That time Teemu Selanne filled Stanley’s generous bowl with scotch and instructed his friends to plunge a glass. That time Michael Ryder dropped it but it wasn’t his fault. That time when….
If only the greatest trophy in all sports could talk.
The Stanley Cup may be mute, but we asked his interpreter, keeper of the Cup Mike Bolt, to give us a tour of hockey’s shiny prize and point out all of the dents and spelling errors that give this 35-pound beauty its character.
Party-crasher Bolt has spent more than 20 years with the Hockey Hall of Fame, the last 17 as a white-gloved Cup keeper under Philip Pritchard.
Here are 25 fun facts we learned from our 15-minute Periscope interview.
1. It started off as a bowl, purchased by Lord Stanley in 1892, and was first awarded to the Montreal AAA (Amateur Athletic Association) in 1893. That engraving was actually squeezed in years later, on an upper-middle ring.
2. The Cup’s original retail value: $48.67.
3. The 1907 Montreal Wanderers were the first team to have their names inscribed on the Cup — inside the bowl. The second team to have their names etched on it was the 1915 Vancouver Millionaires.
4. Because the trophy started out as an amateur award called the Challenge Cup, some years (1903, 1905) have multiple winners as it got challenged for and passed around like a boxing or wrestling belt. Teams had to accept the challenge or forfeit the Cup.
5. The bulkier bottom of the Cup is made up of five bands, each of which can list 13 teams.
6. All of the blank engraving spots on the Cup will be full after 2017. The Cup will remain unchanged until we have a 2018 champion, at which point the top ring will go to the Hockey Hall of Fame and a new ring will be added to the bottom.
7. Rings are retired and the Cup does not just keep growing bigger and bigger because Bryan Trottier once said it was the perfect size and weight to lift over your head. (Also, in its travel case, Stanley weighs 90 pounds and airlines won’t accept luggage over 100 pounds.)
8. The team name of the 1980-81 New York “Ilanders” is misspelled on the Cup. Same goes for the 1962-63 Toronto Maple “Leaes.” It was never fixed.
9. As the Cup gets used heavily in the summer, hot-potatoing from player to player, it gets washed in the shower with soap and water–much like most non-baby humans–or sometimes even out in the player’s driveway with a garden hose.
10. It only gets polished once or twice a year. Frequent polishing can tarnish silver.
11. The Michael Ryder Cup Incident of 2011 wasn’t Ryder’s fault. “It was somebody out in Newfoundland that didn’t know how to set up a table,” says Bolt. “Accidents do happen.” But it left quite the dent.
12. George Parros left his impression on the Cup when he stumbled off a stage. The Ducks enforcer didn’t drop the Cup, but he did nick it up pretty good on a table.
13. The Cup gets lost in transit an average of one or two times a year, usually failing to make a connecting flight. “Percentage-wise, that’s pretty good,” Bolt says. “The Cup probably does 300 flights a year.”
14. Cup parties used to rage around the clock, but now the NHL has slapped a curfew on them, stating: “Nothing good ever happens after midnight.”
15. Jeff Carter urged Bolt to let him keep the Cup later, even though he had it at his house from 8 a.m. to midnight, but Bolt talked him out of it: “Depends how sober they are, to be honest with you.”
16. Martin Brodeur enjoyed one of the more intimate days with the Cup, with just 10 guests, including Bolt. “Went out for a boat ride, beers by the pool, just kicking back… at his cottage.”
17. Repeat winners, like the L.A. Kings, tend to make their second day with the Cup “more about themselves than the community,” avoiding a hectic schedule.
18. Peter Pocklington put his father’s name on the Cup in 1988. His father had nothing to do with the Oilers, so the league X’d it out after the fact.
19. “A bunch” of winners have their names misspelled on the Cup — Bob Gainey, Jacques Plante, Ted Lindsay — and the mistakes remain. “You don’t go back and change history,” Bolt explains.
20. Bolt had to break the news to Chicago’s Kris “Vertseeg” that his name was misspelled on the Cup. “He was [in Toronto] with the Leafs. I called him, and he didn’t believe me,” Bolt remembers. “Now he’s part of Stanley Cup lore.” That one was later fixed.
21. People eat and drink everything outta this sucker. Bolt rhymes off poutine, spaghetti and meatballs, ice cream, margaritas, cereal, sushi, chocolate milk, beer, champagne, vodka, whiskey, scotch…
22. Stop. Who filled this with scotch? “Teemu,” Bolt smiles. “The Finns know how to fire them back.”
23. The biggest myth about the Cup, Bolt says, is that the keepers don’t travel with the real thing or that the players don’t get the real one. There is a replica that lives at the Hall of Fame, but the real deal does all the travelling.
24. Except! The original bowl lives in the HHOF. It’s a replica up top.
25. The 1955-56 Canadiens, who predate both Cosmo Kramer and Sir Mix-A-Lot, have “ASS MAN” engraved under winners. Later the engravers figured out a better short form for “assistant manager.”
Bonus Beat: Here is what the Cup’s travel case looks like. It has more stickers (47) and more locks (two) than one might imagine.
(photos by Luke Fox, except “Ilanders” via @WhaTheFFacts)