Hockey Hall of Fame - Stanley Cup Journals: 40

Similar to an episode of MTV's hit reality TV show "Cribs", Scotty Bowman tours the Stanley Cup around his personal hockey shrine at his home in East Amherst, New York. (Walt Neubrand/HHOF)
Scotty Bowman has had an extraordinary hockey career. Beginning his career in the Montreal Canadiens' organization, Scotty learned at the feet of some of the masters, and like a sponge, soaked up every lesson. Then, by adding his own take, quickly earned accolades as one of the bright minds in hockey.

During his Hall of Fame career, Bowman was part of Stanley Cup championships in 1973, 1976, 1977, 1978 and 1979 as head coach of the Canadiens, 1991 and 1992 as Director of Player Development with the Pittsburgh Penguins and 1997, 1998, 2002 and now, 2008 with the Detroit Red Wings.

Although he joined the Chicago Blackhawks as Senior Advisor of Hockey Operations beginning in July 2008, Bowman had more than earned another date with the Stanley Cup for his contributions to the Detroit Red Wings, and that date was Wednesday, August 27.

Scotty Bowman blinds the camera with the collection of rings that have been awarded to him throughout his career in hockey. (Walt Neubrand/HHOF)
The Stanley Cup arrived at Scotty's East Amherst, New York home at 10:00 that morning. "Right on time," he stated, pointing to his watch. "I've already golfed 18 holes this morning."

Scotty Bowman and the Stanley Cup join together, again. (Walt Neubrand/HHOF)
Bowman took the Stanley Cup downstairs to a shrine to hockey that almost rivals the Hockey Hall of Fame. Trophies, medals, ribbons, photographs. We picked up a large velvet-covered ring box. "Open that up," he said with a smile. Inside were all of his rings — eleven Stanley Cup rings and a Hockey Hall of Fame ring beautifully cradled in the box, glittering like King Tut's tomb when Howard Carter first opened it in 1922.

From noon until six o'clock, family, friends and neighbours gathered in the Bowman backyard for a Stanley Cup celebration. Fred Stanfield, who played for Scotty in Buffalo, showed up with his grandchildren. Gary Sabourin, who played under Bowman in St. Louis also arrived, as did broadcaster Harry Neale, virtually a neighbour in East Amherst.

At 6:30, as the crowd gradually dissipated, Scotty took the Stanley Cup over to the Transit Valley Country Club, his home golf course and where he had golfed that morning. "I'm back," he announced, holding the Stanley Cup so his fellow members could gaze at hockey's greatest trophy. After an impromptu speech, Bowman posed for some photos and signed autographs while the members read the names on the Cup. "Hey, I only count your name on here ten times," one said curiously.

"That's right," Scotty replied. "They haven't engraved the 2008 names yet."

* * *

Carl Peterson was the first to officially engrave the Stanley Cup. (HHOF Archives)
Henri Richard has his name engraved on the Stanley Cup eleven times. So does Scotty Bowman. Guys like Kris Draper, Nicklas Lidstrom, Kirk Maltby and Darren McCarty have their names on the Cup four times. But there is one person who gets the Stanley Cup every single summer, year after year. Her name is Louise St. Jacques.

Louise St. Jacques is the person who engraves the Stanley Cup. Every September, she collects the Stanley Cup and takes it to her studio at Boffey Promotions in Montreal. Through the year, Boffey Promotions does all manner of metal engraving, from jewellery to watches to special corporate gifts, but in the month of September, Louise St. Jacques, who is a partner in the business, knows that she will have but one focus — the Stanley Cup.

"I started working at Boffey Promotions part-time. I was getting trained while I was going to university," explained the delightful engraver, who laughed and continued, "I got so good, they had to hire me!"

There have only been four official engravers of the Stanley Cup. "Doug (Boffey)'s father, Eric, used to be the official supplier for the NHL," explained Louise. "On his father's retirement, Doug didn't want to get into the family business, so the work was given to Mr. Peterson." Carl Peterson was the first to official engrave the Stanley Cup, followed by his son Arno. "When Mr. Peterson died (in 1977), the contract changed hands and they gave it back to Doug, who had changed his mind and decided to continue his father's business. Boffey has been engraving the Stanley Cup for around twenty-five years." Doug Boffey engraved the Cup for a number of years, a role that now rests in the capable hands of Louise St. Jacques.

For eighteen years, the hands of Louise St. Jacques have methodically engraved the names of every Stanley Cup champion into Lord Stanley's Cup. (HHOF Archives)
The process is fascinating, but nerve-wracking for Louise, who insists on working without anyone nearby. "When we get the Cup, we remove all the bands," she explained. "I work only with the band, not the cylinder." The Stanley Cup is carefully disassembled, separating the bowl, the neck and the five rows of rings that make up the body of the trophy. The Cup is hollow, but has a cylindrical foundation that keeps the trophy sturdy through months of carrying, traveling and being passed from celebrant to celebrant.

The names that go on the Stanley Cup are submitted to the National Hockey League by the winning team. There are specific criteria for approval -- games played during the regular season; games in the final. Then, once approved, the list is given to St. Jacques. "Before engraving, I go through the list, count all the letters and make certain they will all fit into the space allotted." The NHL will allow no more than fifty-two names.

The band being engraved is clamped onto a circular jig that creates a steel background for stamping. Special hammers of different weights are used to strike against a letter-punch to sink each letter into the silver. "They give me at least a week to do the engraving. It's very stressful -- you don't want to make a mistake. I don't want to hear the phone ring or have anybody come by while I'm engraving the Stanley Cup." Louise works for ninety minutes, then takes a break. Each name takes approximately a half hour to inscribe. "I just do a little bit at a time," she admitted. "The entire Cup takes around ten hours, but that's not continuous."

"I double check on the spelling of every name. If it's not a name I'm used to, I check again," said Louise. She can't afford to make a mistake. "The sterling (silver) is soft, so if I had to, I could remove an error by banging the letters from behind but that would take an awful long time." Louise St. Jacques uses a small hammer and series of letter stamps to inscribe each name, plus a line held with a piece of metal to keep the names as straight and level as possible. Louise adds, "Each letter is done individually. I rely on my eyesight to make sure that the letters are spaced all the same."

A first look at the engraving of the fifty-two member Detroit Red Wings 2007-08 roster on the bottom ring of the Stanley Cup. (Phil Pritchard/HHOF)
Once a ring is filled with the names of championship teams, which took place after Tampa Bay won the Stanley Cup in 2004, the bands on the Stanley Cup are moved. "I remove the upper band and it goes to the Hockey Hall of Fame," explained St. Jacques. "Rim number two goes to number one - they all move up one and we add a new band at the bottom of the Cup."

That leaves the bottom ring of the Stanley Cup ready for its latest additions. That band will now be the home of the names of the reigning Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings.

* * *

Louise St. Jacques loves hockey. "From living in Quebec, I'm automatically a hockey fan," she chuckles. "I grew up watching Guy Lafleur and that whole gang. It was a magic time to be a hockey fan growing up in Montreal." But the apple doesn't fall far from the tree -- Louise has a thirteen-year-old son, Eric James, who is also a hockey fan. "He's playing hockey and loves it. But he's really funny when he sees the Stanley Cup," smiles the proud mother. "He calls it, 'My Cup.' He says, 'Mama, there's my Cup on TV!' But he's grown up with the Stanley Cup. One year, I was working on the Stanley Cup when he was just three weeks old." Each year, Louise takes a picture of her hockey-loving son in his hockey sweater. "It's great to see how much he's grown by standing beside the Stanley Cup."

The names of the Stanley Cup champions are immaculately and indelibly etched for all time one-thirty-second of an inch deep into the gleaming sterling silver of the Stanley Cup. "It is a privilege to engrave the names on the Stanley Cup," smiles St. Jacques. "A real honour. It is exciting every single time!"

* * *

The Stanley Cup was flown to Montreal on Monday, September 22. Louise St. Jacques began her craftsmanship immediately.

* * *

On Tuesday, we'll catch up on a few more Stanley Cup visits, and then next Friday, we'll attend the Detroit Red Wings' banner raising ceremony, and get the players' reactions to seeing their names on the Stanley Cup for the first time this year.

* * *

Kevin Shea is one of the contributors to 'Travels With Stanley' by The Keepers of the Cup,
a book of geography and history lessons taught through the travels of the Stanley Cup (Fenn Publishing).

All Photographs are property of the Hockey Hall of Fame or Getty Images and may not be reproduced without prior written consent. For more information regarding use of our photographs please contact us.
 
Stanley Cup Final
Game Six
2 min 56 sec

Play Video
Dressing Room
Party
2 min 4 sec

Play video
Cup Celebration
& Parade
4 min 10 sec

Play video
Team Photo
Shoot 1 min 11 sec

Play video
 

 
  >> View videos straight from the Keepers of the Cup!
  >> Check out the all-time list of Detroit Red Wing Honoured Members
  >> See our tribute to the Red Wing dynasty teams of the 1950's
  >> Take a look at the 2002 Stanley Cup tour through our photo gallery