Ice hockey prize has roots on Fylde

Boston Bruins players with the Stanley Cup

Boston Bruins players with the Stanley Cup

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It is one of the most iconic trophies in sport, currently being fought for by the top two teams in the National Hockey League – but did you know the Stanley Cup had links to the Fylde coast?

For the past week the Chicago Blackhawks and Tampa Bay Lightning have been locked in battle as they compete for the top trophy in North America’s National Hockey League.

Blackpool Seagulls ice hockey coach Gary Shearman, right, with son Harry at the National Hockey League Hall of Fame

Blackpool Seagulls ice hockey coach Gary Shearman, right, with son Harry at the National Hockey League Hall of Fame

Originally commissioned in 1892 as the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup, the trophy is named after Lord Stanley of Preston, then Governor General of Canada.

Before moving across the Atlantic, Lord Stanley served as Member of Parliament for Preston, later representing North Lancashire and Blackpool in the House of Commons.

Blackpool Seagulls Junior Ice Hockey coach Gary Shearman, pictured with the Stanley Cup in Toronto, Canada, explained its interesting past.

He added: “Blackpool’s Stanley Park got its title from Lord Stanley of Preston’s family name.

There is a lot of superstition which goes with the Stanley Cup. At the start of the play-offs players pledge not to shave and to grow beards

“There is a lot of superstition which goes with the Stanley Cup. At the start of the play-offs players pledge not to shave and to grow beards.

“It is a Stanley Cup beard going back to Lord Stanley – of course he used to have one. You can only shave it off when you get knocked out or win.”

After being selected by Queen Victoria to become Governor of Canada in 1888, Lord Stanley fell in love with ice hockey.

He bought a trophy in 1892 for the best amateur hockey team in Canada – the rose bowl on top of the trophy.

A Los Angeles Kings player with the Stanley Cup

A Los Angeles Kings player with the Stanley Cup

Sadly, Stanley never saw a Stanley Cup championship game and never presented the cup.

Although his term as Governor General ended in September 1893, he was forced to return to England after the death of his brother and died in 1908.

Mr Shearman, 52, added: “One of the traditions with the cup is that all the players of the winning team get to have their names engraved on the trophy – which explains its height – and they stay on for 71 years.

“A recent tradition also allows the winners 24 hours with the cup – some people eat and drink out of it.

Lord Stanley

Lord Stanley

“I was lucky to see it a few years ago in the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. It has a fantastic amount of history and heritage and it is amazing to think it has ties to the Fylde coast.”