreal silversmith Carl Petersen. He crafted the iconic tiered shape still used today, complete with a five band barrel used for engraving the names of team members and executives.

This iteration stood at a much more impressive 35.25 inches tall and had a diameter of 11.5 inches. The bands were filled with engravings of old winners, so no existing names were lost in the redesign.

Key Details of the Modern Stanley Cup

  • Weighs 34.5 lb
  • Made of silver and nickel alloy
  • Has a tiered shape with 5 bands
  • Holds 13 years worth of winning team names
  • Valued at around $650,000

Do Teams Get to Keep the Cup?

Winning the Stanley Cup is a dream for all hockey players – but it turns out no team actually gets to keep the trophy permanently. Since 1893, the Stanley Cup has always remained under the care of its trustees. The current Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto has responsibility for the Cup.

Each year, the presentation Cup (the original trophy) is passed to the champions. But it must be returned quickly so it can be prepared for the next winners. Modern franchise agreements only allow teams 100 days with the trophy over the summer.

Replica Stanley Cups

Teams don’t go home empty-handed, however. Since 1992/93, the winners have also received a commemorative replica Stanley Cup produced by Montreal silversmith Louise St. Jacques. This is a nearly identical copy that teams can keep to display in their offices and bring to events with fans.

The replica stands 34″ tall and weighs 22 lb. It’s engraved with all the same names as the original Cup that year. The replicas are housed in display cases and estimated to be worth around $30,000.

How Many Cups Have There Been?

With the original 1892 trophy retired and new ones introduced along the way, just how many Stanley Cups have there been in total? Here is a quick overview:

Key Stanley Cup Trophies Over Time

Trophy Years Used
Original silver bowl 1893 – 1907
Second enlarged bowl 1908 – 1947
Modern Cup 1948 – present

So in summary, there have been 3 main Stanley Cup trophies awarded since the tournament began in 1893. The original bowl was retired in 1907, while a larger second version was used until 1947. Only the current Cup has been awarded since 1948.

Total Number of Unique Cups

Factor in the commemorative replica Cups, and here is the total Stanley Cup count:

  • 3 main presentation Cups (original, 1908, current)
  • 1 replica Cup produced each year since 1992/93 = 30 replicas
  • Total count = 33 Stanley Cup trophies

Do Teams Get Their Name on the Cup Forever?

Having your name engraved on the iconic Stanley Cup is a crowning achievement for NHL players and executives. But as new teams and players earn the honor each year, space becomes tight on the historic trophy. So how long do engraving stay on Lord Stanley’s mug?

Currently, the bands on the Cup can hold 13 years worth of winning teams. Each year, when a new champion is crowned, the oldest band of names is removed and shipped to the Hockey Hall of Fame. At the Hall, the ring is put on display honoring past champions.

So technically, no name stays on the Cup forever. But the removed bands are carefully preserved to represent an important era in the trophy’s history. All information is maintained in an official Stanley Cup ledger as well.

Other Stanley Cup Facts

Beyond just the number and history of Cups themselves, there are some other interesting facts surrounding hockey’s top trophy:

  • The Stanley Cup is the oldest professional sports trophy, first awarded in 1893
  • It takes around 10 hours to engrave a team’s name after each win
  • The Cup has been lost and damaged multiple times, requiring repairs
  • Players traditionally drink champagne from the bowl after winning
  • It has been to the top of mountains, bottom of pools, parades worldwide

Conclusion

The Stanley Cup is more than just a trophy – it’s a piece of hockey history passed down through decades of dramatic finishes, overtime winners, and championship teams. While no one team can hold onto the Cup forever, having your name engraved even briefly is an amazing accomplishment.

Modern pro hockey has seen around 33 incarnations of the famed trophy awarded since 1892. Lord Stanley’s original silver bowl has grown into the iconic multi-tiered Cup recognizable across sport today. Millions of fans watch each year to see their team added to this legendary piece of hockey lore.

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