Stanley Cup Finals

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This article is about the NHL championship series. For the NHL post-season in general, see Stanley Cup playoffs.
For the 2015 finals, see 2015 Stanley Cup Finals.
Stanley Cup Final
The Stanley Cup, being displayed at the Hockey Hall of Fame
The Stanley Cup is awarded to the winner of the championship series.
First awarded: 1893
Most recent: 2014

The Stanley Cup Final (also known as the Stanley Cup Finals among various media,[nb 1] French: Finale de la Coupe Stanley) is the championship series to determine the winner of the Stanley Cup, emblematic of the professional club championship of ice hockey. Although the Cup itself has existed since 1893, an annual championship series between professional teams was not established until 1913. The Stanley Cup Final was then regarded as a "World Series" between the champion of the National Hockey Association (NHA) and the champion of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association (PCHA). After a series of league mergers and folds, the Cup Final is today contested as the championship series of the National Hockey League (NHL), a best-of-seven series played between the champions of the Eastern and Western Conferences.


The Stanley Cup had been won and contested since 1893, when the Montreal Hockey Club was the first winner, for winning the 1893 AHAC season. The Cup winner would then have to defend its championship both through league championships and challenge games or series organized by the Stanley Cup trustees.

This changed in 1914 with the inauguration of the first "World Series" of ice hockey,[1] a series between the Stanley Cup and league champion Toronto Hockey Club of the National Hockey Association (NHA) and the Victoria Aristocrats, champions of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association (PCHA). The series was pre-arranged between the two leagues prior to the season after post-season exhibitions held in the previous seasons. The inaugural series was to be held in the city of the NHA champion, and alternate annually thereafter.

After the series got under way, there was some concern that the series would produce an "official" Stanley Cup champion. The Victoria club had not formally applied to the Stanley Cup trustees to challenge for the Cup.[2] A letter arrived from the Stanley Cup trustees on March 17, that the trustees would not let the Stanley Cup travel west, as they did not consider Victoria a proper challenger because they had not formally notified the trustees.[3] However, on March 18, Trustee William Foran stated that it was a misunderstanding. PCHA president Lester Patrick had not filed a challenge, because he had expected Emmett Quinn of the NHA to make all of the arrangements in his role as hockey commissioner, whereas the trustees thought they were being deliberately ignored. In any case, all arrangements had been ironed out and the Victoria challenge was accepted.[4] Any controversy was moot as Toronto successfully defended the Cup by sweeping a best-of-five series in three games.[5] This was the start of the end of the influence of the Stanley Cup trustees on the challengers and series for the Cup. In March 1914, trustee William Foran wrote to NHA president Emmett Quinn that the trustees are "perfectly satisfied to allow the representatives of the three pro leagues (NHA, PCHA and Maritime) to make all arrangements each season as to the series of matches to be played for the Cup."[6]

Victoria vs. Toronto

Date Winning Team Score Losing Team Rules Notes
March 14, 1914 Toronto HC 5–2 Victoria Aristocrats NHA
March 17, 1914 Toronto HC 6–5 Victoria Aristocrats PCHA 15:00, OT
March 19, 1914 Toronto HC 2–1 Victoria Aristocrats NHA
Toronto Hockey Club wins best-of-five series 3 games to 0


All games played at Arena Gardens in Toronto.

One year later, the NHA and the PCHA concluded a gentlemen's agreement in which their respective champions would face each other for the Cup. Under the new proposal, the Stanley Cup championship finals alternated between the East and the West each year, with alternating games played according to NHA and PCHA rules.[7] The Cup trustees agreed to this new arrangement, because after the Allan Cup became the highest prize for amateur hockey teams in Canada, the trustees had become dependent on the top two professional leagues to bolster the prominence of the trophy.[8] After the Portland Rosebuds, an American-based team, joined the PCHA in 1914, the trustees issued a statement that the Cup was no longer for the best team in Canada, but now for the best team in the world.[7] Two years later, the Rosebuds became the first American team to play in the Stanley Cup championship finals.[8] In 1917, the Seattle Metropolitans became the first American team to win the Cup.[9] After that season, the NHA dissolved, and the National Hockey League (NHL) took its place.[7]

In 1919, the Spanish influenza epidemic forced the Montreal Canadiens and the Seattle Metropolitans to cancel their series tied at 2–2–1, marking the first time the Stanley Cup was not awarded.[10]

The format for the Stanley Cup championship changed in 1922, with the creation of the Western Canada Hockey League (WCHL). Now three leagues competed for the Cup and this necessitated a semi-final series between two league champions, with the third having a bye directly to the finals.[11] In 1924, the PCHA and the WCHL merged to form the Western Hockey League (WHL) and the championship reverted to a single series.[12] After winning in the 1924–25 season, the Victoria Cougars became the last team outside the NHL to win the Stanley Cup.[13]

The WHL folded in 1926, and most of the players moved to the NHL. This left the NHL as the only league left competing for the Cup. Other leagues and clubs have issued challenges, but from that year forward, no non-NHL team has played for it, leading it to become the de facto championship trophy of the NHL.[12] In 1947, the NHL reached an agreement with trustees P. D. Ross and Cooper Smeaton to grant control of the cup to the NHL, allowing the league itself to reject challenges from other leagues that may have wished to play for the Cup.[14][15] A 2006 Ontario Superior Court case found that the trustees had gone against Lord Stanley's conditions in the 1947 agreement.[16] The NHL has agreed to allow other teams to play for the Cup should the league not be operating, as was the case in the 2004–05 NHL lockout.[15]


The first television broadcast of the Cup Final was in 1953. It was broadcast by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), with the play-by-play called by Danny Gallivan and colour commentary by Keith Dancy, hosted by Wes McKnight. The Hockey Night in Canada team would cover the next eight Finals. Gallivan would call his last Final in 1978. At the same time, CBC's Télévision de Radio-Canada (SRC) division broadcast the series in French, called by René Lecavalier, with colour commentary by Jean-Maurice Bailly. CBC remains the exclusive English-language broadcaster of the Final, despite starting with 2015, being a Rogers-produced broadcast simulcast on CBC. SRC broadcast the Final until 2003 when Réseau des sports (RDS) took over the broadcast.

The first United States broadcast of the Stanley Cup Final was in 1962, covered by Chicago station WGN. Network broadcasts started in 1966 on NBC. The Final has been broadcast by NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox and Hughes broadcast networks and the ESPN, USA, SportsChannel America, Versus, and currently NBC Sports Network cable networks. Several Finals were carried on syndication through the 1970s NHL Network and the 1966 RKO General network. In 2010 and 2011, the games were carried on NBC and Versus and the games will be carried on NBC and NBCSN throughout the 2021 season. This splitting of coverage on cable/broadcast networks originated in 1995 with a partnership of ESPN and Fox.

Series format[edit]

The championship series began with the 'Worlds Series' played in one city. The series alternated between a rink of the NHA and later the NHL and a rink of the PCHA and later the WCHL/WHL. It was not until the demise of the WHL, that the final series alternated games between the two finalists' home ice.

The series allowed ties until 1928. As the two and later three leagues differed, the series would alternate using each league's rules. The PCHA continued to use seven-man team play, and games would alternate with six and seven-man games.

The first NHL-only Final took place in 1927, between the Boston Bruins and the Ottawa Senators, it was planned to be a best-of-three series, although the series allowed ties. The series ended after four games, when the Senators defeated the Bruins in the fourth game.

Years Format Notes
1914–1922 best-of-five
1923–1924 best-of-three
1925–1926 best-of-five
1927 best-of-three Ties allowed, series ended in four games.
1928 best-of-five
1929–1930 best-of-three
1931–1938 best-of-five
1939–present best-of-seven 2005 Finals canceled due to lockout

The NHL has changed its playoff format several times since 1927, and thus the Cup Final has not always pitted conference or division playoff champions against each other. In the playoff format used from 1929 to 1938, the two teams with identical division ranking would face each other (i.e. the first place teams played each other, the second place teams play each other, and likewise for the third place teams). The winner of the first place series would automatically advance to the Cup Final. The winner of the second and third place series would then play each other, with the winner of that series earning the other berth to the Cup Final.

During the Original Six era, the top four teams made the playoffs, with the first and third place teams battling in one semifinal series, while the second and fourth place teams battled in the other. And from 1975 to 1981, all the playoff teams were seeded regardless of division or conference.


Further information: List of Stanley Cup champions
Most recent Finals
Year Winning team Coach Losing team Coach Games Winning goal
2015 Tampa Bay Lightning (EC) vs. Anaheim Ducks or Chicago Blackhawks (WC)
2014 Los Angeles Kings (WC) Darryl Sutter New York Rangers (EC) Alain Vigneault 4–1 Alec Martinez (14:43, 2OT)
2013 Chicago Blackhawks (WC) Joel Quenneville Boston Bruins (EC) Claude Julien 4–2 Dave Bolland (19:03, third)
2012 Los Angeles Kings (WC) Darryl Sutter New Jersey Devils (EC) Peter DeBoer 4–2 Jeff Carter (12:45, first)
2011 Boston Bruins (EC) Claude Julien Vancouver Canucks (WC) Alain Vigneault 4–3 Patrice Bergeron (14:37, first)
2010 Chicago Blackhawks (WC) Joel Quenneville Philadelphia Flyers (EC) Peter Laviolette 4–2 Patrick Kane (4:06, OT)
Most Final appearances (Top Five)
(Bold indicates Cup wins)
Appearances Team Wins Losses Win % Years of Appearance
34 [3] Montreal Canadiens (NHA/NHL) 24 9 .727 1916, 1917, 1919 [3], 1924, 1925, 1930, 1931, 1944, 1946, 1947, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1971, 1973, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1986, 1989, 1993
24 Detroit Red Wings 11 13 .458 1934, 1936, 1937, 1941, 1942, 1943, 1945, 1948, 1949, 1950, 1952, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1961, 1963, 1964, 1966, 1995, 1997, 1998, 2002, 2008, 2009
21 Toronto Maple Leafs [1] 13 8 .619 1918, 1922, 1932, 1933, 1935, 1936, 1938, 1939, 1940, 1942, 1945, 1947, 1948, 1949, 1951, 1959, 1960, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1967
19 Boston Bruins 6 13 .315 1927, 1929, 1930, 1939, 1941, 1943, 1946, 1953, 1957, 1958, 1970, 1972, 1974, 1977, 1978, 1988, 1990, 2011, 2013
12 Chicago Blackhawks [2] 5 7 .416 1931, 1934, 1938, 1944, 1961, 1962, 1965, 1971, 1973, 1992, 2010, 2013

^ 1. The NHL includes the Toronto Hockey Club (Toronto Arenas) 1918 win and the 1922 Toronto St. Patricks win in the Toronto Maple Leafs total.
^ 2. The Chicago Blackhawks were known as the Chicago Black Hawks prior to the 1986–87 season.
^ 3. The Montreal Canadiens totals include the 1919 Final that ended with a no-decision because of the Spanish flu epidemic.



  • Most wins: Montreal Canadiens (24)
  • Most losses: Detroit Red Wings (13), Boston Bruins (13)
  • Most consecutive wins: Montreal Canadiens (5 in 19561960)
  • Most consecutive losses: Toronto Maple Leafs (3 in 19381940) St. Louis Blues (3 in 19681970)
  • Most consecutive appearances: Montreal Canadiens (10 in 19511960)[17]
  • Most appearances without a loss: Montreal Canadiens (9 from 1968 to 1986)
  • Most appearances without a win: Toronto Maple Leafs (6 from 1933 to 1940), Detroit Red Wings (6 from 1956 to 1995), Philadelphia Flyers (6 from 1976 to 2010)
  • Most seasons between wins: New York Rangers (53 between 1940 and 1994)
  • Most seasons between appearances: Toronto Maple Leafs (47 between 1967 and the present)

Stanley Cup Final consecutive appearances[edit]

Team Stanley Cup Final appearance streak Consecutive Stanley Cup Final appearances Stanley Cup championships during streak
Montreal Canadiens 10 seasons 1950–51 through to 1959–60 6 : 1952–53, 1955–56, 1956–57, 1957–58, 1958–59, 1959–60
Montreal Canadiens 05 seasons 1964–65 through to 1968–69 4 : 1964–65, 1965–66, 1967–68, 1968–69
New York Islanders 05 seasons 1979–80 through to 1983–84 4 : 1979–80, 1980–81, 1981–82, 1982–83
Montreal Canadiens 04 seasons 1975–76 through to 1978–79 4 : 1975–76, 1976–77, 1977–78, 1978–79
Detroit Red Wings 03 seasons 1940–41 through to 1942–43 1 : 1942–43
Toronto Maple Leafs 03 seasons 1946–47 through to 1948–49 3 : 1946–47, 1947–48, 1948–49
Detroit Red Wings 03 seasons 1947–48 through to 1949–50 1 : 1949–50
Detroit Red Wings 03 seasons 1953–54 through to 1955–56 2 : 1953–54, 1954–55
Toronto Maple Leafs 03 seasons 1961–62 through to 1963–64 3 : 1961–62, 1962–63, 1963–64
St. Louis Blues 03 seasons 1967–68 through to 1969–70 none
Philadelphia Flyers 03 seasons 1973–74 through to 1975–76 2 : 1973–74, 1974–75
Edmonton Oilers 03 seasons 1982–83 through to 1984–85 2 : 1983–84, 1984–85



See also[edit]


  • Coleman, Charles (1964–1969). The Trail of the Stanley Cup vols. 1–3. Sherbrooke Daily Record Company Ltd., NHL. 
  • Diamond, Dan; Eric Zweig; James Duplacey (2003). The Ultimate Prize: The Stanley Cup. Andrews McMeel Publishing. ISBN 0-7407-3830-5. 
  • Diamond, Dan, ed. (1992). The Official National Hockey League Stanley Cup Centennial Book. Firefly Books. ISBN 1-895565-15-4. 
  • Diamond, Dan, ed. (2000). Total Stanley Cup. Total Sports Canada. ISBN 1-892129-07-8. 
  • McCarthy, Dave, ed. (2008). The National Hockey League Official Guide & Record Book/2009. Dan Diamond Associates. ISBN 978-1-894801-14-0. 
  • Podnieks, Andrew; Hockey Hall of Fame (2004). Lord Stanley's Cup. Triumph Books. ISBN 1-55168-261-3. 
  1. ^ a b Diamond, Zweig, and Duplacey, p. 25
  2. ^ Coleman 1966, p. 262.
  3. ^ "Stanley Cup Contest May Not Be for the Mug, After All is Said". Saskatoon Phoenix. March 18, 1914. p. 8. 
  4. ^ "A Tempest In a Teapot". Montreal Daily Mail. March 19, 1914. p. 9. 
  5. ^ Diamond(1992), p. 46
  6. ^ "Three Pro Leagues as to Stanley Cup". Toronto World. March 25, 1914. p. 8. 
  7. ^ a b c Diamond, Zweig, and Duplacey, p. 20
  8. ^ a b Diamond(1992), p. 45
  9. ^ "Stanley Cup Winners: Seattle Metropolitans 1916–17". Hockey Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2006-07-11. 
  10. ^ Podnieks, p. 51
  11. ^ Diamond, Zweig, and Duplacey, pp. 20–21
  12. ^ a b Diamond, Zweig, and Duplacey, p. 21
  13. ^ "Stanley Cup Winners: Victoria Cougars 1924–25". Hockey Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2006-07-11. 
  14. ^ Diamond, Zweig and Duplacey, p. 40.
  15. ^ a b "Court:Non-NHL teams could vie for Cup". TSN. 2006-02-07. Archived from the original on 2007-12-16. Retrieved 2008-04-18. 
  16. ^ "Amateurs taking NHL to court to play for Cup". ESPN. 2005-04-13. Retrieved 2007-10-13. 
  17. ^ "Final Series Record Book, 1918-2011 Page 1 - Stanley Cup Playoffs". Retrieved 2013-06-02. 
  18. ^ a b c d e f g h Diamond(2000), p. 88
  19. ^ a b c Diamond(2000), p. 89
  1. ^ The NHL officially began referring to the championship series as a singular "Final" circa 2006. However, various North American media still continue to refer to it as plural "Finals", similar to the NBA Finals.
  2. ^ Note that one of the above (most points, most goals) is incorrect, as 14 goals are also 14 points. The discrepancy seems to be whether the years prior to 1918 are included in NHL Stanley Cup history.

External links[edit]