April 19, 2007

The Stovepipe Cup

The Stanley Cup is the symbol of hockey. It's image is more powerful than any memory of Bobby Orr flying through the air, Wayne Gretzky pausing just for a second before unleashing a slap shot, or Patrick Roy's last second glove save. The only image as powerful as the Stanley Cup would be that of pick up game on a frozen pond.

While it may be hockey's enduring symbol, the Stanley Cup has undergone several significant changes in size and shape over the years. Though Lord Stanley of Preston donated his Cup in 1892, the Cup as we know it today only dates back to 1957.

The original Stanley Cup consisted of nothing more than the bowl. The original bowl sits in glass-encased display at the Hockey Hall of Fame. It was retired in 1970. A replica now sits upon the familiar trophy.

As more and more teams began winning the Cup, some teams added a ring to the base of the Cup, as suggested originally by Lord Stanley himself. Up until the 1920s, the Cup looked pretty much like what the top third of today's Cup.

Which brings us to the Stovepipe Cup. From the years of 1927-1947, the winning team would add their ring nearest to the bowl, pushing down the previous winners. The Stanley Cup was a long, narrow trophy, looking quite ridiculous to more modern fans, as if it were a stove's chimney pipe.

The Cup reached it's limit after 1946, when the victorious Montreal Canadiens could not engrave their names or add another to the Stanley Cup.

The years immediately following World War II were the most interesting for the Stanley Cup. Trustee Cooper Smeaton wrote to his colleague P.D. Ross "As you know, the Cup now rests on a very ugly looking, elongated base and it occurred to me that it might be possible to get Henry Birks for instance, to design a nice big base which would permit space for sufficient shields."

Ross' reply was "why not have Birks make a new base, with a receptacle in the base for a "golden book" to record all the past and prospective winnings of the Cup? The book would only need to be of moderate size, a hundred pages or so, with the base detachable from the Cup of course, for purpose of transportation."

Fortunately the NHL did not approve that idea. Instead, in 1947, they hired Carl Poul Petersen, a world famous silversmith who moved from Denmark to Montreal, to redesign the Stanley Cup as we now know it.


Hutch said...

The Stanley Cup from 1947 is NOT how we know it now. Take a close look at the cup from 1947 to 1957 you will see the rings are narrow at the top and widen toward it's base. Plus the top of the cup was removable as seen in the famous video of Rocket Richard removing the top of the cup in order to drink champagne. The Stanley Cup as we know it now was introduced in 1957.

Hotstoveclub said...

The most beautiful trophy in sports and the hardest to win.