Biggest Events in Sports Stanley Cup Hockey Playoffs Part 1

About the Stanley Cup Playoffs history of the ice hockey championship and sporting event.

STANLEY CUP PLAY-OFFS

Although the majority of professional ice hockey teams today are located in the U.S., the game grew up in Canada, where it is the national sport. Hockey's greatest prize, the Stanley Cup trophy, was a gift from Lord Stanley of Preston, governor-general of Canada in the early 1890s, who was persuaded to donate a trophy in 1893 to be given each year to the best team in Canada. The first winner, was the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association, which defeated the Osgoode Hall team of Ottawa.

Since the establishment of the National Hockey League in 1917, the cup has been awarded to the champion team at the end of a series of play-offs. Twenty times in the last 60 years, that team has been the Montreal Canadiens, by far the most successful franchise. In 1977, after fashioning the best season record in NHL history (60-8-12), the Canadiens won again, defeating the Boston Bruins in four straight games before capacity crowds of 17,000-plus and millions of television viewers in Canada and the U.S.

Hockey is a game of records, some official and others less so. Unofficially, the fastest skater was Bobby Hull, who moved across the ice at 29.7 mph. One of his slap shots was timed traveling 118.3 mph. Gordie Howe holds most of the official NHL records. After 25 years in the league, including play-offs, he had scored 786 goals, 1,023 assists, and 1,809 points. But near the end of his career he asserted that he would give up any of these statistics for the Stanley Cup--"the big mug."

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