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Stanley Cup Fast Facts

CNN Editorial Research

(CNN) — Here is a look at the Stanley Cup, the annual championship of the National Hockey League.

June 13, 2023 – The Vegas Golden Knights defeat the Florida Panthers in Game 5 to win the franchise’s first Stanley Cup.

June 26, 2022 – The Colorado Avalanche defeat the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 6 to win the team’s first Stanley Cup since 2001.

Other Facts

In the traditional structure of the playoffs, 16 teams play in an elimination tournament. The top three teams in each of the four NHL divisions are the first 12 teams in the playoffs, and the next four spots go to the remaining top two teams in each conference, as wild cards. All playoff rounds are the best of seven games.

The Montreal Canadiens have won the Stanley Cup a record 24 times.

Since 1893, there have been only two years without a Stanley Cup winner: 1919 and 2005.

The Cup

The trophy is named after Lord Stanley of Preston, a Canadian governor general appointed by Queen Victoria. Lord Stanley promoted amateur hockey competitions in Canada during the 19th century.

In 1892, he donated a trophy that was unveiled during a dinner honoring the Ottawa Hockey Club.

The trophy was originally called the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup.

The names of every player on the winning team are etched onto a tier of the trophy.

Since 1995, members of winning teams take turns holding on to the cup. Chaperones, including the Hockey Hall of Fame curator, keep watch over the trophy during its tour.

In its travels over the years, the cup has been forgotten on the side of the road and kicked into a canal. In 2017, the son of Pittsburgh Penguins forward Josh Archibald was baptized in the cup. It was not the first Stanley Cup baptism.


1893 – The Montreal Hockey Club from the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association wins the first Stanley Cup.

1900s-1910s – As amateur clubs give way to professional teams, the National Hockey Association, a precursor to the NHL, begins overseeing a series of championship games. NHA teams compete against teams affiliated with the Pacific Coast Hockey Association and the winner of the series gets the Stanley Cup. American teams start participating in the tournament.

1917 – The National Hockey League is formed, and the Seattle Metropolitans become the first US team to win the cup.

1919 – The Stanley Cup finals are canceled because of the Spanish flu pandemic.

1963 – A redesigned cup is introduced, built to be sturdier than the original.

1993 – A replica is produced to be displayed in the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

2005 – The NHL season and subsequent Stanley Cup finals are canceled over a labor dispute. The lockout ends when the NHL and the NHL Players’ Association finalize a six-year collective bargaining agreement.

March 12, 2020 – The coronavirus pandemic cuts the 2019-2020 regular season short after the NHL announces all remaining games are indefinitely postponed.

May 26, 2020 – The NHL releases its “Return to Play Plan,” which details how league play will resume – “24 teams in 2 ‘hub’ cities will compete in seeding round robins, a qualifying round and conference-based Stanley Cup Playoffs.”

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