May 21st, 2009

Stanley Cup

The Cup Runneth Over With Typos

I’ve been reading up on that holy grail of hockey, the Stanley Cup, and I’ve found a few interesting facts about the words inscribed upon it.

Let’s start with Frank Selke. He is memorialized on the Cup as “F.J. Selke (ass man)” (see below). Not that there’s anything wrong with that. The rest of the story is that Mr. Selke was the assistant manager of the 1945 Toronto Maple Leafs and the engraver saved himself a bit of work by abbreviating Selke’s full title.

The attitude of the NHL towards this error is that it is a part of history and one cannot change history, so older mistakes are left in situ. Included are such gaffes as the inscription for the 1942 Cup-winning Maple Leafs. Goalie Walter Broda is properly listed and, on a separate line, so is Turk Broda, which was merely Walter’s nickname.

Mistakes are still occasionally made in the Cup’s inscriptions, but these newer ones are corrected as soon as they are found, before they have a chance to pass into hockey lore. It is fair to say that they could cut down on the number of errors if they employed modern, computer-programmed laser-etching engraving tools, but in a charming nod to history, the NHL continues to employ good old hand engraving and hand-punched lettering. Considering that the Stanley Cup was first awarded to a championship hockey team in 1892, 25 years before the founding of the NHL, this strikes me as appropriate.
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