Stanley Cup holds 100 years of hockey history

June 10, 2010 9:08:27 AM PDT
The last time the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup championship was in 1961. Lord Stanley's cup holds in it more than 100 years of history for professional hockey.

The Hawks are trying to end the longest Stanley Cup drought in the NHL. The Cup itself is like no other trophy in sports. In baseball, football and basketball a new trophy is made every year. In hockey, there is only one. The current keeper of the cup is the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The coveted cup has been kissed, hoisted and treated with kid gloves. The Stanley Cup is one of a kind. It represents over a century of hockey history.

"It was first used to mark hockey championships in Canada in the late 19th century," said John Russick, Chicago History Museum.

Canada's Lord Stanley of Preston was a huge hockey fan. In the 1890s Stanley bought a $50 punch bowl in England to be used as the amateur hockey championship trophy. By 1923, the Cup became the trophy for the NHL.

Lord Stanley had some very specific rules for the Cup.

"The Stanley Cup actually goes with the team that wins. The team keeps it until the next year," Russick said.

The Cup has grown because the winning team and its players names are engraved onto the Cup. and as tradition would have it. the players get to keep the Cup and do whatever they want with it for one day.

"There are some salacious stories and charming ones, like a player had his baby christened in it. Another brought it to a family reunion," said Russick.

The last time any Blackhawks player got to take the Cup home was 1961. John Keunster is the only living sports writer who covered the Hawks winning the Cup. Game 6 of the finals was played in Detroit during an April snow storm. The Hawks won 5-1.

"After the game, went downstairs, interviewed the players. A Detroit photographer said, 'I'll get a picture of you with the Stanley Cup," said Kuenster.

The former Chicago Daily News writer still has the original photo. Eighty-five-year-old Keunster says he will never forget the Hawks' victory party at a Detroit Hotel.

"After the game, I went downstairs and interviewed the players and so forth and a Detroit photographer who knew me from the baseball beat said let me get a picture of you and Glenn Hall with the Cup," Kuenster said.

The 1961 Blackhawks are included in some of the Stanley Cup lore. A Montreal Canadiens fan apparently broke into the case where the Cup was stored at the Chicago Stadium and tried to steal it, but got caught. In the 1920s, the Canadiens accidently left the Cup on the side of the road when the players stopped to change a flat tire on their way to a victory celebration.


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