I thought I would get some really negative responses to my "Stanley Cup is greater than Lombardi Trophy" post. Instead, I got some excellent questions concerning the Cup. I'll answer them as best as I know how.
Lord Stanley's Cup was named for its benefactor, Frederick Arthur Stanley, the 16th Earl of Derby. He came to Canada and was Governor general for some period of time. He was always a sports enthusiast, and in his stay in Canada, he became enthralled with ice hockey. He had the idea of having a challenge cup for the best team in Canada. Obviously, in 1893, this meant amateur teams. However, over time, the Cup was given to the team who wins the NHL playoffs. As you may know, there was a labor stoppage last season, and the Cup was not awarded. During the lockout, some citizens pleaded their case in front of Canadian courts to award the Cup to the best amateur team. It came too late, but just this week, the courts decided that the Cup should be awarded to an amateur team if there should ever be another season lost to a work stoppage.
Lord Stanley made many demands when he donated the Cup, which cost the equivalent of roughly $50. Among them was that no team shall ever own the Cup. They shall have possession of it for one year, and they shall return it in good shape upon having it challenged away from them. This is probably the most important thing that defines the Stanley Cup. No team shall ever own it, and it is returned to its trustees after one year.
Another excellent question concerns the names on the cup. What happens when it gets full? The Stanley Cup, as you probably know, is multi-tiered. Under the main bowl are three rings which gradually get larger. After that, there are a series of five rings of equal size. The bottom-most ring is where the newest additions to the cup are. When this bottom-most ring gets full, the top of the five rings is removed and taken to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. There should be two more seasons on the current Cup before the bottom-most ring gets full.
Winners do not get a replica or a plaque. They do get a ring, which is pretty cool. And each member of the winning team (including the coaching staff, the equipment managers, the radio guy, etc) gets to hang out with the Cup for 24 hours. The Cup has a bodyguard, who travels with it all the time, to make sure that nothing really bad happens to it.
A question that hasn't been asked specifically of me, but which should be answered anyway is about the authenticity of the cup. There are actually three Stanley Cups. The original Cup, which only lasted a few seasons, sits on display in the Hall of Fame. It was redesigned later on, and there are two versions of the modern Cup. One version lives at the Hall of Fame, and is never passed around. It is free of spelling errors, and obviously free of physical defect. The second is the one that gets passed around and taken to bars, and goes on tour. There are a few physical defects from its misadventures, and there are something like eight spelling errors on that Cup.
For reference, the Cup stands nearly three feet tall and weighs in at 36 1/2 pounds. In comparison, the Lombardi stands just under two feet tall and weighs seven pounds