Many of you have either seen an Ice Hockey Game before or it’s on your bucket list, rightly so considering it’s Canadas National sport. But how much do you really know about the sport and its greatest competition to win the famous Stanley Cup?
The fight for the trophy is happening right at this moment and watching at least one of the games is definitely a point that you want to cross off your list. Unfortunately, there’ll be no live Ice Hockey events in Vancouver any time soon but there’s lots of sports bars streaming the games in a ‘stadium like’ atmosphere so you can get a taste of the passionate cheering for one of the teams and feel part of the Canadian sports culture.
Before you dive into this experience I’m here to give you a run down of the most important information when it comes to the Stanley Cup so you’ll understand better why this competition is so important for many sports fanatics.
The Stanley Cup, the oldest trophy competed for by professional athletes in North America.
Sir Frederick Arthur Stanley, Lord Stanley of Preston and son of Earl of Derby purchased the trophy in 1892 for $50 at the time to be presented to ‘the championship hockey club of the Dominion of Canada’. In 1893 the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association was the first team ever awarded with the Stanley Cup.
The trophy has been altered over time, e.g. rings and bands were added to the bottom of the bowl. Every time a team wins their names are going to be inscribed on the bands of the cup. Since it’s the only professional sports trophy where names are displayed like that, bands get changed to make room for new champions. Currently the trophy is about 35 ¼ inches high and weighs 34 ½ pounds.
Ever since the National Hockey Association (NHL) took possession of the Stanley Cup in 1910 it has been symbolic of professional hockey supremacy. From 1926 onward only NHL teams have competed for the trophy.
Can you guess which team has won most Stanley Cups?
It was The Montreal Canadians with 23 times since the formation of the NHL!
When a team wins they celebrate it by passing the trophy around between each of the players and staff members of the team. Everyone gets to enjoy it for 24 hours, a tradition like in no other sport. What would you do if you had the cup for a day?
Now that you have a finer insight of why this competition is so important, let’s move on to understand the structure of it a little better, so you know what everyone is talking about.
Over the entire year teams try to collect points in order to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. In the end there’ll be 16 teams that have made it. The contest is divided into a West and East conference and each conference is then divided into two divisions. Once again: There’s 8 teams per conference, 4 per division = 16 teams total.
So far so good right?
The best team in each conference plays against the worst team in each conference and the second best plays against the second worst with the goal to win 4 out of 7 games against each other. The same applies for the 4 remaining teams that play against each other within their division. Makes sense? That means the two ‘mediocre’ teams of one division play against each other. I know, there’s a lot going on and I don’t want to make it more complicated or confuse you, so all I’ll say is that in the end the best team of the West conference will play against the best team of the East conference and that’s the big final. On the way there’s A LOT of matches to be played which tests the players resilience since hockey can be a brutal sport. One thing’s for sure it barely gets boring to watch.
There’s only 3 Canadian teams left in the Playoffs right now – the Edmonton Oilers, the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Winnipeg Jets – so better be fast and cheer on your favourite to help them win! Pick your sports bar and immerse yourself into this Canadian sport experience. Next Pub night we’ll try to go see one game together but until then a lot can change!
If you don’t have weekend plans yet, I recommend you put this on your list. If you have any questions, ask Tim. 😉
I hope this post helps you as it helped me to understand this sport and its culture a little better. You’ll see, you’ll leave Canada as a real Hockey expert. I could probably write for many more hours, but I think I’d rather chat more with you about the Stanley Cup at tonight’s Pub Night, so see you there!