Names on the Stanley Cup – Who Gets Their Name Engraved?

Posted on May 21, 2024 by Dan Kent
Original Stanley Cup

Suppose your favorite National Hockey League team has recently won the Stanley Cup. In that case, you may wonder who gets their name engraved on the trophy. 

The Cup has many years of history and sports some of the names of the all-time greats. However, many hockey fans don't know the true history of the Stanley Cup or how you get your name on it. It may be a surprise that the Cup has more names than the players on the ice during the playoff games.

History of the Stanley Cup Trophy

The Stanley Cup is named after Lord Stanley of Preston, the 1892 Governor General of Canada. Sir Frederick Arthur Stanley purchased the Cup and gave it to an amateur hockey club after becoming a fan.

In a departure from most trophies awarded to sports teams, a new cup isn't made yearly. It's the same Cup 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 to the tradition of passing it on to the next Stanley Cup champion can be continued.

There are three types of Stanley Cups. The original is the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup. Over the years, the Cup became too brittle, and they now use the Presentation Cup, a replica of the original, during all of the presentations you see on the ice.

What is the oldest year on the Stanley Cup?

The Stanley Cup was first awarded in the 1892-93 season. In fact, it is the oldest trophy among all professional sports leagues in North America. The Montreal Hockey Club won the Stanley Cup in 1893 and has been awarded every year since except for two, 1918-1919 and 2004-2005.

When were names first engraved on the Stanley Cup?

Though the Stanley Cup was first presented in 1893, no names were engraved on it then. 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. Initially, 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.

How many names can fit on the Stanley Cup?

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. If every team were to place 52 names on the Cup, it would have a maximum amount of 676 names on the Cup at any given time.

Stanley Cup - Colorado 2001

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

This is because the cup bands are replaced every 13 years to avoid the Cup becoming too large. This rule occurred in the 1998 season when the Detroit Red Wings asked for 55 names to be put on the Cup. Since then, the NHL made a rule where 52 was the max.

What qualifies your name on the Stanley Cup?

A team must follow multiple rules for who can have their name added. However, a team can petition for a name to be added to the Cup even if it doesn't meet the criteria. For example, the Pittsburgh Penguins successfully did this for Pascal Dupuis in 2016, who was forced to retire due to health issues after only playing 18 games.

Let's review some of the criteria to get your name added to the Stanley Cup.

Players

Players' names will be added if they played half of the regular season games (41 out of 82) and participated in at least one game in the playoffs — 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 add their name to the Stanley Cup.

Goaltenders

This rule is bent a bit when it comes to the backup goalie for the team. Often, 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 Stanley Cup Finals.

Non-Players

Those individuals that are otherwise affiliated with the team, such as head coaches, assistant coaches, owners, and other management support, 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 do they do with old names on the Stanley Cup?

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.

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 continued forever, it would be impossible to transport and celebrate with.

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

How are names added to the Stanley Cup?

The names are engraved onto the Cup by hand through a series of small hammers and letter stamps. It is estimated that each name takes up to 30 minutes to engrave onto the Cup, meaning 52 names may take up to 28 hours.

How many years is your name on the Stanley Cup?

If you win the Stanley Cup, your name is on the Cup indefinitely. However, after 13 years, the band your name is engraved on will be removed from the Cup and placed in the Hockey Hall of Fame. This is in an effort for the Cup to not get too large. 

So although your name is still on a piece of the Stanley Cup, it is not on the physical Cup for longer than 13 years. If you happen to be on a team who wins near the back end of that 13-year period, you may only have your name on the Cup for a year or two before your band is stored.

The last time the Stanley Cup ring was changed was after the Washington Capitals won the 2018 Stanley Cup.

Has a name ever been removed from the Stanley Cup?

Yes, there have been multiple names removed from the Stanley Cup. For one, Basil Pocklington's name was removed from the Stanley Cup after it was added in the 1983-1984 season in which the Edmonton Oilers won the Stanley Cup. 

The name was added because he was the father of then-owner Peter Pocklington. However, they took his name off because he had no affiliation with the team.

In addition to Pocklington, Brad Aldrich's name was removed in 2021 after he pleaded guilty to fourth-degree criminal sexual assault while he was with the Chicago Blackhawks. He was the team's video coach at the time.

In addition to the removals, there has been a multitude of mishaps when it comes to spelling. For example, the Colorado Avalanche had Adam Deadmarsh's name spelt Adam Deadmarch.

Whose name is crossed out on the Stanley Cup?

Both Pocklington and Brad Aldrich's names are crossed out on the Stanley Cup. Because of the process of putting names on the Cup, it is very hard, in fact near impossible, to actually remove a name from the Cup itself. So instead of attempting to do this, they will simply cross the name out until it is no longer visible.

Who has their name on the Stanley Cup 5 times but spelled differently?

Jacques Plante won the Stanley Cup in five consecutive years, and each and every time, his name is spelt differently.

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.

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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