“To the victor belong the spoils”, New York Senator William L. Macy famously uttered during an 1831 Congressional debate. Macy wasn’t referring to the most storied trophy in all of professional team sports, but he could’ve been.
The “spoils” in the case of the NHL is the Stanley Cup, awarded annually to the league’s title-winning team. The prestigious hardware was first introduced in 1893 and claimed by the Montreal Canadiens, first place finishers of the Amateur Hockey Association of Canada.
With a history stretching back more than 125 years, you can bet the Stanley Cup has endured its fair share of incidents, accidents, and just plain bizarro circumstances. With the NHL playoffs about to kickoff and 2019 Stanley Cup predictions rolling in, let’s take a look at a few of these memorable moments in the trophy’s history.
Life of the Party
When a team wins the NHL championship, it’s a given that the players are going to party hard. And of course, they’re going to take the Stanley Cup along with them like a trusted wingman–a great idea in theory, but we all know things have a tendency to break when partying gets out of hand.
Hall-of-Famer Mark Messier took the Stanley Cup out clubbing with teammates and fans following the Edmonton Oilers championship run in 1987. The Cup predictably suffered damage over the course of the evening and required repairs as a result.
History repeated itself in 1999 when the Dallas Stars claimed the NHL title. Stars defenseman Craig Ludwig throw a rager at his house to celebrate. Teammate Guy Carbonneau figured tossing the Stanley Cup from a deck into the pool was a fun idea–really, what could go wrong here!? Lord Stanley’s mug caromed off the edge of the pool, sustaining noticeable damage in the process.
Misplaced by Montreal
The 1907 Stanley Cup Montreal Wanderers organized a team picture with the vaunted trophy, which was somehow left behind at the home of the photographer. The photographer’s mother promptly planted geraniums in the Stanley Cup, using it as a flowerpot. Several weeks went by before officials came to take it back!
The Montreal Canadiens have won the Stanley Cup 23 times, more than any other NHL squad. They’ve had possession of Lord Stanley so often, you’d think they know darn well where the thing is. That wasn’t the case in 1924 when a vehicle of Canadiens players suffered a flat tire enroute to a celebration at the home of team owner Leo Dandurand.
The players removed the Cup from the trunk in the process of changing the tire, brilliantly setting the trophy roadside. The guest of honor hardware never made it to the victory party that day. Fortunately, Lord Stanley was still sitting by the side of the road when the embarrassed Canadiens returned to retrieve it.
Feed the Animals
Clark Gillies of 1980 champion New York Islanders had an innovative idea when he decided to share the Stanley Cup with man’s best friend. Gillies filled the trophy with dog food and treated his pup to a memorable meal.
A similar situation arose in 1994 when the other Big Apple team notched its first NHL title in 53 years. Ed Olczyk of the New York Rangers offered a Stanley Cup full of feed to a horse. To be fair, the horse was Go for Gin, that year’s Kentucky Derby winner.
When the Ottawa Senators prevailed as league champions in 1927, the Stanley Cup went home with all-time great King Clancy. Clancy found the trophy to be a fine catch-all and used it to store pencils, chewing gum, junk mail, and cigars
After the Detroit Red Wings won the NHL title in 1998, center Kris Draper thought it would be cute to photograph his young daughter in the Cup. We see how this should be a moment for the feels. However, Baby Draper took the photo-op as a “toilet training” opportunity.
A World Traveller
Since 1995, each member of the NHL championship team gets to possess the Stanley Cup for a day. This veritable hot potato of the trophy leads to it being on the road for more than 200 days a year. A designee of the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, known as the “The Keeper of the Cup”, is responsible for travelling with the Cup, always giving it the white glove treatment.
The Colorado Avalanche’s 1996 title marked the first time the Stanley Cup left North America. Future Hall-of-Famer Peter Forsberg proudly showed off the hardware in his native Sweden, first in Stockholm and then his hometown of Örnsköldsvik.