Who Gets Their Name on the Stanley Cup?

by Alaina Johnson | Updated On: February 23rd, 2022
Original Stanley Cup

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If your favorite NHL team has won the Stanley Cup in recent years, you may be wondering who gets to have their name engraved on the trophy. The cup has many years of history and sports some of the names of the all-time greats. It may come as a surprise that the cup has more names than just the players who were on the ice during the playoff games.

Each winning NHL team gets to place up to 52 names on the Stanley Cup. This can include players, coaches, and management along with other staff members for the franchise. There are multiple rules for who can have their name added that a team must follow. However, a team can go to the length of petitioning for a name to be added to the cup even if it doesn’t meet the criteria.

History of the Stanley Cup Trophy

The Stanley Cup is named after Lord Stanley of Preston — who was the 1892 Canadian Governor-General. He purchased the cup and proceeded to give it to an amateur hockey club after he became a fan.

In a departure from most trophies that are awarded to sports teams, a new cup isn’t made every year. It’s the same cup that’s passed down and given to the winning team. Once a ring becomes too full to add more names, it is removed and a new one is added in its place so the tradition can stay alive.

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Through a series of small hammers and letter stamps, the names are engraved onto the cup by hand. It is estimated that each name takes up to 30 minutes to engrave onto the cup — which means 52 names may take up to 28 hours in total.

When Were Names First Engraved on the Stanley Cup?

Though the Stanley Cup was first presented in 1893, there were no names engraved on it at that time. This tradition didn’t begin until 1907 when the then Montreal Wanderers. Even so, it didn’t become a yearly tradition until 1925.

Since then, names have been added to the cup every year. Originally, the Stanley Cup was just a bowl and didn’t have rings added to the base of it. It wasn’t until 1998 that the NHL put a cap on how many names could be added to the cup by the winning team.

What Are the Criteria For Who Gets Their Name Engraved?

Stanley Cup - Colorado 2001
Stanley Cup ( Colorado 2001)Photo by Matt Boulton licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

1. Players

If a player has played half of the regular season games (41 out of 82) and participated in at least one playoff game — they automatically have their name engraved onto the cup. Even if a player was out for a significant chunk of time due to injury during the regular season, they would still have the chance to have their name added to the Stanley Cup.

2. Goaltenders

This rule is bent a little bit when it comes to the backup goalie for the team. Oftentimes, the backup goalie won’t be actively playing in at least 41 games during the regular season. The backup goaltender must have dressed for at least half of the games and must have dressed for at least one of the games in the finals.

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3. Non-Players

For those individuals that are otherwise affiliated with the team, such as head coaches, assistant coaches, owners, and other management support, they still have the chance to get their name on the coveted Stanley Cup trophy.

The only piece of criteria for non-players is that they have a recognized active role within the organization. This can include trainers, scouts, directors, advisors, and even the team massage therapist.

What Happens When They Run Out of Room on the Stanley Cup?

There comes a certain point that the Stanley Cup would have been much too large if it collected the names of the winning teams for the past century. If the trophy went on forever, it would be impossible to transport and to celebrate with.

Each ring on the Stanley Cup holds 13 teams — and when it’s filled up a new, blank ring is added to the bottom and the topmost ring is removed and placed into safekeeping at the Hockey Hall of Fame.

The original Stanley Cup is rarely taken out into public — as it was deemed too brittle and fragile to present to the winning teams. In its place, the presentation cup has been awarded to the champions and it is then able to be transported around during the off-season so that players can spend their day with it.

Has Anyone’s Name Been Removed From the Stanley Cup?

The NHL removed the name of Basil Pocklington — the father of the Edmonton Oilers’ owner. His name had been engraved onto the trophy even though he had no actual tangible affiliation within the organization.

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More recently, the name of the Chicago Blackhawk’s video coach was removed from the cup after he was involved in a sexual assault investigation involving a prospective player. The Blackhawks sent the Hockey Hall of Fame a request to cross out his name to not tarnish the reputation of such a prestigious accomplishment.

The Honor of Being Engraved on the Stanley Cup

The longstanding tradition of engraving names on this coveted prize at the end of a long and arduous hockey season is one that is sure to carry on for many more years. The original cup can be found in a vault at the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Players are able to celebrate their win as a team and then individually when they’re allowed one personal off-season day to celebrate with the cup. The hand-engraved detail of the names on the trophy adds to the character of the Stanley Cup and is a unique tradition held only by the NHL.

Hockey-Players
Photo by David Cintron licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
Simon, the founder of Brave Stick Hockey, started playing hockey in 2003. He launched this website in 2018 to help new hockey players and fans learn more about the game and have more fun while learning.