Hockey players are a particularly superstitious lot. The Stanley Cup playoffs are no exception, with their own set of superstitions. For example, players not touching the conference trophy to the playoff bear (thinking it will bring bad luck). There is also a tradition that dates back to 1927 when the NHL introduced the idea of an official photographer for the playoffs. Before then, players would take photos with members of the media after they were awarded the cup, but nobody did it during the season so there were no memories left for fans to celebrate with.
The most popular belief about the Cup is that if you wear it someone will steal it from you. This is not true but it does bring bad luck if you leave it in a hotel room or car. If this happens, your team will lose in the first round.
Another myth is that if you spill something on the Stanley Cup you must wipe it off immediately or else bad things will happen to your hockey team. This isn't true either but coaches don't like anyone handling the Cup in any way except their players. If you do spill something on it, just wash it off and move on.
One last thing: don't try to clean the Cup with a cloth, use a brush instead.
After all, the Stanley Cup is the genuine championship prize. It's what teams focus on all season, and nothing, not even a conference title, should divert attention away from the ultimate goal. Some teams believe in this superstition, while others do not. Either way, it's a tradition that has gone on for more than 100 years.
The first Stanley Cup was built by Frank E. Stevens of New York City and was made of silver and gold. It was 16 feet long and 4 feet high and was valued at $10,000. Today, the actual value of the cup is estimated to be around $1 million. That makes it the most expensive trophy in sports.
The original rules of hockey required each player wearing a helmet. The Stanley Cup was designed this way to honor the players who had died during the previous year's playoffs. However, no one wore a helmet during practice or games until 1938 when the NHL banned helmet-wearing during play. Before then, many players wearily put one on before heading out for practice or game time.
In 1924, the National Hockey League (NHL) was founded and began holding playoff rounds to determine which team would win the right to challenge for Lord Stanley's Cup. This marks the beginning of the current postseason format for hockey teams.
In hockey, there's a popular belief that touching a conference trophy can bring bad luck in the Stanley Cup Final. Some basketball players wear the same underwear or socks they wore in high school. Some football players have to puke before every game. But nobody ever touches the Stanley Cup.
The idea of bad luck comes from the fact that each year the winning team is allowed to pick up the cup after their victory ceremony has been held on the ice. If they don't pick it up, then they'll have to give it back after the next season.
The first two seasons of the NHL playoffs ended with a series tied at one game each. So they introduced the concept of "conference trophies" for those years- the President's Trophy for the best regular season record, and the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy for sportsmanship & good will. The third season was played without either trophy being awarded, so they didn't need to touch them to show their respect.
And now we come to the most famous part of the story: the Conn Smythe Trophy. It is given to the player who leads the league in playoff points, as determined by his/her total of goals plus assists. It was created in 1971 to honor former Vancouver Canucks owner John McCauley (who died in 1970) and Toronto Maple Leafs president Stafford Smythe (who had retired in 1969).