Hockey Hall of Fame - Stanley Cup Journals: 38
The Stanley Cup Journal

 
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On the evening of Tuesday, September 25, the Stanley Cup arrived home on the soil of its birth. Although the game of hockey is regarded by most historians as a decidedly Canadian game, its most famous trophy was created in London, England.

On June 11, 1888, Lord Frederick Arthur Stanley was sworn in as the sixth Governor General of Canada, appointed by England's reigning monarch, Queen Victoria. Born to an aristocratic British family, Stanley's full title was the Right Honourable Sir Frederick Arthur Stanley, Baron Stanley of Preston, in the County of Lancaster, in the peerage of Great Britain, Knight Grand Cross of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath. He later added the title of 16th Earl of Derby.

Members of the Anaheim Ducks pose near Westminster Palace home of the Parliament of the United Kingdom in London, England. (Phil Pritchard/HHOF)
Hockey was in the very earliest stages of its development when Lord and Lady Stanley, their son Edward and daughter Isobel, observed their first game on February 4, 1889 at the Montreal Winter Carnival. It was a pivotal moment in hockey's history. It was an epiphany for the Stanley family.

Within weeks, 14-year-old Isobel participated in what is regarded as the first women's hockey game, which took place on the Rideau Hall Rink behind the Governor General's official residence in Ottawa. Edward had his brothers out on the same rink playing pick-up hockey games. Eventually, younger brother Arthur put together one of Ottawa's first teams (the Rideau Rebels) and a loosely-organized league. Under his father's patronage, he later also organized the Ontario Hockey League.

On March 18, 1892, at a banquet celebrating a successful season for the Ottawa Hockey Club, Lord Stanley's aide, Lord Kilcoursie (who also played on the Rideau Rebels with Stanley's sons), read a letter on behalf of the Governor General.

"I have for some time been thinking that it would be a good thing if there were a challenge cup, which would be held from year to year by the leading hockey club in the Dominion. Considering the general interest which hockey matches now elicit, and the importance of having the game played fairly and under rules generally recognized, I am willing to give a cup which shall be held from year to year by the winning club."

To exuberant cheering, it was clear that a challenge trophy for hockey was definitely met with resounding enthusiasm.

A few Ducks' players group together for a photo in front of a traditional double-decker bus in London. (Phil Pritchard/HHOF)
Captain Charles Colville, a former aide to Stanley who had since returned to England, was instructed by the Governor General to use 10 guineas (approximately $50) to purchase a suitable trophy. Colville visited G.R. Collis & Co. at 130 Regent Street, just off Piccadilly Circus, and handpicked a beautiful punchbowl. He asked that on the outside of the bowl, it should be engraved 'From Stanley of Preston' along with the Stanley family crest. On the opposite side was to read 'Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup.'

In late April 1893, the silver bowl, measuring 7.28 inches tall and 11.42 inches in diameter, was crated and shipped across the Atlantic for the Governor General. Lord Stanley was pleased and contacted John Sweetland, one of the two trustees he had appointed to oversee the trophy's activities, to fetch the trophy (which was already being called the Stanley Cup). Sheriff Sweetland did exactly that, then had the other trustee, Philip D. Ross, arrive at his house to see the championship bowl for the first time.

Lord Stanley insisted that the Cup remain a challenge trophy, presented for the amateur championship of Canada, and never become the property of any one team. The first Stanley Cup winner was the Montreal Hockey Club, a member club of the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association, in 1893. In 1910, after having being awarded to both amateur and professional teams, the Stanley Cup was awarded exclusively to professional teams. From the National Hockey League's formation in 1917 until 1926, the magnificent trophy was awarded to the winner of a playoff between the NHL and the Pacific Coast Hockey Association. When the PCHA dissolved in 1927, the Stanley Cup has since presented exclusively to NHL playoff champions.

On the death of his brother Edward, the 15th Earl of Derby, in April 1893, Lord Stanley became the 16th Earl of Derby and was required to oversee the family estates. He resigned as Governor General and on July 15, 1893, returned to England. Lord Stanley of Preston never witnessed his namesake trophy presented to a championship team.

Stanley could have no comprehension of the immense impact his gift would have. In 1945, the donation of the Stanley Cup earned its donor selection to the Hockey Hall of Fame as a builder of the sport - one of the fourteen men inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame that initial year. Today, the original Stanley Cup donated by Lord Stanley is kept on permanent display at the Hockey Hall of Fame.

On April 17, 2006, it arrived home, full of stories, after being away for 113 years. Just over a year later, the Stanley Cup visited London once again.

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While touring downtown London, the players took a moment to pose for a few photos alongside The Thames River. (Phil Pritchard/HHOF)
The Anaheim Ducks brought hockey's legendary chalice back to London as they opened their NHL season with two regular season contests against the Los Angeles Kings.

Media, from both the United Kingdom and North America, welcomed the Stanley Cup on its return that evening. Then, on Wednesday, the Ducks took the Stanley Cup on a sightseeing tour, visiting Tower Bridge, Big Ben and Buckingham Palace, among many notable spots. Fans from all over the world glanced over at the bus, then almost got whiplash as they noticed a familiar trophy and a busload of athletes touring the streets of London. Not everyone knew the significance of the silver trophy, but all knew that it was important for something to do with sports. It was no surprise, though, how many recognized the trophy as the Stanley Cup, and the young men as members of the Anaheim Ducks. Tourists, ex-patriates and global hockey fans alike recognized the team and the trophy, snapping off photos, honking their horns or raising a thumb in acknowledgement.

The newly engraved Stanley Cup overlooks the Ducks on-ice practice in the 02 Arena in south-east London. (Phil Pritchard/HHOF)
That evening, the Ducks had a night off, and attended the Premier League football match between Fulham and the Bolton Wanderers. Fulham has several American players on its roster, and appreciated the Ducks' attendance, inviting them into the dressing room. The teams exchanged jerseys in a sign of camaraderie. Unfortunately, they were unable to deliver a winner to their special guests, losing to Bolton 2-1.

While Thursday, September 27 was a day off for the players, the Stanley Cup was kept busy throughout the day. After meeting the media, that evening, the Stanley Cup was the guest of honour at a reception held to thank the more than 200 Anaheim season ticket holders who made the trek to England to see their beloved Ducks. Besides the Cup, these special guests from across the pond (literally) engaged in a fascinating question and answer exchange with Ducks' executive and management, including Executive VP and GM Brian Burke, CEO Michael Schulman, Executive VP and COO Tim Ryan and Assistant Coach Dave Farrish.

The next morning, these same fans got to meet the players, and were thrilled at the opportunity, while the players were incredulous that more than 200 fans would fly to England to watch them open their season. One fan, the president of the Ducks' UK fan club, made the two-hour trip to London in order to be part of the meet and greet with the players, and was afforded a warm welcome from all in attendance. He had gone to school in California, fell in love with hockey and the Ducks, and took his passion back home to England with him. To see his team in his backyard was a thrill beyond compare (hell of a big backyard, but you know what we mean!)

Anaheim Ducks owner Henry Samueli has his first look at his name on the Stanley Cup.
(Phil Pritchard/HHOF)
Brian Burke took the Stanley Cup to a military base near London later that afternoon, September 28.

The NHL season opened for the Ducks on Saturday, September 29. While there were public events with the Stanley Cup all day, the team prepared to meet the Los Angeles Kings at O2 Arena in London. The long-anticipated game was delayed by more than 15 minutes due to a lighting problem that sent both teams back to their respective dressing rooms after the American and British anthems had been sung. When the game finally got underway, a capacity crowd of 17,500 watched Los Angeles dump the Ducks 4-1. Anaheim got revenge on Sunday, though, crowning the Kings (have some respect!), 4-1 in front of a full house. At both games, the enthusiastic fans showed up wearing hockey sweaters that covered every single NHL squad, as well as teams from around the world. Most impressive to observe how hockey's impact is infiltrating the globe.

After the two regular season weekend games, the Stanley Cup flew back to North American soil aboard the Samuelis' private jet, landing in Washington for a private function on Monday, the first of October.

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On Thursday, we'll return for one final installment of the 2007 Stanley Cup Journal, as we observe the Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks raise their championship in front of their hometown fans at Wednesday night's contest. The Stanley Cup will be there. Make sure you are too!

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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).

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