Friday, May 29, 2009

STANLEY CUP: PITTSBURGH PRIMER 'N AT


Everybody knows that the Penguins will be playing game one of the Stanley Cup Finals tomorrow (Saturday) night. But do you really know what these players have been fighting for?

That's why the editorial staff here at "Pittsburgh's Black and Gold" decided that to be on the safe side, we should give you a little background information so as to make you better-informed fans. So without further adieu (as they would say in Canada) here is:

"YINZ PITTSBURGHERS' STANLEY CUP PRIMER 'N AT"

Of course most Pittsburghers know that the Stanley Cup was named after Lord Stanley, but who was this guy and why does everyone want his cup?

ABOVE: The man who inspired the memorable phrase, "Lord Stanley, Lord Stanley. Give me your brandy!"

Lord Stanley of Preston was actually the Governor General of Canada from 1888-1893. He was the youngest son of the 14th Earl of Derby (England). Stanley was quite the accomplished man. He graduated from prestigious Eton College and was a member of the Grenadier Guards. He was a member of Parliament and three times was elected prime minister. He was named Lord of the Admiralty and also Secretary of State for War and subsequently Secretary of State for the Colonies. He was also named President of the British Board of Trade. As you can see, Lord Stanley was quite the guy.
ABOVE: Just try getting one of these today! This is Lord Stanley's signature. Since he was known as the "Earl of Derby," he simply signed autographs as "Derby". Pretty cool!

Stanley was married and the father of eight children (two died in infancy) so it's safe to say that he was great at just about everything it seemed. At age 47, in 1888 Queen Victoria selected him to be the Governor General of Canada. During Stanley's tenure in Canada he often toured the country by train speaking of Canadian unity and spirit. In 1889 something very significant occurred. Lord Stanley saw a new game being played for the first time at the Montreal Winter Carnival. The game was called hockey. He was so immediately taken with it that he began organizing games with parliament employees. Stanley even formed a team called the Rideau (Montreal) Rebels and went so far as to introduce the game to new areas such as Toronto and Ottawa.


ABOVE: The original trophy that was named "The Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup".

Stanley and two of his Rebel players would go on to establish the Ontario Hockey Association and he was eventually encouraged by two of his sons to donate a trophy for the teams to compete for. He called it the "Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup" but the name lasted just one year before people preferred calling it the "Stanley Cup".

ABOVE: The first Stanley Cup team. Notice that players back then only grew playoff moustaches.

In 1893 Stanley's brother died, so he received permission to come home to tend to his family's estates. He then became the 16th Earl of Derby when he returned. In subsequent years he would become First Lord Mayor of Greater Liverpool, the Mayor of Preston and the first Chancellor of Liverpool University.

On June 14th, 1908, the Earl died of a massive heart attack after having taken a walk. He died as one of the richest men in the world, but ironically, he never once saw the famous trophy that bore his name.

Lord Stanley was an aficionado of fine malts and whisky which led Penguin Broadcaster Mike Lange to loudly proclaim for the first time in 1991, "Lord Stanley, Lord Stanley, give me your brandy" once the Pens won their first cup. Lange has subsequently used that line repeatedly to acquire free drinks wherever he goes.

The Mario Lemieux-led Penguins won back-to-back cups in '91 and '92. There was a drought between '92 and '08 in appearances in the finals. Last year marked the first time that the team advanced as far as the finals without winning it all. Pittsburgh lore has it that at a team party at Mario Lemieux's house the cherished trophy somehow wound up on the bottom of Mario's pool in 1991!

So this brings you up to date on the Stanley Cup other than the fact that Montreal has won about 300 cups and Detroit has around 20 of their own. We'd like to see Sid and Gino gather in about 10 or so during their Pittsburgh careers, so there's no time like the present to get going.


Below now, for your enjoyment, are some additional Stanley Cup photos we've culled from our archives. We'll call them:

LORD STANLEY'S PERSONAL PHOTO GALLERY



ABOVE: Sid and Gino. Yeah, they'll be questing for the cup alright!


ABOVE: There it is, the one thing that can make grown cry when they don't win it.



ABOVE: Who doesn't get a lump in their throat when they see this message buried under the ice for the first time each season?

ABOVE: "Heroes" actress Hayden Panetierre (a.k.a. the cheerleader) engages one of her own fantasies and becomes the first person ever to lick the Stanley Cup, immediately transforming it from trophy to phallic symbol.

ABOVE: "Mini-Me" actor Verne Troyer tries, unsuccessfully, to measure up to the Stanley Cup. He does, however, measure up to the woman in the background.


ABOVE: A New York fan resembling "Mr. Irrelevant," former PG sportswriter Bob Smizik, takes a cell phone picture. Should be a keeper!


ABOVE: A Columbus Bluejackets fan, no less, carries an inflatable cup to a first round game. There's no law against dreaming, even in Ohio.

ABOVE: The only thing I envision being cooked in the Cup this year is octopus, a delicious dish when served with a dressing of chopped garlic, parsley, extra virgin olive oil and wine vinegar. Delicioso!