When Did The Stanley Cup Playoffs Begin?
With the puck dropping on the Stanley Cup playoffs earlier this week, you may be wondering when the Stanley Cup playoffs began. In 1892, Governor General of Canada Lord Stanley of Preston donated the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup, now called the Stanley Cup, as an award to the best college ice hockey team in Canada. It wasn’t until 1915 that professional leagues played for the cup when the National Hockey Association and the Pacific Coast Hockey Association agreed to have a championship for the cup.
In 1917, the NHL formed and their teams became eligible to fight for the cup. In the early days, the original playoff formats were absolutely confusing. Teams from the NHL, the PCHA and the Western Canada Hockey League fought over the cup in strange playoff systems that changed nearly every year due to traveling expenses among other disputes. One year, the WCHL and PCHA played against each other with the winner moving on to the finals, while the loser had to play the NHL team to fill the second team in the finals. The WCHL and PCHA merged in 1925, but folded only a year later. Since 1926, the NHL has been the only league to compete for the prestigious trophy.
During its long history, players believe that if they touched the cup before actually winning it, that they would be doomed with a life of never winning the cup. When players win the cup, however, everything goes out the window. Since 1995, players are allowed to take the cup out for a day. It’s been across Europe and North America. Steve Yzerman took the cup for a jet ski ride. Sylvain Lefebvre baptized his daughter in the cup’s bowl. Most notably, Mario Lemieux, Pittsburgh Penguin hall-of-famer and current owner of the team, had pool parties with the cup.