The Stanley Cup is the size of a toddler but so much older. It has been handed out to championship hockey teams since 1893 and to the top club in the NHL since 1926.
One of the greatest joys for any player is to have his name engraved on the trophy, which has happened every year since 1925 when the Victoria Cougars of the Western Canada Hockey League defeated the Montreal Canadiens of the NHL.
To this point, 3,385 names have been etched on the Stanley Cup over the past 96 years, but only one – Basil Pocklington – has been removed. He was the father of Peter Pocklington, the maverick owner of the Edmonton Oilers, but had nothing to do with the team.
That didn’t stop Peter from having his dad’s name scratched into its side in 1984 after the Oilers claimed their first Stanley Cup, nor did it stop the NHL from placing 16 silver xxs across his name once they discovered what he did.
The Stanley Cup is so revered that it has its own full-time keeper. The trophy itself is the property of the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.
Now Rocky Wirtz, the owner of the Chicago Blackhawks, has asked the Hall of Fame to remove the name of former video coach Brad Aldrich from the Stanley Cup the team was awarded in 2010. Aldrich has been accused of sexually assaulting one of the team’s young players, Kyle Beach, after he was called up from the minor leagues during that year’s playoffs.
“Aldrich’s involvement with the team during the 2010 season has cast a pall on the players’ extraordinary work that year,” Wirtz wrote in a letter to Hall of Fame chairman Lanny McDonald. “The names of some of hockey’s most talented athletes appear on the Stanley Cup. But so does the name ‘Brad Aldrich’ whose role as video coach made him eligible for the engraving. His conduct disqualified him, however, and it was a mistake to submit his name. We are sorry we allowed it to happen.
“I am humbly requesting that the Hockey Hall of Fame consider ‘X-ing’ out his name. While nothing can undo what he did, leaving his name on the most prestigious trophy in sports seems profoundly wrong.”
In turn, McDonald spoke on Friday about the request with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and his deputy, Bill Daly. The NHL is the only one with the authority to change the Cup.
“The parties agree that this request is appropriate and that they will have further dialogue, including with the Stanley Cup trustees, on how best to effectuate this request,” the Hockey Hall of Fame said in a statement.
Beach filed a lawsuit against the Blackhawks in May, prompting the club to hire a Chicago law firm to investigate the way it handled Beach’s complaint. The findings of that report, which was released on Tuesday, have led to resignations from Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman and Joel Quenneville, the team’s former coach.
Over the years, a number of errors have occurred in the engravings to the Stanley Cup. In 1941-42, Turk Broda of the Maple Leafs was represented twice – once as Turk and a second time as Walter. From 1956 through 1960, the Canadiens won the Stanley Cup five successive times. The name of Montreal’s goalie – Jacques Plante – was spelled differently each time.