Hockey Hall of Fame - Stanley Cup Journals: 2011, 33

2010-11 Stanley Cup Championship ring presented to members of the Boston Bruins.
2010-11 Stanley Cup Championship ring
presented to members of the Boston Bruins.
(Mike Bolt/Hockey Hall of Fame)
The tradition of handing out rings to Stanley Cup champions is not new. In fact, it wasn't really even a tradition until about fifty years ago.

The very first team to award Stanley Cup rings was, in fact, the very first Stanley Cup champions. The Montreal Hockey Club, the team loosely connected with the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association (MAAA), was awarded the Stanley Cup in 1893, based on winning the championship of the Amateur Hockey Association of Canada, a feat they accomplished for six consecutive years. The seven members of that championship team were presented with simple rings -- fifteen carat gold bands upon which were engraved a pair of crossed hockey sticks with a puck between them and the letters MHC above the sticks. Inside the band was the name of the player and 'champion 1888-93.' The ring belonging to that team's Billy Barlow is on permanent display at the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Through the years, teams occasionally awarded rings to their championship roster. The Ottawa Senators awarded players rings in 1927, the first season that the Stanley Cup was the exclusive domain of the National Hockey League.

Mark Recchi showing off his Boston Bruins Stanley Cup ring.
Mark Recchi showing off his Boston Bruins Stanley Cup ring. (Mike Bolt/Hockey Hall of Fame)
The Detroit Red Wings presented their players with rings after the 1937 and 1943 championships. The Toronto Maple Leafs first began the tradition of awarding rings in 1947. Throughout the 1960s when the Maple Leafs won the Stanley Cup (1962, 1963, 1964 and 1967), the players were awarded a ring the first time they were a part of the Stanley Cup-winning team, but in subsequent years, their ring would be amended with the additional year engraved on the shank and the single diamond on the face of the ring replaced with a larger one. Players who were a part of all four Maple Leaf championships in the 1960s would have a 0.87 carat diamond in their ring by 1967.

The first ring to commemorate a Stanley Cup win by the Montreal Canadiens was struck in 1959, but the rings were designed and paid for by the players themselves. Since 1959, Stanley Cup rings have been the norm, awarded almost every year. One exception to this rule was in 1971 when the Montreal Canadiens presented the players with colour television sets.

When the New York Islanders beat the Philadelphia Flyers to claim their first Stanley Cup championship in 1980, their ring included a single diamond set in a brilliant blue stone. When the Islanders repeated as Stanley Cup champions in 1981, their ring had two diamonds. The ring celebrating their third straight championship in 1982 had three diamonds and, when they swept the Edmonton Oilers in 1983 to complete their run of four consecutive Stanley Cup championships, each player received a ring with four diamonds. Other dynastic teams and repeat champions that followed the Islanders, including the Oilers and Pittsburgh Penguins, used this type of representation. The 1993 Montreal Canadiens included twenty-three diamonds on their ring -- one to represent each Stanley Cup win in their history.

Stanley Cup ring and case presented to Boston Bruins assistant equipment manager Matt Falconer.
Stanley Cup ring and case presented to Boston Bruins
assistant equipment manager Matt Falconer.
(Mike Bolt/Hockey Hall of Fame)
The Anaheim Ducks' ring from 2007 included a great deal of symbolism. On the face of the ring is a Stanley Cup made up of sixteen diamonds; one for each playoff win that brought them the championship. On the left shank, under the player's name, are fourteen stones -- one for each season since the Ducks entered the NHL. The first eleven stones are green, representing the eleven seasons that the team was owned by the Disney Corporation, and then there is one white stone representing the 2004-05 lockout season. The last two stones are orange and represent the ownership of Henry and Susan Samueli. The left shank also has a representation of the old Mighty Ducks of Anaheim logo bordered by the years '93 and '07. The right shank of the ring pays tribute to the 2007 season and includes the current team logo, a representation of the Stanley Cup, the team's record for the playoffs that year (16-5) and a banner inscribed with "California's first Cup." The ring contains a whopping 110 diamonds in total -- one for each of the 110 points the Ducks earned during the 2006-07 regular season.

That Anaheim Ducks' ring from 2007 initiated an exciting tradition. Since then, each Stanley Cup-winning team has awarded a ring to the Hockey Hall of Fame, in addition to their players, coaches, trainers, scouting staff, the medical staff and front office staff.

This year was no different.

The Boston Bruins designed a sensational championship ring for players, staff and the Hall of Fame.

L-R Jim
L-R Jim "Beets" Johnson, Keith Robinson and Matt Falconer of the Bruins hockey operations staff showing off their Stanley Cup rings while posing for a quick photo with the Stanley Cup. (Mike Bolt/Hockey Hall of Fame)
The ring itself is 14 kt. white gold. The crest features diamond-set images of the Bruins iconic 'B' logo, along with the Stanley Cup, fashioned in brilliant cut custom princess, princess and round diamonds. There are six larger round diamonds on the crest of the ring that represent the six Stanley Cup championships that the franchise has won. The diamond-covered top of the ring is framed on the left side by 'STANLEY CUP' and on the right side by 'CHAMPIONS.'

One shank is personalized with the player's last name and sweater number on an antique black background. That side also includes an image the Bruins' bear logo surrounded by six stones honouring the team as one of the Original Six franchises.

The opposite shank features a diamond-studded Stanley Cup framed on top by '2011' in gold and diamonds. The other Stanley Cup championships seasons - 1929, 1939, 1941, 1970 and 1972 -- also frame the Cup.

Inside each ring is Boston's playoff slogan: 'FULL 60+ TO HISTORY,' as well as the National Hockey League shield plus the four playoff opponents' logos and series scores.

The Boston Bruins' players and staff will now sport sensational, elaborate souvenirs of their 2010-11 season, and the Hockey Hall of Fame's Stanley Cup ring display has grown by one more extraordinary example.

Kevin Shea is the Editor of Publications and Online Features for the Hockey Hall of Fame.

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