In the traditional playoff structure, 16 teams play in an elimination tournament. The top three teams in each of the NHL’s four divisions are the top 12 teams in the playoffs, and the next four spots go to the top two remaining teams in each conference as wild cards. All playoff rounds are best of seven games.
The Montreal Canadiens have won the Stanley Cup a record 24 times.
Since 1893, there have only been two years without winning the Stanley Cup: 1919 and 2005.
The trophy is named after Lord Stanley of Preston, who was appointed by the Canadian Governor General Queen Victoria. Lord Stanley promoted amateur hockey competitions in Canada during the 19th century.
In 1892, he donated a trophy that was unveiled at a dinner in honor of the Ottawa Hockey Club.
The trophy was originally called the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup.
One level of the trophy has the names of all the players of the winning team engraved on it.
Since 1995, members of the winning teams have taken turns in the cup. Colleagues, including a Hockey Hall of Fame curator, view the trophy during their visit.
Over the years, the cup has been forgotten by the roadside and thrown into the canal. In 2017, the son of Pittsburgh Penguins striker Josh Archibald was named to the Cup. This wasn’t the Stanley Cup’s first baptism.
1893 – The Montreal Hockey Club of the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association won the first Stanley Cup.
1900-1910 – As amateur clubs give way to professional teams, the National Hockey Association, the forerunner of the NHL, begins overseeing a series of championship games. NHA teams compete against teams affiliated with the Pacific Coast Hockey Association and the winner of the series wins the Stanley Cup. American teams are beginning to compete in the tournament.
1917 – The National Hockey League was founded and Seattle became the first American team to win the Metropolitan Cup.
1919 – The Stanley Cup Finals have been canceled due to the Spanish flu epidemic.
1963 – A redesigned cup has been introduced, designed to be more durable than the original.
1993 – A replica has been made for display at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.
2005 – That NHL season and Stanley Cup Final have been canceled due to a labor dispute. The lockout ends when the NHL and NHL Players Association finalize a six-year collective bargaining agreement.
12 March 2020 – The coronavirus pandemic has cut short the 2019-2020 regular season after the NHL announced that all remaining games would be postponed indefinitely.
26 May 2020 – The NHL has published its “Return to Play Plan,” detailing how the league will resume play — “24 teams in 24 “hub” cities returning to the league’s qualifying round, one qualifying round and conference-based will compete in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.”