The Clarkson Cup is an ice hockey trophy, which since 2009 has been awarded to the winner of the Canadian Women's Hockey Championship. Like the Stanley Cup, it was created by and named after a former Governor General of Canada: Adrienne Clarkson.
Though initially awarded in 2006 to the Canadian national women's hockey team, it was intended to be awarded to the top women's club in Canada. From 2006 to 2008, it was not awarded, owing to a number of rights issues between Clarkson, Hockey Canada, and the artists responsible for making the trophy. Beginning in 2009, the Clarkson Cup has been awarded, as intended, to the top women's club team.
When the 2004–05 NHL season was cancelled because of lockout, the Stanley Cup was not awarded for the first time since the 1918-19 Spanish Flu pandemic. In February 2005, Clarkson proposed that, since the Stanley Cup was to be awarded to the best professional hockey team of the year (even though there were Canadian teams in the American Hockey League, which plays for the Calder Cup), it should be awarded to the best women's hockey team because they were still playing. That idea was brought to Susan Fennell, the Commissioner of the National Women's Hockey League (and also Mayor of Brampton). In a media interview, Fennell commented that while the women had great respect for the Stanley Cup, it belonged to men's hockey, and that the women actually did have a cup of their own, but simply one with no name. Fennell then came up with the idea that the Governor General should consider lending her name to the women's hockey championship cup, as Lord Stanley had done years before for the men's hockey championship. Clarkson was thrilled with the idea and later met with Fennell at Rideau Hall, where it was agreed that the women's hockey championship trophy would be named the Clarkson Cup.
Originally, the NWHL Championship Cup was to have a new name placed on it. However, On September 14, 2005, Clarkson announced the creation of a new trophy for women's hockey.
The Clarkson Cup is made of silver and was designed by Nunavut Arctic College in Iqaluit. Canadian silversmith Beth M. Biggs was commissioned to make the Clarkson Cup. She designed and built the sterling trophy and collaborated with three Inuit artists: Okpik Pitseolak, Therese Ukaliannuk, and Pootoogook Qiatsuk. The Inuit artists designed some of the decoration on the trophy. There are images of Sedna (one of the most powerful figures in Inuit tradition), Arctic animals, ancient masks, and the flowers of the provinces and territories of Canada. The actual cup portion of the trophy is not much bigger than a large coffee mug.
The trophy was awarded to the Canadian national women's hockey team on July 10, 2006, with the expectation that Hockey Canada would take over the trophy and how it was to be awarded. However, complications arising due to the rights to the trophy (Clarkson wanting full rights to the trophy from the artists in order to turn the trophy over to Hockey Canada, while the artists wanting Hockey Canada to instead license the Cup in order to collect royalties from its use) and the splintered top level of women's club hockey at the time resulted in the trophy not being awarded for three years.
At the time of the creation of the Clarkson Cup, there were two top professional women's hockey leagues in Canada: the National Women's Hockey League in Eastern Canada and the Western Women's Hockey League in Western Canada (with one team from Minnesota) — the latter being formed from two former NWHL teams (the Calgary Oval X-Treme and Edmonton Chimos) due to travel costs, with no interleague championships to determine a true national champion. Though the two leagues were expected to merge in 2007 (with the five-team WWHL being absorbed into the 11-team NWHL as a new "western division"), logistics differences (due to playoff scheduling) made the merger impossible — the WWHL playoffs were finished before the Esso Women's Nationals, while the NWHL playoffs had yet to begin (and would not conclude until after the Nationals and the world championships). The NWHL folded at the conclusion of the 2006-07 season, with the Canadian Women's Hockey League taking its place. Though the CWHL and WWHL agreed on a format that would determine a national champion (to be decided with each league sending its two best teams to the Esso Women's Nationals, with the intent that it would be split off as a separate tournament from the senior women's tournament in the future), the Clarkson Cup remained unavailable — the Abby Hoffman Cup would be awarded in its place until the Clarkson Cup became available.
2009 to present
In March 2009, Clarkson and the artists behind the Clarkson Cup settled their licensing dispute, allowing the trophy to be presented. The inaugural Canadian National Women's Hockey Championship was held later that month, at the K-Rock Centre in Kingston, Ontario, featuring an identical format to that used for the Esso Women's Nationals the previous year for club teams. The Montreal Stars, champions from the East, prevailed over the Minnesota Whitecaps in the finals of the championship, which also saw the Brampton Canadettes-Thunder and the Calgary Oval X-Treme participate. Clarkson was on hand to present the trophy to the Stars upon their victory. Like the first Stanley Cup champion of 1893, the first Clarkson Cup champions come from Montreal.
The pedestal is engraved with hockey masks and base engraved with flowers of each province in Canada.
There is a single band that has the names and years of each winning team.
The championship game is not played in the home town of any of the CWHL teams, but at a neutral site.
|Edition||Date||Location||Winning Team||Losing Team||Score||Notes|
|2006||July 10||Westin Harbour Castle Hotel – Toronto, ON|
|Due to rights issues, the Cup was not award from 2006 to 2009. Instead the Abby Hoffman Cup was awarded in its place.|
|2009||March 21||K-Rock Centre – Kingston, ON||Montreal Stars||Minnesota Whitecaps||3–1|||
|2010||March 28||Elgin Barrow Arena – Richmond Hill, ON||Minnesota Whitecaps||Brampton Canadettes-Thunder||4–0|||
|2011||March 27||Barrie Molson Centre – Barrie, ON||Montreal Stars||Toronto Aeros||5–0|
|2012||March 25||Gale Centre – Niagara Falls, ON||Montreal Stars||Brampton Thunder||4–2|
|2013||March 23||Markham Centennial Centre - Markham, ON||Boston Blades||Montreal Stars||5-2|||
- List of awards presented by the Governor General of Canada
- List of awards named after Governors General of Canada
- Viceregal eponyms in Canada
- Clarkson Cup in limbo over ownership rights. Toronto Star, 31 October 2007
- IIHF, "Montreal wins first Clarkson Cup", 24 March 2009
- Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO), "Clarkson Cup" a/n:1310154 r/n:TMA773887 Canadian Trade-marks Database
- CBC Sports, "Montreal Stars win women's national hockey championship", 28 March 2008, Canadian Press
- IIHF, "Minnesota wins Clarkson Cup", 28 March 2010
- PucksWorld, "Minnesota Whitecaps: Clarkson Cup Champions", 27 June 2010, Bruce Peter
- CBC Sports, "Boston defeats Montreal to win Clarkson Cup", 23 March 2013, Canadian Press