THE STANLEY CUP: A BRIEF HISTORY
Lord Stanley of Preston must have been a hockey fan, because in 1892 the Canadian Governor-General paid about $50 for a trophy and declared it a "challenge cup" to be held by the best amateur hockey team in Canada. It came to be known, naturally, as the Stanley Cup.
In its early days the Stanley Cup was not the property of any single hockey league. As a challenge cup, it changed hands in much the same way as a boxing title. The Cup-holders accepted challenges from other clubs and kept it as long as they could fend off all comers. This is why some years show more than one Stanley Cup winner.
The Stanley Cup officially turned pro in 1910, when the National Hockey Association took possession of it. Since 1926 it has been the exclusive prize of the champions of the National Hockey League.
In November 1917 in Montréal, the NHL, the major professional ice hockey league, was formed from the National Hockey Association, which had been established in 1909. The NHL comprises teams from the United States and Canada, and for many years almost all NHL players were natives of Canada. In recent years, however, more players from Europe and the United States have become NHL players. NHL teams compete for the Stanley Cup, a trophy awarded annually from 1893 to 1925 for amateur competition and since 1926 for professional play.