Does the Stanley Cup Get Bigger? Stanley Cup Size and Facts

Posted on May 20, 2024 by Dan Kent
stanley cup

The Stanley Cup is considered the best and most recognizable trophy in professional sports. The National Hockey League is also famous for engraving the names of players on Stanley Cup-winning teams directly onto the trophy. 

Because of the physical play, the bruising and the punishment it takes to win the Stanley Cup, it is heralded as one of the most difficult trophies to win in professional sports.

But what happens when the Cup runs out of free space? Do they erase the old names? Does the Cup get taller? Are the bands replaced? This article will investigate the behind-the-scenes management of the Stanley Cup.

What Is The Stanley Cup?

The Stanley Cup is the trophy awarded to the team that wins the NHL's Stanley Cup Finals each season. The cup winners are the champion for that season and hold the title until a team wins the following year.

The Stanley Cup predates the NHL. It originates in the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup of 1892, an amateur hockey tournament at the time.

The trophy was donated in 1892 by Lord Stanley of Preston, then the Governor General of Canada. The Stanley Cup, of course, gets its name from its donor, Lord Stanley.

At the time, however, the Cup contained only the bowl portion (today tops the trophy) and one ring. A second ring was added only in 1909.

As decades passed, new bands were added to the trophy to include winning players' names.

The Stanley Cup's present-day appearance arrived in an updated version of the trophy in 1958. This new trophy featured a five-band barrel-style body topped with a bowl and several smaller collars.

How many Stanley Cups are in existence?

There are a total of three Stanley Cups in existence. The original Dominion Cup, which is the original Stanley Cup. However, with it being donated to the league in the 1800s, it was getting too old and brittle to survive presentations. 

For this reason, they made the Presentation Cup. This is the Cup you will see most often, as it is used in all the presentations and given to the championship team at the end of the final series. It is also the Cup that the players end up taking home during their private day.

And finally, they have a replica cup that sits at the Hockey Hall of Fame when the Presentation Cup is being toured around or out of the facility. This was made primarily so there was no empty space when the presentation cup was out, as it typically is.

Does the Stanley Cup keep getting bigger?

Yes, the Stanley Cup does keep getting bigger. However, they have a system that keeps the trophy the same size. The Stanley Cup's body contains five bands that can each fit the names of 13 teams per band. 

How many years until the Stanley Cup is full?

When the bottom band is filled, a new band is required for the Stanley Cup every 13 years. The top band is removed, and the new band is added to the bottom for the names of the next 13 winning teams. 

What happens to the Stanley Cup when it’s full?

In its present-day form, the Stanley Cup is mounted on a body of five large bands. Each band can contain the names of players from 13 Stanley Cup-winning teams – this means that the Cup is engraved with the names of up to 75 years of winning teams at one time.

Each year, when a team wins the Stanley Cup, all the players on the team have their names engraved in an open spot on the bottom band.

When the bottom band is filled, the top band is removed, and the other four bands move up. A new band is then added at the bottom, where the names of the next 13 winners will be engraved.

The first time the Stanley Cup was fully engraved was in 1991. At the time, the NHL decided to start replacing the bottom band rather than simply adding onto the Cup and making it taller.

The last time a band was removed was in 2018 after the Washington Capitals won the Stanley Cup. The winners from the 1953-54 to 1964-65 seasons had their band removed to make room for a new band with the Cup-winning Capitals team names.

The next time the top band will be removed is after the 2029-30 season champions have their names engraved on the current bottom band.

When the top band is removed, it is sent for preservation to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, Ontario.

Who gets their name engraved on the Stanley Cup?

The NHL has particular rules about whose name is engraved on the Stanley Cup.

The history of this engraving goes back to the Montreal Wanderers in the 1907 season.

Earlier teams had engraved their team name and championship year on the Cup. Still, the Wanderers were the first to engrave all the players' names onto the trophy. They did so on the interior bowl portion of the Cup.

This engraving practice occasionally occurred after the Wanderers' 1907 win, but the act became a tradition in 1924 and after that.

A player must meet one of a few standards to earn a spot on the Stanley Cup.

First, the player must be on the Stanley Cup-winning team's roster when they win the Cup. Then, the player must have played in at least one Stanley Cup Finals playoff game or at least half of the team's regular season games.

So, for example, a player who plays over half the season but is traded before the playoffs would not qualify for the Cup because they aren't on the team's Finals roster.

The backup goaltender, however, is credited for "playing" a game even if they don't enter the net during the game.

In addition to the players, team ownership, upper management, and coaching personnel also get their names engraved on the Cup.

Because the names are permanently engraved, there are some famous errors where player and team names are misspelled on the Cup. These have sometimes been corrected in the 21st century.

Who engraves the names on the Stanley Cup?

Over the league's history, only four people have engraved their names onto the Stanley Cup. Presently, an engraver named Louise St. Jacques performs the task.

St. Jacques has been the Stanley Cup's name engraver since 1989. She estimates that it takes around 10 hours to engrave a full team's list of names on the Cup.

St. Jacques dismantles the trophy and clamps the band she's working with to complete the engraving. She does this each September after the players all had their day with the Cup in private.

The NHL takes the history and preservation of the Stanley Cup seriously. The trophy has evolved since its 1892 creation, and it is amended with the names of new Stanley Cup champions every season.

Who keeps the Stanley Cup trophy?

The official home for the Stanley Cup is the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, Canada. However, the Cup being stationary at any time during the year is a rarity. This is because the Stanley Cup is unlike any other professional sports trophy. It is not remade every year. 

Instead, the winners of the Cup are awarded a set amount of time with it. 

When a new champion is crowned, it will be passed on to them.

The Keeper of the Cup, as they call him, is Phil Pritchard. He has been following the Stanley Cup since the early 1990s, and you will rarely see it without him.

What happens to the Stanley Cup after a team wins it?

When a team wins the Stanley Cup, they'll be given 100 days during the offseason with the Cup. Players, management, training staff, coaches, general managers, and whoever else would like to spend time with the Cup can do so.

"Marc-André Fleury, the Stanley Cup, and Sidney Crosby" by michaelrighi is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

At the team's expense, they can engrave their team name along with the players and staff that helped them win the Cup.

How long do players keep the Stanley Cup?

A tradition started in 1995; each Stanley Cup-winning team player gets a private day with the Cup to take it where they please.

However, the Cup is not in the sole possession of the player. To protect the Cup, as the players take the original with them, they are accompanied by at least one Hockey Hall of Fame member.

In addition to the players, the general managers, coaches, training staff, and owners will also get their time with the Cup.

Has the Stanley Cup ever been dropped?

Yes, the Stanley Cup has been dropped on numerous occasions. Dents and scratches are typically easily repaired, and there hasn't been a situation where the Cup is dented beyond repair. 

The most recent drop of the Stanley Cup would be Tampa Bay's Patrick Maroon in 2021. In an attempt to hoist the Cup, he fell over and dented it. However, dents can be dated back to the early 1900s, and Patrick Maroon was not alone in his slip-up.

How much is a Stanley Cup ring worth?

A Stanley Cup ring's value heavily depends on what the team decides to do with the ring. For example, if they make them flashy with more diamonds, the ring could be worth more than another team that went more traditional.

However, some recent examples may shed some light on the value of a Stanley Cup ring. When Tampa Bay won the Cup in 2021, the estimated value of the rings they produced was $66,000. When the Avalanche won the Cup in 2022, their estimated value was around $30,000.

What team has the most Stanley Cups?

  • Montreal Canadiens have 23
  • Toronto Maple Leafs have 13
  • Detroit Red Wings have 11
  • Boston Bruins have 6
  • Chicago Blackhawks have 6
  • Edmonton Oilers have 5
  • Pittsburgh Penguins have 5

Which player has the most Stanley Cups?

Henri Richard is the player with the most Stanley Cups in history. He won 11 of them, as he played for the Montreal Canadiens Dynasty throughout the '50s, '60s and '70s. His first Cup would come in the 1955-56 season, while his final Cup would be won in the 1972-73 season.

He would go on to score 1046 points throughout his 1258-game career and was a menace to opponents night in and night out.

He sadly passed away in 2020 at the age of 84.

Overall, the top 5 winners of the Cup were all from the Canadiens team. It would not surprise me if none of them were ever taken out of the top 5, as winning the Cup in a 32-team league is becoming exceptionally hard.

Dan Kent

About the author

Growing up in a hockey hotbed (Calgary, Alberta. And yes, I'm an Oiler fan), I decided to put my love and knowledge of the game to work. I started at five and am still playing today into my early 30s. By acquiring Brave Stick Hockey and rebranding it to Big Shot Hockey in 2023, I plan to teach people about this great game and educate them on the best equipment and history of the game. On a career level, I am in finance, running one of the largest financial websites in Canada, Stocktrades.ca.

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