Hockey Hall of Fame - Stanley Cup Journals: 34
The Stanley Cup Journal

Henri Richard has his name engraved on the Stanley Cup eleven times. Yvan Cournoyer's name appears nine times. Joe Nieuwendyk has taken the Stanley Cup home three times representing three different franchises while Scott Niedermayer has taken the Stanley Cup back to Cranbrook, BC four times, three as a New Jersey Devil and once alongside his brother Rob with the Anaheim Ducks. But there is one person who gets the Stanley Cup every 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," explains the delightful engraver, who laughs and continues, "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," explains 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 seventeen years, the hands of Louise St. Jacques have methodically engraved the
names of every Stanley Cup champion
into Lord Stanley's Cup.
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 explains. "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 by the winning team to the National Hockey League. 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, and in 2006, the Carolina Hurricanes submitted and had approved 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 admits. "The entire Cup takes around ten hours, but that's not continuous."

Louise St. Jacques of Boffey Promotions removes the bottom ring from the Stanley Cup in order to engrave the names of the Carolina Hurricanes.
"I double check on the spelling of every name. If it's not a name I'm used to, I check again," says 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."

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," explains 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 first additions. That bottom ring will now be the permanent home of the names of the reigning Stanley Cup champion Carolina Hurricanes. But it is interesting to note that the locked-out 2004-05 season is being recognized with an engraved area that reads: SEASON NOT PLAYED.

* * *

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 an eleven-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 night before the season opener, the champion Hurricanes received their beautiful diamond-studded Stanley Cup rings. Chad LaRose (left) and Mike Commodore (right) are so excited, they're already starting their playoff beards for next spring! (Phil Pritchard)
The Hurricanes were treated to a sneak preview of the newly-engraved Stanley Cup on Friday, September 29 following a pre-season game hosting Columbus. Those who participated in last spring's triumph were especially elated, but even recent acquisitions and youngsters dreaming of earning their first NHL shot were excited about playing with the reigning Stanley Cup champions. Most of the boys ran their fingers over the silver where their names had been so meticulously engraved. It was the first time the boys got the opportunity to read, see and touch their names on the Stanley Cup. Fifty-two names, immaculately and indelibly etched for all time one-thirty-second of an inch deep into gleaming sterling silver.

"It is a privilege to engrave the names on the Stanley Cup," smiles St. Jacques. "A real honour. It is exciting every single time!"

Monday, October 2, the boys received their stunning Stanley Cup rings in a special reception. Then, on Wednesday, October 4, it's the opening game of the 2006-07 NHL season, and the Carolina Hurricanes will meet the Buffalo Sabres at the RBC Center in Raleigh. That night, the banner will be raised to the rafters of the arena to remind fans and players alike of the extraordinary accomplishment of 2005-06. And the Stanley Cup will be carried out to centre ice by two Hockey Hall of Fame Cup Keepers, dressed in matching blazers and white gloves, amidst thousands of camera flashes as the defending Stanley Cup champions exhibit their just reward for loyal fans.

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On Friday, we'll make one final entry in the Stanley Cup Journal for this summer, concluding three months of excitement and exhilaration. We'll take you to the banner raising and the return of the Stanley Cup to the same centre stage from which this voyage sprang for the Carolina Hurricanes last June 19.

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Kevin Shea is the Editor of Publications at the Hockey Hall of Fame, and the author
of the Hall's most recent publication 'LORD STANEY: THE MAN BEHIND THE CUP'.
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