Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup, 1903

Edited from Wikipedia entry:

Lord Stanley of Preston as Governor General of Canada became highly enthusiastic about ice hockey. Stanley was first exposed to the game at Montreal’s 1889 Winter Carnival, where he saw the Montreal Victorias play the Montreal Hockey Club.

Stanley’s entire family became active in ice hockey. Two of his sons, Arthur and Algernon, formed a new team called the Ottawa Rideau Hall Rebels. Arthur also played a key role in the formation of what later became known as the Ontario Hockey Association (OHA), and would go on to be the founder of ice hockey in Great Britain.

Arthur and Algernon persuaded their father to donate a trophy to be “an outward and visible sign of the hockey championship”. Stanley sent the following message to the victory celebration for the three-time OHA champion Ottawa Hockey Club:

“I have for some time been thinking that it would be a good thing if there were a challenge cup which should be held from year to year by the champion hockey team in the Dominion [of Canada].

There does not appear to be any such outward sign of a championship at present, and considering the general interest which matches now elicit, and the importance of having the game played fairly and under rules generally recognized, I am willing to give a cup which shall be held from year to year by the winning team.

I am not quite certain that the present regulations governing the arrangement of matches give entire satisfaction, and it would be worth considering whether they could not be arranged so that each team would play once at home and once at the place where their opponents hail from.”

The Winnipeg Victorias of the MHL was the initial Cup champions, and were issued a Cup challenge by the regular season champions of the CAHL in 1902, the Montreal Hockey Club. These matches took place during the 1903 CAHL season. The results of these matches was:

January 29, 1903 – Montreal Hockey Club (CAHL) 8-1 over Winnipeg Victorias (MHL) in Montreal.

January 31, 1903 – Montreal Hockey Club (CAHL) 2-2 tied Winnipeg Victorias (MHL) in Montreal. Game to be replayed.

February 2, 1903 – Winnipeg Victorias (MHL) 4-2 over Montreal Hockey Club (CAHL) in Winnipeg.

February 4, 1903 – Montreal Hockey Club (CAHL) 4-1 over Winnipeg Victorias (MHL) in Montreal.

Because this challenge took place during the 1903 CAHL season, the Montreal Hockey Club became the new cup champion and had to defend it during regular season play. The Montreal Hockey Club did not win the regular season, which saw the Ottawa Hockey Club and Montreal Victorias tied. They had to play a two game, total goals playoff. The results of these matches was:

March 7, 1903 – Ottawa Hockey Club 1 – 1 tied Montreal Victorias in Montreal.

March 10, 1903 – Ottawa Hockey Club 8 – 0 over Montreal Victorias in Ottawa.

Finally, the Ottawa Hockey Club were challenged by an upstart league/team from the west. The Rat Portage (Kenora) Thistles of the Manitoba North-West Hockey Association (MNWHA) were played at best of three series. The results of these matches was:

March 12, 1903 – Ottawa Hockey Club (CAHL) 6 – 2 over Rat Portage Thistles (MNWHA) in Ottawa.

March 14, 1903 – Ottawa Hockey Club (CAHL) 4 – 2 over Rat Portage Thistles (MNWHA) in Ottawa.

For their win, the Ottawa players would each receive a silver nugget. From that point on the team would also be known as the Silver Seven.

Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup to December 31, 1903
Team Start End Challengers # of days total days
Montreal Victorias (AHAC/CAHL) 1,075
Montreal Hockey Club (AHAC/CAHL) February 4, 1903 February 27, 1903 Defeated MHA 24 1,034
Winnipeg Victorias (MHA) January 1, 1903 February 3, 1903 Defeated by CAHL 34 764
Montreal Shamrocks (CAHL) 700
Ottawa Hockey Club (CAHL) February 28, 1903 December 31, 1903 CAHL win; play-off; Defeated MNWHA 307 307

There are actually three Stanley Cups in existence:
1) Stanley’s original Cup from 1892, known as the “Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup” was awarded until 1970, and is now on display in the Vault Room at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.
2) In 1963, NHL president Clarence Campbell believed that the original Cup had become too brittle to give to championship teams, so the “Presentation Cup” was created and is the well-known trophy awarded today.
3) The final Cup is a “Replica Presentation Cup”, which was created in 1993 by Montreal silversmith Louise St. Jacques and is used as a stand-in at the Hall of Fame when the Presentation Cup isn’t available.

Unlike other major league sports trophies, a new Cup isn’t made every year. Instead, after each championship, the names of the players, coaches, management, and staff of the winning team are added to the Cup. The first team to have its roster engraved was the 1906-07 Montreal Wanderers, whose names were etched within the inner bowl of the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup. The only other team names engraved on the inner bowl are the 1914-15 Vancouver Millionaires.

Al Young
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