The Stanley Cup Hits DC: The Trophy’s Association Roots

The Stanley Cup, currently in the boisterous possession of the District of Columbia’s NHL team for the first time in the Capitals’ history, has its own association origin story.

Everyone knows Washington, DC, as home to the federal government. Associations Now readers know it as home to associations big and small. And this week, it’s the home of something entirely new to the city: the Stanley Cup.

In a victory that represents the culmination of more than a decade of work for the team under captain Alex Ovechkin, the Washington Capitals brought the Cup to DC for the first time in the team’s 44-year history.

The result is expected to be one of the rip-roaringest parades in the District outside of an election year, scheduled for Tuesday. Already, the Stanley Cup has taken a wide-ranging tour of the Nation’s Capital, hitting Nationals Park, the Georgetown waterfront, an Adams Morgan tattoo parlor, a long list of bars and restaurants, and Ovechkin’s house over the weekend. (He slept with the cup.)

The Stanley Cup has made a far longer journey than the one it made in DC over the weekend—and it all began with an association. As hockey was just getting started in Montreal in the late 19th century, Sir Frederick Arthur Stanley, the son of a British prime minister, became an early fan. He had a lavish trophy made and donated it to the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association, which awarded prize for the first time to the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association in 1893.

The trophy soon became an icon of the National Hockey League, which has bestowed the Cup on its champion nearly every year since 1926. If you’re a hockey fan, you know the tradition: The winning team takes possession of the Cup for a year, and each player and front-office employee gets to take it home for 24 hours. Which explains how it ended up in Ovi’s bed.

All the public partying with the Cup in DC is nothing new, as Pittsburgh Penguins fans will snarkily tell you. But the DC festivities may be setting a new gold standard for community engagement that any association would envy. (These bobbleheads are just icing—sorry about that—on the cake.)

For all of this, we in #ALLCAPS Nation say thank you to Lord Stanley and the small association in Canada that started it all.

The Washington Capitals' three Russian stars holding the Stanley Cup, from left: Dmitry Orlov, Alex Ovechkin, and Evgeny Kuznetsov. (via the Capitals' Facebook page)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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