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From being worth $50 to the NHL taking control of it, here's a history of the Stanley Cup

About a century ago, the prestigious trophy started the tradition of engraving the winning team on the cup.
Credit: 10 Tampa Bay

TAMPA, Fla. — The 2022 Stanley Cup Final kicks off on Wednesday, June 15, as the Tampa Bay Lightning takes on the Colorado Avalanche.

The Bolts are four wins away from completing a "three-peat," while the Avalanche will look to win their third Stanley Cup in team history. 

As we reach the last stage in this year's season, here's a breakdown of how the prestigious competition reached its heights in today's sports world. 

The Pre-NHL Era 

Fun fact: The Stanley Cup was not always owned by the National Hockey League. 

It was not until 1926 that the NHL took complete control of the competition after it changed its original league name, which was known as the National Hockey Association. 

Going back about 30 years prior to that, the Stanley Cup competition was created in 1892 by Lord Stanley of Preston to crown the best hockey team in Canada. 

At the time, the trophy only cost $50 — a huge discount compared to today's $23,000 version of the cup. 

Initially, playoffs did not exist in the competition format of the early days until 1894 when the Montreal A.A.A. defeated the Montreal Victorias in the first Stanley Cup Playoff game ever. 

Also, any team at the time was allowed to challenge for the trophy at any point in the season, but that rule changed in 1912 when NHA formed and established the Cup will only be defended at the end of the regular season by the champions. 

In the NHA era, the Montreal Canadiens won the first of their 24 Stanley Cups when they defeated Portland in 1916 and the Seattle Metropolitans were the first team based in the United States to win the cup in 1917.

The only Stanley Cup to not have ever been played completely in history came in 1919 due to an influenza outbreak that saw the series between Seattle and Montreal canceled. 

As in many sports, the tradition of engraving the champion's name on the trophy for the Stanley Cup was introduced to the league in 1924.

Designs of the trophy over the years

The NHL took over the Stanley Cup competition in 1926 and the league also reformed the shape of the trophy.

The cup was originally formed as a long, cigar-shaped trophy. However, the design was then changed again in 1948 as a two-piece trophy, with a wide-shaped base and a moveable collar and bowl. 

The Stanley Cup trophy we see now was created in 1958.

Records broken, and still held, in the early NHL days

The Toronto Maple Leafs, a team that Tampa Bay defeated in this year's postseason, were the first NHL team to achieve a "three-peat" by winning three straight seasons in 1949. 

A team to break that record, and stills holds the accomplishment, was the Montreal Canadiens as they won their fifth consecutive Stanley Cup in 1960.

Other records broken in the NHL-era were New York Islanders players Anders Kallur and Stefan Persson becoming the first European-trained players to win the trophy in 1980 and Nicklas Lidstrom with the Detroit Red Wings becoming the first European-born captain to lift the trophy in 2008. 

Bolts 2022 Stanley Cup Fun Facts

Now, we can't talk about the Stanley Cup without bringing the Tampa Bay Lightning into the conversation.

The Bolts are on the hunt for a third consecutive Stanley Cup title, and the team and some key players are chasing some significant records. 

The Lightning can become the third franchise to win 12 straight playoff matchups if they defeat the Colorado Avalanche in the final.

Pat Maroon is hoping to become the 45th player in league history to win four cups in a row and Andrei Vasilevskiy can become the 10th goaltender to win three titles before the age of 30. 

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