The Stanley Cup
: La Coupe Stanley
) is the championship trophy awarded annually to the National Hockey League
champion. It is the oldest existing trophy to be awarded to a professional sports franchise in North America, and the International Ice Hockey Federation
(IIHF) considers it to be one of the "most important championships available to the sport". The trophy was commissioned in 1892 as the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup
and is named after Lord Stanley of Preston
, the Governor General of Canada
, who donated it as an award to Canada's top-ranking amateur ice hockey club. The entire Stanley family supported the sport, the sons and daughters all playing and promoting the game. The first Cup was awarded in 1893 to Montreal Hockey Club
, and winners from 1893 to 1914 were determined by challenge games and league play. Professional teams first became eligible to challenge for the Stanley Cup in 1906. In 1915, the National Hockey Association
(NHA) and the Pacific Coast Hockey Association
(PCHA), the two main professional ice hockey organizations, reached a gentlemen's agreement in which their respective champions would face each other annually for the Stanley Cup. It was established as the de facto
championship trophy of the NHL in 1926 and then the de jure
NHL championship prize in 1947.
There are actually three Stanley Cups: the original bowl of the "Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup", the authenticated "Presentation Cup", and the spelling-corrected "Permanent Cup" on display at the Hockey Hall of Fame
whenever the Presentation Cup is not available. While the NHL has maintained control over the trophy itself and its associated trademarks, the NHL does not actually own the trophy but uses it by agreement with the two Canadian trustees of the cup. The NHL has registered trademarks associated with the name and likeness of the Stanley Cup, although there has been dispute as to whether the league has the right to own trademarks associated with a trophy that it does not own. (Full article...