1894: The First Stanley Cup Playoff

After winning the Stanley Cup, players traditionally skate around holding the trophy above their heads, as Pavel Datsyuk of the Detroit Red Wings does here when the Red Wings captured their 11th cup in 2008. (Image by Michael Righi via Wikimedia Commons)
After winning the Stanley Cup, players traditionally skate around holding the trophy above their heads, as Pavel Datsyuk of the Detroit Red Wings does here when the Red Wings captured their 11th cup in 2008. (Image by Michael Righi via Wikimedia Commons)

On this date in 1894, the first Stanley Cup playoff game was held.

Here are a few things you may not have known about the oldest trophy in North American professional team sports.

The cup was commissioned as the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup by Lord Stanley of Preston, who was then the governor general of Canada. It was awarded for the first time in 1893 to the Montreal Hockey Club based on league standings, not on a playoff victory. As a challenge cup, the team which won the cup the previous year was allowed to defend it the next season if it won its league’s regular-season title.

In 1904, the Ottawa Hockey Club was challenged by a squad of miners from Dawson City in the Yukon Territory. The Dawson team was known as the Klondikers and the Nuggets, and traveled to Ottawa by foot, bicycle, dogsled, narrow-gauge railway, steamship and train. Two days after arriving in the capital, they lost the first game 9-2. Three days later, Ottawa won the second game 23-2, with Frank McGee scoring 14 goals, including eight consecutive goals over the course of nine minutes. No team from west of Winnipeg won the Cup during the challenge era. The first true West Coast team to play for the Cup was the Victoria Aristocrats in 1914.

During the challenge era, the most successful club was the Ottawa Hockey Club with 17 successful challenges or defenses of the Cup.

In 1914, it was determined that the Stanley Cup would go to the winner of a series between the champions of the National Hockey Association and the Pacific Coast Hockey Association. This led to the inclusion of American teams, as the PCHA had teams in Seattle and Portland. The trustees of the Cup announced that the trophy would no longer be awarded to the best team in Canada, but to the best team in the world. Which, apparently, at the time consisted of Canada and the states of Washington and Oregon.

The Seattle Metropolitans were the first American team to win the Stanley Cup in 1917. They played for the Cup again in 1919 and 1920. The 1919 series was canceled when it was tied at two games apiece after an influenza outbreak decimated the Montreal team. Montreal’s coach attempted to forfeit the series to Seattle, but the Seattle coach wouldn’t accept it. The trophy was not awarded that year.

Since 1927, the Stanley Cup has been exclusively the championship trophy for the National Hockey League. The Montreal Canadiens have won the Stanley Cup a record 24 times since 1915. The Cup was not awarded in 2005 as the result of a labor dispute. As a result, in 2006 a settlement was reached which would allow non-NHL teams to challenge for the Stanley Cup if the NHL doesn’t operate for a season.

The cup itself is the bowl that makes up the top 7 inches of the nearly 3-foot tall trophy. The rest of the trophy is made up of rings that are engraved with the names of the players and executives from the winning team. Once a ring is filled with names, the oldest remaining ring is removed and kept at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

Our question: Which player’s name is engraved on the Stanley Cup a record 11 times?


Today is the earliest day on which Easter Sunday can fall, April 25 is the latest. It’s World Water Day and Emancipation Day in Puerto Rico.

It’s unofficially As Young As You Feel Day, National Sing Out Day, and National Goof Off Day.

It’s the birthday of songwriter Stephen Sondheim, who is 87; actor William Shatner, who is 86; and songwriter Andrew Lloyd Webber, who is 69.

Because our topic happened before 1960, we’ll spin the wheel to pick a year at random.

This week in 2001, the top song in the U.S. was “Butterfly” by Crazy Town.

The No. 1 movie was “Exit Wounds,” while the novel “A Painted House” by John Grisham topped the New York Times Bestsellers list.

Weekly question: How much per acre did the United States pay for Alaska in 1867?

Submit your answer at triviapeople.com/test and we’ll add the name of the person with the first correct answer to our winner’s wall … at triviapeople.com. We’ll have the correct answer on Friday’s episode.



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