The Stanley Cup is a trophy awarded annually to the playoff champion club of the National Hockey League (NHL) ice hockey league. It was donated by the Governor General of Canada Lord Stanley of Preston in 1892, and is the oldest professional sports trophy in North America. Inscribed the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup, the trophy was first awarded to Canada's amateur ice hockey clubs who won the trophy as the result of challenge games and league play. Professional clubs came to dominate the competition in the early years of the twentieth century, and in 1913 the two major professional ice hockey organizations, the National Hockey Association (NHA) (forerunner of the NHL) and the Pacific Coast Hockey Association (PCHA), reached a gentlemen's agreement in which their respective champions would face each other in an annual series for the Stanley Cup. After a series of league mergers and folds, it became the de facto championship trophy of the NHL in 1926, though it was nominally still subject to external challenge. After 1947, the Cup became the de jure NHL championship prize.
From 1914 to the end of the 2019 season, the trophy has been won 101 times. 25 teams have won the cup, 20 of which are still active in the NHL. Prior to that, the challenge cup was held by nine teams. The Montreal Canadiens have won the Stanley Cup 24 times and made the finals an additional ten times. There were two years when the Stanley Cup was not awarded: 1919, because of the Spanish flu pandemic, and 2005, because of the NHL lockout.
Challenge Cup era (1893–1914)
The origins of the Challenge era come from the method of play of the Amateur Hockey Association of Canada prior to 1893. From 1887 to 1893, the league did not play a round-robin format, but rather challenges between teams of the association that year, with the winner of the series being the 'interim' champion, with the final challenge winner becoming the league champion for the year. The Stanley Cup kept the tradition going, but added league championships as another way that a team could win the trophy. If a team in the same league as the current champion won the league championship, it would then inherit the Cup, without a challenge. The only time this rule was not followed was in 1904, when the Ottawa Senators club withdrew from its league, the CAHL. The trustees ruled that the Cup stayed with Ottawa, instead of the CAHL league champion.
During the challenge cup period, none of the leagues that played for the trophy had a formal playoff system to decide their respective champions; whichever team finished in first place after the regular season won the league title. A playoff would only be played if teams tied for first-place in their leagues at the end of the regular season. Challenge games were played until 1912 at any time during hockey season by challenges approved and/or ordered by the Stanley Cup trustees. In 1912, Cup trustees declared that it was only to be defended at the end of the champion team's regular season.
This table lists the outcome of all Stanley Cup wins, including successful victories and defenses in challenges, and league championships for the challenge era.
^ A. Although the Montreal Victorias won the AHAC title in 1895, the Stanley Cup trustees had already accepted a challenge from the 1894 Cup champion Montreal HC and Queen's University. As a compromise, the trustees decided that if the Montreal HC won the challenge match, the Victorias would become the Stanley Cup champions. The Montreals eventually won the game, 5–1, and their crosstown rivals were awarded the Cup.
^ B. Intended to be a best-of-three series, Ottawa Capitals withdrew their challenge after the first game.
^ C. The January 31 (a Saturday) game was tied 2–2 at midnight and the Mayor of Westmount refused to allow play to continue on Sunday. The game was played on February 2 (a Monday) and the January 31 game was considered to be void.
^ D. For most of 1904, the Ottawa Hockey Club was not affiliated with any league.
^ E. The Montreal Wanderers were disqualified as the result of a dispute. After game one ended tied at the end of regulation, 5–5, the Wanderers refused to play overtime with the current referee, and then subsequently refused to play the next game of the series in Ottawa.
^ F. During the series, it was revealed that the Victoria club had not filed a formal challenge. A letter arrived from the Stanley Cup trustees on March 17, stating that the trustees would not let the Stanley Cup travel west, as they did not consider Victoria a proper challenger because they had not formally notified the trustees. However, on March 18, Trustee William Foran stated that it was a misunderstanding. PCHA president Frank Patrick had not filed a challenge because he had expected Emmett Quinn, president of the NHA to make all of the arrangements in his role as hockey commissioner, whereas the trustees thought they were being deliberately ignored. In any case, all arrangements had been ironed out and the Victoria challenge was accepted.
- Coleman, Charles L. (1964). The Trail of the Stanley Cup, vol. 1, 1893–1926 inc. Sherbrooke, Quebec: Sherbrooke Daily Record Company Limited.
- Montreal Gazette
- Ottawa Citizen
- Ottawa Journal
- Winnipeg Tribune
NHA/NHL vs. PCHA/WCHL/WHL champions (1915–1926)
Several days after the Victoria Aristocrats – Toronto Hockey Club series, Stanley Cup trustee William Foran wrote to NHA president Emmett Quinn that the trustees are "perfectly satisfied to allow the representatives of the three pro leagues (NHA, PCHA, and Maritime) to make all arrangements each season as to the series of matches to be played for the Cup." The Maritime league did not challenge for cup in 1914, and folded after the 1915 season. The Stanley Cup championship finals alternated between the East and the West each year, with games played alternately under NHA or PCHA rules. The Cup trustees agreed to this new arrangement, because after the Allan Cup became the highest prize for amateur hockey teams in Canada, the trustees had become dependent on the top two professional leagues to bolster the prominence of the trophy.[incomplete short citation] After the New Westminster Royal moved to Portland in the summer of 1914 becoming the Portland Rosebuds, an American-based team, the trustees issued a statement that the Cup was no longer for the best team in Canada, but now for the best team in the world. In March 1916, the Rosebuds became the first American team to play in the Stanley Cup championship final.[incomplete short citation] In 1917, the Seattle Metropolitans became the first American team to win the Cup. After that season, the NHA suspended operations and the National Hockey League (NHL) took its place.
The format for the Stanley Cup championship changed in 1922, with the creation of the Western Canada Hockey League (WCHL). Now three leagues competed for the Cup and this necessitated a semi-final series between two league champions, with the third having a bye directly to the final. In 1924, the PCHA folded and only the Vancouver and Victoria teams entered the WCHL. With the loss of the PCHA, the championship reverted to a single series. After their win in 1925, the Victoria Cougars became the last team outside the NHL to win the Stanley Cup. For the 1925–26 season the WCHL was renamed the Western Hockey League (WHL). With the Victoria Cougars' loss in 1926, it would be the last time a non-NHL team competed for the Stanley Cup.
- Numbers in parentheses in the table indicate the number of times that team has appeared in the Stanley Cup Finals, as well as each respective teams' Stanley Cup Finals record to date.
NHL champions (since 1927)
When the WHL folded in 1926 its remaining assets were acquired by the NHL, making it the only remaining league with teams competing for the Cup. Other leagues and clubs have issued challenges, but from that year forward no non-NHL team has played for it, leading it to become the de facto championship trophy of the NHL. In 1947 the NHL reached an agreement with trustees P. D. Ross and Cooper Smeaton to grant control of the Cup to the NHL, allowing the league itself to reject challenges from other leagues that may have wished to play for the Cup. A 2006 Ontario Superior Court case found that the trustees had gone against Lord Stanley's conditions in the 1947 agreement. The NHL has agreed to allow other teams to play for the Cup should the league not be operating, as was the case in the 2004–05 NHL lockout.
Since 1927 the league's playoff format, deciding which teams advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals, has changed multiple times. In some systems that were previously used, playoff teams were seeded regardless of division or conference. From 1942 to 1967 the Cup was competed for by the league's six teams, also known as the Original Six. After the 1967 NHL Expansion, the Stanley Cup was competed for by the winners of each conference. Since 1982 the Finals have been played between the league's conference playoff champions. As of the 2019 Stanley Cup Finals, the Campbell/Western champions have gone a combined 109–97 in the finals against the Wales/Eastern champions (winning 20 of 37 series).
- Numbers in parentheses in the table indicate the number of times that team has appeared in the Stanley Cup Finals, as well as each respective team's Stanley Cup Finals record to date.
Challenge Cup era (1893–1914)
Legend: SC = successful Stanley Cup challenge or defense of championship (win); UC = unsuccessful Stanley Cup challenge or defense of championship (loss); Years in bold denote a Stanley Cup win.
|Ottawa HC||17||2||19||.895||1894, 1903 (2), 1904 (4), 1905 (3), 1906 (2), 1906, 1909, 1910 (2), 1911 (3)|
|Montreal Wanderers||10||2||12||.833||1904, 1906 (2), 1907, 1907, 1908 (5), 1910 (2)|
|Winnipeg Victorias||6||5||11||.545||1896 (2), 1896, 1899, 1900, 1901 (2), 1902 (2), 1902, 1903|
|Montreal Victorias||6||2||8||.750||1895, 1896, 1896, 1897 (2), 1898, 1899, 1903|
|Montreal Shamrocks||5||1||6||.833||1899 (2), 1900 (3), 1901|
|Montreal HC||5||0||5||1.000||1893, 1894, 1895, 1902, 1903|
|Quebec Bulldogs||4||0||4||1.000||1912 (2), 1913 (2)|
|Rat Portage/Kenora Thistles||2||3||5||.400||1903, 1905, 1907 (2), 1907|
|Toronto Blueshirts||2||0||2||1.000||1914 (2)|
|Queen's University||0||3||3||.000||1895, 1899, 1906|
|Brandon Wheat Cities||0||2||2||.000||1904, 1907|
|Edmonton HC||0||2||2||.000||1908, 1910|
|Galt HC||0||2||2||.000||1910, 1911|
|Winnipeg Maple Leafs||0||2||2||.000||1901, 1908|
The following 16 teams unsuccessfully challenged for a Stanley Cup only once: Berlin Dutchmen (1910), Dawson City Nuggets (1905), Halifax Crescents (1900), Moncton Victorias (1912), Montreal Canadiens (1914), New Glasgow Cubs (1906), Ottawa Capitals (1897), Ottawa Victorias (1908), Port Arthur Bearcats (1911), Smiths Falls (1906), Sydney Millionaires (1913), Toronto Marlboros (1904), Toronto Professionals (1908), Toronto Wellingtons (1902), Victoria Aristocrats (1914), Winnipeg Rowing Club (1904).
Stanley Cup Finals era (since 1915)
In the sortable table below, teams are ordered first by number of appearances, then by number of wins, and finally by alphabetical order. In the "Years of appearance" column, bold years indicate winning Stanley Cup Finals appearances. Unless marked otherwise, teams played in the NHL exclusively at the time they competed for the Stanley Cup.
Four active teams have yet to make a Stanley Cup Finals appearance. Two of these teams have remained in the same location since their inceptions:
- Columbus Blue Jackets (19 seasons, 6 playoffs)
- Minnesota Wild (19 seasons, 10 playoffs, 1 division title)
The other two teams have relocated and have not made the Finals in either location:
- Atlanta Thrashers (11 seasons, 1 playoff, 1 division title) / Winnipeg Jets (9 seasons, 4 playoffs)
- Winnipeg Jets (original team) (17 seasons, 11 playoffs) / Arizona Coyotes (23 seasons, 9 playoffs, 1 division title)
Five relocated teams that have won the Stanley Cup in their current locations and never appeared in the Finals in their former locations:
- Quebec Nordiques (16 seasons, 9 playoffs, 2 division titles) – won 2 Stanley Cups as Colorado Avalanche
- Kansas City Scouts (2 seasons, never made playoff contention)/Colorado Rockies (6 seasons, 1 playoff) – won 3 Stanley Cups as New Jersey Devils
- California Golden Seals (9 seasons, 2 playoffs)/Cleveland Barons (2 seasons, never made playoff contention) – merged with Minnesota North Stars who lost twice in the Finals then won the Stanley Cup once as Dallas Stars
- Atlanta Flames (8 seasons, 6 playoffs) – won Stanley Cup once as Calgary Flames
- Hartford Whalers (18 seasons, 8 playoffs, 1 division title) – won Stanley Cup once as Carolina Hurricanes
Listed after the team name is the name of the affiliated league(s) when the team competed for the Stanley Cup. A bold year denotes a Stanley Cup win.
|Appearances||Team||Wins||Losses||Win %||Years of Appearance|
|5||Ottawa Senators (NHA/NHL)||4||1||.800||1915, 1920, 1921, 1923, 1927|
|4||Vancouver Millionaires (PCHA/WCHL)||1||3||.250||1915, 1918, 1921, 1922|
|3||Montreal Maroons (NHL)||2||1||.667||1926, 1928, 1935|
|3[a]||Seattle Metropolitans (PCHA)||1||1[a]||.500||1917, 1919[a], 1920|
|2||Victoria Cougars (WCHL/WHL)||1||1||.500||1925, 1926|
|1||Portland Rosebuds (PCHA)||0||1||.000||1916|
|1||Edmonton Eskimos (WCHL)||0||1||.000||1923|
|1||Calgary Tigers (WCHL)||0||1||.000||1924|
- a The Montreal Canadiens and the Seattle Metropolitans appearance totals include the 1919 Stanley Cup Finals that ended with a no-decision because of the Spanish flu epidemic. It is not considered an official series win or loss by either team.
- b The franchise known today as the Toronto Maple Leafs won the Cup in 1918 as the Toronto Hockey Club (later engraved on the Stanley Cup as the Toronto Arenas in 1947), and in 1922 as the Toronto St. Patricks.
- c The Chicago Blackhawks were known as the Chicago Black Hawks prior to the 1986–87 season.
- d The Dallas Stars totals include two series losses as the Minnesota North Stars.
- e The Anaheim Ducks totals include one series loss as the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.
- f The modern Ottawa Senators (1992–present) are the namesake of the original Senators (1883–1934).
- "All-Time Stanley Cup Champions". NHL.com. National Hockey League. Retrieved September 13, 2018.
- "Stanley Cup-winning goals". National Hockey League. Archived from the original on April 12, 2009. Retrieved April 18, 2008.
- "STC List of winners of the Stanley Cup". LegendsofHockey.net. Retrieved April 18, 2008.
- "Stanley Cup Playoffs – Winners and Finalists Since 1893". The Sports Network. Archived from the original on May 2, 2008. Retrieved April 18, 2008.
- Coleman, Charles (1964). The Trail of the Stanley Cup vol. 1. Sherbrooke Daily Record Company Ltd., NHL.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- Coleman, Charles (1966). The Trail of the Stanley Cup vol. 2. Sherbrooke Daily Record Company Ltd., NHL.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- Coleman, Charles (1969). The Trail of the Stanley Cup vol. 3. Sherbrooke Daily Record Company Ltd., NHL.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- Diamond, Dan; Zweig, Eric; Duplacey, James (2003). The Ultimate Prize: The Stanley Cup. Andrews McMeel Publishing. ISBN 0-7407-3830-5.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- Diamond, Dan, ed. (1992). The Official National Hockey League Stanley Cup Centennial Book. Firefly Books. ISBN 1-895565-15-4.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- Holzman, Morey (2002). Deceptions and Doublecross. Dundurn Press. ISBN 1-55002-413-2.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- McCarthy, Dave, ed. (2008). The National Hockey League Official Guide & Record Book/2009. Dan Diamond Associates. ISBN 978-1-894801-14-0.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- Podnieks, Andre (2004). Lord Stanley's Cup. Hockey Hall of Fame. Triumph Books. ISBN 1-55168-261-3.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- "Stanley Cup Fun Facts". NHL.com. Archived from the original on August 10, 2010. Retrieved April 18, 2008.
- Podnieks 2004, p. 20.
- "Stanley Cup Winners: Quebec Bulldogs 1911–12". Hockey Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on June 10, 2008. Retrieved April 18, 2008.
- Diamond, Zweig & Duplacey 2003, p. 19.
- "Champions of the World". Winnipeg Tribune. February 15, 1896. p. 1.
- "Winnipeg Men Win". Ottawa Journal. February 15, 1896. p. 7.
- "After the puck". The Globe. March 2, 1896. p. 06.
- "Victorias Always Win". The Globe and Mail. February 20, 1901. p. 10.
- "Championship Goes To Kenora Thistles". Winnipeg Tribune. February 19, 1907. p. 6.
- "Vics Lost First Stanley Cup Game to Wanderers". Ottawa Citizen. January 10, 1908. p. 8.
- "Edmonton 7–6". The Montreal Gazette. December 31, 1908. p. 2. Retrieved April 23, 2017.
- "Ottawas Smothered Galt in Stanley Cup Match". The Ottawa Citizen. January 6, 1910. p. 9. Retrieved April 23, 2017.
- "Sydney Not in Quebec's Class". The Montreal Gazette. March 9, 1913. p. 14. Retrieved April 22, 2017.
- "Torontos Win Championship of NHA From Canadiens". The Toronto Sunday World. March 12, 1914. p. 8. Retrieved April 23, 2017.
- "Torontos Beat Victoria 2 to 1–Roughest Game of Year". The Toronto Sunday World. March 20, 1914. p. 8. Retrieved April 23, 2017.
- Coleman 1964, p. 82. sfn error: multiple targets (2×): CITEREFColeman1964 (help)
- "Stanley Cup Contest May Not Be for the Mug, After All is Said". Saskatoon Phoenix. March 18, 1914. p. 8.
- "A Tempest In a Teapot". Montreal Daily Mail. March 19, 1914. p. 9.
- "Stanley Cup Muddle Cleared Up". Toronto Globe and Mail. March 19, 1914.
- "Three Pro Leagues as to Stanley Cup". Toronto World. March 25, 1914. p. 8.
- Diamond, Zweig & Duplacey 2003, p. 20.
- Diamond 1993, p. 45. sfn error: no target: CITEREFDiamond1993 (help)
- Diamond 1993, p. 46. sfn error: no target: CITEREFDiamond1993 (help)
- "Stanley Cup Winners: Seattle Metropolitans 1916–17". Hockey Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on October 20, 2012. Retrieved July 11, 2006.
- Podnieks 2004, p. 51.
- Diamond, Zweig & Duplacey 2003, pp. 20–21.
- Diamond, Zweig & Duplacey 2003, p. 21.
- "Stanley Cup Winners: Victoria Cougars 1924–25". Hockey Hall of Fame. Retrieved July 11, 2006.
- See Holzman2002. The Toronto NHL franchise (not using any nickname) was operated by the Toronto Arena Company, but only became a legal entity in the fall of 1918 as the Toronto Arena Hockey Club.
- Diamond, Zweig & Duplacey 2003, p. 40.
- "Court:Non-NHL teams could vie for Cup". TSN. February 7, 2006. Archived from the original on December 16, 2007. Retrieved April 18, 2008.
- "Amateurs taking NHL to court to play for Cup". ESPN. April 13, 2005. Retrieved October 13, 2007.
- Holzman 2002.