The Stanley Cup is Rife With Errors

Misspellings litter hockey's ultimate prize

A few weeks from now some group of bearded ice men will be skating around the ice with the Stanley Cup lifted high above their heads. The trophy will be kissed, used as a goblet and taken around the U.S. and Canada by tough guys who get tears in their eyes at the realization that their name will forever be engraved on the sport's ultimate prize. They just have to hope that their names are spelled correctly.

An article in Thursday's Wall Street Journal reveals that isn't a guarantee. Just ask fomer Avalanche forward Adam Deadmarsh, who cried when he realized that his name was spelled Deadmarch instead, or former Maple Leafs player Gaye Stewart who won two cups but didn't get his name spelled correctly either time. At least he didn't play for the 1971-72 Bqstqn Bruins or the 1980-81 New York Ilanders.

The problem lies with the process used to add names to the cup. Each letter is added by hand using small metal letters by a woman named Louise St. Jacques.

At the shop, the bands are removed from the cup and attached to a circular "jig" that's about the same shape and size as the cup. There, Ms. St. Jacques painstakingly hammers the 52 names into the bands using tiny metal letters. The process takes weeks, mainly because the spacing has to be perfect. "It demands a lot of concentration," says Ms. Jacques, who says mistakes are a constant source of anxiety. If the phone rings or somebody walks in, she says, "that can really do it to you."

It somehow fits that hockey, all too often the red-headed stepchild of North American professional sports, uses 19th century technology to care for the most important thing in their sport. It's also part of the reason why the Stanley Cup is the best trophy in pro sports. It feels like something more than an inanimate object, more like a living part of the game, and the mistakes don't do anything to take away from that feeling. 

The league has started fixing new errors, Deadmarsh's name is now spelled correctly, which is understandable. Still, it's kind of a shame that Sydney Crosby and Johan Fronzen won't bring a smile to future generations of hockey fans.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to and in addition to his duties for

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