The Golden Knights are four wins from lifting the world’s most prestigious champagne goblet.
The Stanley Cup, the 3-foot, 35-pound NHL championship trophy, is up for grabs when the Knights play the Florida Panthers in a best-of-seven series starting Saturday at T-Mobile Arena. Neither team has won the silver chalice, making this the sixth time since 1943-44 one side is guaranteed its first title.
Ironically, the last time this happened was the Knights’ five-game loss in the 2018 final to the Washington Capitals. This year’s matchup guarantees 21 of the NHL’s 32 franchises will have taken the Cup home at least once.
Before commissioner Gary Bettman presents it on the ice, here are five other facts about the history, lore and traditions of hockey’s ultimate prize:
1. Lord Stanley
The Cup gets its name from Sir Frederick Arthur Stanley, Lord Stanley of Preston and son of the 14th Earl of Derby, who as sixth Governor General of Canada donated it as an award to the top amateur hockey team in the country. It was first given to Montreal HC in 1893. Its prestige kept growing, though, and it became the de facto championship trophy of the NHL in 1926.
2. The rings
The winners of the Stanley Cup get their names engraved on the trophy’s rings each September to honor their achievement. Coaches, management and staff appear on the Cup, along with players who appeared in at least 41 regular-season games for the champions or at least one Stanley Cup Final game.
There are five rings on the trophy. Each can hold about 13 teams. When the bottom one gets full, the top ring is retired to the Hockey Hall of Fame and a new one is added.
3. The traditions
There are many rituals associated with the Cup, such as each member of the winning team getting a victory lap with it on the ice after it has been clinched. Players also will often drink champagne or other beverages from the top bowl in celebration.
Then, after the ceremonial victory parade, each member of the winning team gets a day with the Stanley Cup during the summer. Players often take it to their hometowns.
4. Canada’s dominance
The Montreal Canadiens have the most Stanley Cup titles with 24. The Toronto Maple Leafs have the second-most with 13.
But both franchises — and the entire country they play in — are in a dry spell. Montreal was the last Canadian team to win the Cup in 1993.
American clubs have won 28 straight since, a streak that will stretch to 29 this year.
The Detroit Red Wings are the U.S.-based team with the most Cups. They have 11, with the most recent in 2008.
5. The unlucky 12
The Knights and Panthers are Cup-less, but one is only 6 years old and the other started play in 1993.
Many other teams have waited a lot longer for their chance at glory.
The other active franchises without championships are the Vancouver Canucks (began play in 1970), Buffalo Sabres (1970), San Jose Sharks (1991), Ottawa Senators (1992), Arizona Coyotes (1979), Nashville Predators (1998), Winnipeg Jets (1999), Columbus Blue Jackets (2000), Minnesota Wild (2000) and Seattle Kraken (2021).
The Coyotes, Jets, Blue Jackets, Wild and Kraken are the only five teams that haven’t appeared in the final.