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Stanley Cup

The Stanley Cup is the oldest existing trophy to be awarded to a professional sports franchis in North America. The trophy is awarded annually to the winner of the National Hockey League (NHL) playoffs. The trophy was originally commissioned by Lord Stanley of Preston, the Governor General of Canada, in 1892 as the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup. Lord Stanley donated it to reward Canada’s top-ranking amateur hockey club.

The first Cup was awarded in 1893 to Montreal Hockey Club, and winners from 1893 to 1914 were determined by challenge games and league play. Professional teams first became eligible to challenge for the Stanley Cup in 1906. In 1915, the National Hockey Association (NHA) and the Pacific Coast Hockey Association (PCHA), the two main professional ice hockey organizations, reached a gentlemen’s agreement in which their respective champions would face each other annually for the Stanley Cup. It was established as the de facto championship trophy of the NHL in 1926 and then the de jure NHL championship prize in 1947.

2021-22 Defending Champions: Tampa Bay Lightning

Deeper Dive

Steven Stamkos Tampa Bay Lightning 2020 Stanley Cup
Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning hoists the 2020 Stanley Cup. (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

Stanley Cup Winners (since 1927)

YearWinnerRunner-UpGames
1927Ottawa SenatorsBoston Bruins2-0-2
1928New York RangersMontreal Maroons3-2
1929Boston BruinsNew York Rangers2-0
1930Montreal CanadiensBoston Bruins2-0
1931Montreal CanadiensChicago Black Hawks3-2
1932Toronto Maple LeafsNew York Rangers3-0
1933New York RangersToronto Maple Leafs3-1
1934Chicago Black HawksDetroit Red Wings3-1
1935Montreal MaroonsToronto Maple Leafs3-0
1936Detroit Red WingsToronto Maple Leafs3-1
1937Detroit Red WingsNew York Rangers3-2
1938Chicago Black HawksToronto Maple Leafs3-1
1939Boston BruinsToronto Maple Leafs4-1
1940New York RangersToronto Maple Leafs4-2
1941Boston BruinsDetroit Red Wings4-0
1942Toronto Maple LeafsDetroit Red Wings4-3
1943Detroit Red WingsBoston Bruins4-0
1944Montreal CanadiensChicago Black Hawks4-0
1945Toronto Maple LeafsDetroit Red Wings4-3
1946Montreal CanadiensBoston Bruins4-1
1947Toronto Maple LeafsMontreal Canadiens4-2
1948Toronto Maple LeafsDetroit Red Wings4-0
1949Toronto Maple LeafsDetroit Red Wings4-0
1950Detroit Red WingsNew York Rangers4-3
1951Toronto Maple LeafsMontreal Canadiens4-1
1952Detroit Red WingsMontreal Canadiens4-0
1953Montreal CanadiensBoston Bruins4-1
1954Detroit Red WingsMontreal Canadiens4-3
1955Detroit Red WingsMontreal Canadiens4-3
1956Montreal CanadiensDetroit Red Wings4-1
1957Montreal CanadiensBoston Bruins4-1
1958Montreal CanadiensBoston Bruins4-2
1959Montreal CanadiensToronto Maple Leafs4-1
1960Montreal CanadiensToronto Maple Leafs4-0
1961Chicago Black HawksDetroit Red Wings4-2
1962Toronto Maple LeafsChicago Black Hawks4-2
1963Toronto Maple LeafsDetroit Red Wings4-1
1964Toronto Maple LeafsDetroit Red Wings4-3
1965Montreal CanadiensChicago Black Hawks4-3
1966Montreal CanadiensDetroit Red Wings4-2
1967Toronto Maple LeafsMontreal Canadiens4-2
1968Montreal CanadiensSt. Louis Blues4-0
1969Montreal CanadiensSt. Louis Blues4-0
1970Boston BruinsSt. Louis Blues4-0
1971Montreal CanadiensChicago Black Hawks4-3
1972Boston BruinsNew York Rangers4-2
1973Montreal CanadiensChicago Black Hawks4-2
1974Philadelphia FlyersBoston Bruins4-2
1975Philadelphia FlyersBuffalo Sabres4-2
1976Montreal CanadiensPhiladelphia Flyers4-0
1977Montreal CanadiensBoston Bruins4-0
1978Montreal CanadiensBoston Bruins4-2
1979Montreal CanadiensNew York Rangers4-1
1980New York IslandersPhiladelphia Flyers4-2
1981New York IslandersMinnesota North Stars4-1
1982New York IslandersVancouver Canucks4-0
1983New York IslandersEdmonton Oilers4-0
1984Edmonton OilersNew York Islanders4-1
1985Edmonton OilersPhiladelphia Flyers4-1
1986Montreal CanadiensCalgary Flames4-1
1987Edmonton OilersPhiladelphia Flyers4-3
1988Edmonton OilersBoston Bruins4-0
1989Calgary FlamesMontreal Canadiens4-2
1990Edmonton OilersBoston Bruins4-1
1991Pittsburgh PenguinsMinnesota North Stars4-2
1992Pittsburgh PenguinsChicago Blackhawks4-0
1993Montreal CanadiensLos Angeles Kings4-1
1994New York RangersVancouver Canucks4-3
1995New Jersey DevilsDetroit Red Wings4-0
1996Colorado AvalancheFlorida Panthers4-0
1997Detroit Red WingsPhiladelphia Flyers4-0
1998Detroit Red WingsWashington Capitals4-0
1999Dallas StarsBuffalo Sabres4-2
2000New Jersey DevilsDallas Stars4-2
2001Colorado AvalancheNew Jersey Devils4-3
2002Detroit Red WingsCarolina Hurricanes4-1
2003New Jersey DevilsMighty Ducks of Anaheim4-3
2004Tampa Bay LightningCalgary Flames4-3
2005Season cancelledLockout
2006Carolina HurricanesEdmonton Oilers4-3
2007Anaheim DucksOttawa Senators4-1
2008Detroit Red WingsPittsburgh Penguins4-2
2009Pittsburgh PenguinsDetroit Red Wings4-3
2010Chicago BlackhawksPhiladelphia Flyers4-2
2011Boston BruinsVancouver Canucks4-3
2012Los Angeles KingsNew Jersey Devils4-2
2013Chicago BlackhawksBoston Bruins4-2
2014Los Angeles KingsNew York Rangers4-1
2015Chicago BlackhawksTampa Bay Lightning4-2
2016Pittsburgh PenguinsSan Jose Sharks4-2
2017Pittsburgh PenguinsNashville Predators4-2
2018Washington CapitalsVegas Golden Knights4-1
2019St. Louis BluesBoston Bruins4-3
2020Tampa Bay LightningDallas Stars4-2
2021Tampa Bay LightningMontreal Canadiens4-1
Jean Beliveau
Montreal Canadiens Jean Beliveau, left, and John Ferguson fill up the Stanley Cup Trophy with champagne after defeating the St. Louis Blues in the 1969 Stanley Cup Finals on May 4, 1969, in St. Louis, Missouri. The Canadiens have won the most Stanley Cups with 24 (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

Stanley Cup History (1893-1926)

Challenge Cup Era (1893-1914)

The origins of the Challenge era come from the method of play of the Amateur Hockey Association of Canada prior to 1893. From 1887 to 1893, the league did not play a round-robin format, but rather challenges between teams of the association that year, with the winner of the series being the ‘interim’ champion, with the final challenge winner becoming the league champion for the year. The Stanley Cup kept the tradition going, but added league championships as another way that a team could win the trophy. If a team in the same league as the current champion won the league championship, it would then inherit the Cup, without a challenge. The only time this rule was not followed was in 1904, when the Ottawa Senators club withdrew from its league, the CAHL. The trustees ruled that the Cup stayed with Ottawa, instead of the CAHL league champion.

In 1908, the Allan Cup was introduced as the trophy for Canada’s amateur teams, and the Stanley Cup because the symbol of professional hockey supremacy.

DateWinnerRunner-UpFormatScore
March 17, 1893Montreal Hockey ClubAHAC Champion
March 22, 1894Montreal Hockey ClubOttawa HCChallenge Game3-1
March 9, 1895Montreal Hockey ClubQueen’s UniversityChallenge Game5-1
March 9, 1895Montreal VictoriasAHAC Champion
February 14, 1896Winnipeg VictoriasMontreal VictoriasChallenge Game2-0
February 29, 1896Winnipeg VictoriasMHA Champion
December 30, 1896Montreal VictoriasWinnipeg VictoriasChallenge Game6-5
March 6, 1897Montreal VictoriasAHAC Champion
December 27, 1897Montreal VictoriasOttawa CapitalsChallenge Game15-2
March 5, 1898Montreal VictoriasAHAC Champion
February 15-18, 1899Montreal VictoriasWinnipeg VictoriasTwo-Game, Total Goals5-3
March 4, 1899Montreal ShamrocksCAHL Champion
March 14, 1899Montreal ShamrocksQueen’s UniversityChallenge Game6-2
February 12-15, 1900Montreal ShamrocksWinnipeg VictoriasBest-of-Three2-1
March 7, 1900Montreal ShamrocksHalifax CrescentsBest-of-Three2-0
March 10, 1900Montreal ShamrocksCAHL Champion
January 29-31, 1901Winnipeg VictoriasMontreal ShamrocksBest-of-Three2-0
February 19, 1901Winnipeg VictoriasWinnipeg HCChallenge Game4-3
January 21-23, 1902Winnipeg VictoriasToronto WellingtonsBest-of-Three2-0
March 1902Winnipeg VictoriasMHA Champions
March 13-17, 1902Montreal HCWinnipeg VictoriasBest-of-Three2-1
January 29-February 4, 1903Montreal HCWinnipeg VictoriasBest-of-Three2-1
March 7-10, 1903Ottawa HCMontreal VictoriasTwo-Game, Total Goals9-1
March 12-14, 1903Ottawa HCRat Portage ThistlesTwo-Game, Total Goals10-4
December 30, 1903, to January 4, 1904Ottawa HCWinnipeg Rowing ClubBest-of-Three2-1
February 23-25, 1904Ottawa HCToronto MarlborosBest-of-Three2-0
March 2, 1904Ottawa HCMontreal WanderersTwo-Game, Total GoalsSee Note 1
March 9-11, 1904Ottawa HCBrandon Wheat CitiesBest-of-Three2-0
January 13-16, 1905Ottawa HCDawson City NuggetsBest-of-Three2-0
March 3, 1905Ottawa HCFAHL Champions
March 7-11, 1905Ottawa HCRat Portage ThistlesBest-of-Three2-1
February 27-28, 1906Ottawa HCQueen’s UniversityBest-of-Three2-0
March 6-8, 1906Ottawa HCSmiths Falls HCBest-of-Three2-0
March 14-17, 1906Montreal WanderersOttawa HCTwo-Game, Total Goals12-10
December 27-29, 1906Montreal WanderersNew Glasgow CubsTwo-Game, Total Goals17-5
January 21-23, 1907Kenora ThistlesMontreal WanderersTwo-Game, Total Goals12-8
March 16-18, 1907Kenora ThistlesBrandon Wheat CitiesBest-of-Three2-0
March 23-25, 1907Montreal WanderersKenora ThistlesTwo-Game, Total Goals12-8
January 9-13, 1908Montreal WanderersOttawa VictoriasTwo-Game, Total Goals22-4
March 7, 1908Montreal WanderersECAHA Champions
March 10-12, 1908Montreal WanderersWinnipeg Maple LeafsTwo-Game, Total Goals20-8
March 14, 1908Montreal WanderersTorontoChallenge Game6-4
December 28-30, 1908Montreal WanderersEdmonton Hockey ClubTwo-Game, Total Goals13-10
March 6, 1909Ottawa HCECHA Champions
January 5-7, 1910Ottawa HCGalt HCTwo-Game, Total Goals15-4
January 18-20, 1910Ottawa HCEdmonton Hockey ClubTwo-Game, Total Goals21-11
March 9, 1910Montreal WanderersNHA Champion
March 12, 1910Montreal WanderersBerlin DutchmenChallenge Game7-3
March 10, 1911Ottawa HCNHA Champions
March 13, 1911Ottawa HCGalt HCChallenge Game7-4
March 16, 1911Ottawa HCPort Arthur BearcatsChallenge Game13-4
March 5, 1912Quebec BulldogsNHA Champions
March 11-13, 1912Quebec BulldogsMoncton VictoriasBest-of-Three2-0
March 5, 1913Quebec BulldogsNHA Champions
March 8-10, 1913Quebec BulldogsSydney MillionairesTwo-Game, Total Goals20-5
March 7-11, 1914Toronto Hockey ClubMontreal CanadiensTwo-Game, Total Goals6-2
March 14-19, 1914Toronto Hockey ClubVictoria AristocratsBest-of-Five3-0

NOTES: 1. The Montreal Wanderers were disqualified as the result of a dispute. After game one ended tied at the end of regulation, 5–5, the Wanderers refused to play overtime with the current referee, and then subsequently refused to play the next game of the series in Ottawa.

NHA/NHL vs. PCHA/WCHL/WHL winners (1915-1926)

Around the turn of the century, professional teams started to dominate the competition. In 1913, the National Hockey Association (NHA) and Pacific Coast Hockey Association (PCHA) agreed to have their respective champions face each other in an annual series.

After the Toronto Hockey Club/Victoria Aristocrats series in 1914, the NHA, PCHA and Maritime league agreed to a series of matches to be played for the Stanley Cup. The Maritime folded after the 1915 season. The Stanley Cup championship finals alternated between the East and the West each year, with games played alternately under NHA or PCHA rules.

After the New Westminster Royal moved to Portland in the summer of 1914 becoming the Portland Rosebuds, an American-based team, the trustees issued a statement that the Cup was no longer for the best team in Canada, but now for the best team in the world. In March 1916, the Rosebuds became the first American team to play in the Stanley Cup championship final. In 1917, the Seattle Metropolitans became the first American team to win the Cup. After that season, the NHA suspended operations and the National Hockey League (NHL) took its place.

The format for the Stanley Cup championship changed in 1922, with the creation of the Western Canada Hockey League (WCHL). Now three leagues competed for the Cup and this necessitated a semi-final series between two league champions, with the third having a bye directly to the final. In 1924, the PCHA folded and only the Vancouver and Victoria teams entered the WCHL. With the loss of the PCHA, the championship reverted to a single series.

YearWinnerRunner-UpGames
1915Vancouver MillionairesOttawa Senators3-0
1916Montreal CanadiensPortland Rosebuds3-2
1917Seattle MetropolitansMontreal Canadiens3-1
1918Toronto ArenasVancouver Millionaires3-2
1919Series CancelledSpanish Flu Epidemic
1920Ottawa SenatorsSeattle Metropolitans3-2
1921Ottawa SenatorsVancouver Millionaires3-2
1922Toronto St. ParticksVancouver Millionaires3-2
1923Ottawa SenatorsEdmonton Eskimos2-0
1924Montreal CanadiensCalgary Tigers2-0
1925Victoria CougarsMontreal Canadiens3-1
1926Montreal MaroonsVictoria Cougars3-1

Sources