How Many Stanley Cups are There? (Facts!)

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If you’re not familiar with the game of hockey, you would probably assume that there is only one Stanley Cup. In a way, that’s true, as there is only one Cup that the players celebrate ultimate victory in the Stanley Cup finals. 

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The fact is, there are 3 Stanley Cups, even though it’s called “The Stanley Cup” finals, as in singular. There is the old Dominion Cup, which has been around since the 19th century, the Presentation Cup that you see with the players, and the Hockey Hall of Fame Cup.

Lord Stanley Preston was responsible for the fact that there even is a Stanley Cup. Of course, without him, there would probably be some other term for a cup or a hockey puck, stick, or something symbological that would be presented to players.

The Original Dominion Cup

Stanley-cup
image by [Michael Righi] via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

At the time of the Original Dominion Cup’s inception in 1892, Lord Stanley Preston, the Governor General of Canada at the time, was profoundly in love with the sport of hockey, especially amateur hockey. 

Lord Stanley of Preston wanted to give something to hockey that would be remembered for all time, something to present to the winners that would echo through the halls of hockey lore for all time. He came up with and presented the Stanley Cup, first given as a “Challenge Cup” to the best amateur hockey club in the country.

Eventually, the Cup evolved into something far more meaningful to the country and the sport. In 1909, it became the trophy to get for professional teams. 

The original Cup had a single ring at its base with the remaining material above it shaped like a cylinder or an overly large pipe. The ring at the base is etched with all of the players, coaches, and staff members who won the Cup.

Instead of being replaced, the Old Dominion Cup simply had more rings added to it, with the names of new players, coaches, and staff added every year. It’s the one thing that hasn’t changed, despite the original Dominion Cup being replaced. 

The original Dominion Cup is also responsible for the current shape of the Stanley Cup today. As time went on, the Stanley Cup was redesigned twice, once in 1948 and again in 1957.

At the completion of the 1957 redesign, the original Cup became the Stanley Cup we all know and love today. The Cup continued on into the 1970s, but it had reached a point where it was far too degraded to continue on. 

The Presentation Cup

The inception of the Presentation Cup involved an exact replication of the original, as the original’s hallowed history was too good to alter into something altogether new. The Presentation Cup is treated in the same manner, with the adding of rings to support the engraving of all of the winning players and staff.

Upon winning it, the victorious team skates around the ice with the trophy held aloft. Of the three Stanley Cups, the Presentation Cup is the most used and the one that travels around the country the most. 

In fact, it spends the vast majority of its existence traveling. To begin with, every player gets to take the trophy home for one day over the course of the summer. The rest of the time—more specifically, 200 days out of the year—it is on the road from one venue to the next. 

One of the most interesting aspects of the Presentation Cup is the fact that it contains numerous errors. For instance, there is an XXXXX over the 1984 Oilers because a name that didn’t merit an engraving was nevertheless engraved on it anyway. 

The Hockey Hall of Fame Cup

Since the Stanley Cup (the Presentation Cup version) spends the vast majority of the year in a mode of permanent travel, there had to be something to fill the void at the Hall of Fame in its absence. 

That’s where the Hockey Hall of Fame Cup comes in. It is exactly the same as the Stanley Cup, with one notable exception in that it doesn’t have the errors that the Stanley Cup has. Where there is an XXXXX on the Stanley Cup to mark out a name that doesn’t belong, there are none on the Hall of Fame Cup.

The Hockey Hall of Fame Cup remains in place at all times and never travels along with the Presentation Cup. It was created in 1983 precisely because there needed to be a Stanley Cup on display, in one place, and at all times. 

With the Hockey Hall of Fame Cup being a replica of the Presentation Cup, that creates the triumvirate of Stanley Cups, as the Old Dominion Cup is retired but far from gone. Currently, the original Cup that Lord Stanley of Preston presented all those years ago is still around.

The Old Cup is held in a vault in Toronto, Canada, at the Hockey Hall of Fame, where the newer 1983 replica resides today. In many ways, it’s the completion of a circle that began in 1892.

Are Replicas Made for Players?

Although you would think that everyone who is involved in winning the Stanley Cup Finals would get a replica of the Stanley Cup trophy, that’s not the case. There are no other replicas of the Stanley Cup. 

The three above-cups are the only Stanley Cups in existence, at least insofar as they are meaningful replicas. Each team member is given the Stanley Cup to keep for a single day and night throughout the summer. 

Afterward, the Cup is returned to the Hall of Fame at the very beginning of the new hockey season. 

Final Thoughts

There are, and probably always will be, three Stanley Cups. Considering the tradition and history of the Stanley Cup, there is an ever-present aura of legacy and lore that pervades its existence. 

It’s not likely to change anytime soon unless the newer version of the Stanley Cup goes the way of the original, becoming too brittle and degraded to continue on any longer. However, there will always be a “Stanley Cup” to present to the winners every year.