Hull, Mikita, Pilote to bid farewell to the Cup

In a couple of weeks, the Stanley Cup, hockey’s ultimate prize (and best trophy in all of major sports ever) will lose some of its more prominent names.

The top band of the Cup, holding the names of Stanley Cup champions from 1954-1965, will be removed this summer.  This is to make room for a brand new band near the base of the Cup.  Names like Gordon Howe and Maurice Richard will now be gone from the Cup.

And so will Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita, and the rest of the Chicago Black Hawks that won the Cup back in 1961.  Along with Hull and Mikita, the Cup will also bid farewell to the names of other Black Hawks legends like Pierre Pilote, Ab McDonald, Eric Nesterenko and team captain Ed Litzenberger.  Litzenberger is also part of the ’62, ’63 and ’64 Cup teams for the Toronto Maple Leafs. 

Glenn Hall, who backstopped the Black Hawks in ’61, will still have his name in the Cup, as he was the goalie coach to Mike Vernon and his 1989 Calgary Flames.

The Stanley Cup, as every hockey fan knows, is unique among all the the major sports trophies.  The NHL does not produce a Cup every year for every champion.  It gets passed along year after year.  It is also the only trophy that includes the name of every player who wins it in each season, although those names come and go.

Each band carries 13 years’ worth of Stanley Cup champions.  When the bottom band gets full, the top band is removed, flattened, and displayed in the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, Canada.  In theory, a player’s name can last in the Cup for a maximum of 65 years.

The band that contains Howe, Richard, Hull and Mikita and the rest of the ’61 Black Hawks, along with much of Toe Blake’s Montreal Canadiens’ dynastic runs and three of Punch Imlach’s four Cups with the Toronto Maple Leafs, will be displayed along with the two previous bands that were removed before, carrying the names of Stanley Cup champions from 1927-1940 and 1941-1953.

Other notes:

Toews not playing tonight

Despite reports that came out Monday, head coach Joel Quenneville has ruled out Jonathan Toews from tonight’s game versus the St. Louis Blues.  He expects him to draw in though in Friday night’s regular season home finale, also against the Blues.  Toews also indicated Tuesday that he will not play for Team Canada in this summer’s World Championships.

Kane and Saad say maybe to Team USA

While Toews has made his decision known, it is still unknown whether Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad will suit up for Team USA at the World Championships this summer.  Kane, along with Saad, have said that they are still thinking about the possibility of representing the United States in the tournament.  If they do decide to go for it, other American-born Blackhawks like Alex DeBrincat, Vinnie Hinostroza and Connor Muphy are all on the record saying that they will attempt to join the roster as well.

Brother vs. brother

Tonight will be the first time that Nick Schmaltz will be facing off against his older brother Jordan Schmaltz in a NHL game.  The Schmaltzes have faced each other in the AHL last season, Nick for the Rockford Ice Hogs and Jordan, a defenseman, for the Chicago Wolves, then the minor league affiliate of the St. Louis Blues. 

When asked about the matchup, Nick said that he is aware that any win by his team will have major implications to thw Blues’ playoff hopes.  He said that he will play to win, but hopes that the Anaheim Ducks and the Colorado Avalanche, the other two teams in contention for the two wildcard spots, lose their games as well.  Jordan, for his part, said that these games are critical for his side, and that beating his little brother will just be the icing to the cake that is a playoff berth.

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