Tag: MWC

Quest for the Grail – Hockey and its Championship Cups

In 1893 we see the establishment of Ice Hockey’s premier sporting trophy; the Stanley Cup! While it is now considered the premier trophy for hockey, Lord Stanley’s mug was not the first trophy awarded. The first hockey trophy and cup was awarded for winning the Montreal Winter Carnival Hockey Tournament, appropriately called the Carnival Cup.


Carnival Cup (MWC 1883)


When the AHAC was formed, it needed its own championship trophy and adopted a very ice hockey symbolized design with crossed hockey sticks crowning it. It differed from the Carnival Cup by not being a cup and was appropriately called the Senior Championship Trophy.


Senior Championship Trophy (AHAC 1887)


Since the Senior Championship Trophy was property of the AHAC, a new trophy was needed to symbolize hockey supremacy across a growing sport and growing nation. The Stanley Cup was originally named the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup.


Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup a.k.a the Stanley Cup (inter-league champion 1893)


When the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup was donated and competed for, there was officially and unofficially only amateur teams playing for it. As industrialization and wealth spread across North America, the desire to pay to see high level hockey took root and by 1909 we had an official split of professional and amateur hockey championships. The amateur teams formed their own league to play for the Allan Cup in 1909. The professional teams then challenged each other for the Stanley Cup. By 1926 the National Hockey League became the sole professional hockey league and the Stanley Cup became the league’s championship trophy. Today, the Stanley Cup is 124 years old and is considered to be one of sport’s top trophies. Hockey further cemented its love for Cups by having its top minor league compete for the Calder Cup in 1936.

I speculate that ice hockey adopted the championship cup from Britain’s sports traditions. Canada was a British colony and adopted many of its social traditions including having a cup become its championship trophy. The British cup tradition is best enshrined in its football (soccer) league competing for the FA Cup every year since 1871.

It is not lost on me the shared symbolism of sporting campaigns leading to championship cups and heroic tales of knights questing for a chalice. The Stanley CupDavis Cup, America’s Cup and numerous World Cups are all now famous cup-shaped/themed trophies given to sport’s winners.


Our modern society keeps alive the symbolism of a Holy Grail (a carry-over from Arthurian literature) rewarding the finder happiness, eternal youth, or food in infinite abundance. Such an accomplishment becomes retold year after year, again not unlike children’s tales that are ritually retold.

Team: Montreal Wanderers (1884)



Montreal Wanderers (1884)


In the 1880s there was a few teams called the Wanderers hailing from Montreal. The team that forfeited two of their three games in 1884 is not the same organization that played such an important role in Hockey in the early 1900s. This team shared the Wanderers name, but that is all.




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Team: Montreal Football Club


Montreal Football Club


Back in the day when athletic clubs kept in shape by playing in different sports, the Montreal Football Club played hockey in the winter months. Besides lending a critical hand in helping establish Ice Hockey, the Montreal Football Club played only a single game in a single season in 1885 at the premier hockey level. They went on to play a critical role in Canadian Football.



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Team: McGill University Hockey Club


McGill University H.C. was an elite hockey club that was formed by students who played at Montreal’s McGill University. This team helped establish Ice Hockey by playing in the earliest games and played to a high enough level to win the first ever Montreal Winter Carnival Tournament in 1883. By the end of the 1880s it had stopped playing in the top leagues and instead switched over to recreational and college competitions.


McGill University


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McGill University H.C. has the distinction of being the first ever team to win a premier league championship after seven seasons of play in two different leagues. McGill had two of its Montreal Winter Carnival seasons cancelled and when it played in its first and only full round-robin season in 1888 it was painfully evident that it could no longer compete at the premier league level.


Team: Montreal Crystals



Montreal Crystals

The Montreal Crystals was a hockey club that played for the first decade of premier league hockey. In 1887 they were the first team to win the AHAC championship but had the unfortunate distinction of winning it despite having a poor record by virtue of winning the final challenge game. This created enough controversy that the AHAC instituted in 1888 a round-robin season.

The Crystals went on a identity crisis during the later years, adopting the monikers (Domions and Crescents) before returning back to the Crystals. The club and team then folded and the best pieces would be picked up by the Montreal Shamrocks in 1895.



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