Panthers vs Knights: Why don’t NHL players touch the Stanley Cup before they win it?
The Stanley Cup is one of the most desirable pieces of sports silverware on the planet. But there is one thing that NHL players will never do.
Athletes are a superstitious bunch, as a rule. If you hit a home run in mismatched socks, then all of your socks must be mismatched for the rest of the season. Caught that winning touchdown pass after eating a tuna sandwich? Guess what all of your pre-game meals are going to be. And hockey is no exception.
Of all the superstitions and lucky omens that the game has, there is one that is above all. You never touch the Stanley Cup until you have rightfully won it.
While this superstition may extend to include the conference trophies, there are many known exceptions to that side of the folklore, with players touching both the Campbell Bowl and the Prince of Wales Trophy before going on to win the Stanley Cup, but rarely are they hoisted.
Conference trophies are a welcome addition to any cabinet, but NHL players are fairly united in feeling that the only true championship trophy is the Stanley Cup.
Tradition dictates that the champion team’s captain be the first to hoist the Cup. It is a right that you must first earn by winning. Prior to this moment, you have no right to hoist, or even touch, the holiest relic in North American sports.
Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog elected to touch the Campbell Bowl en route to this year’s Stanley Cup, and in doing so, he is following a tradition set by previous captain Joe Sakic, who touched the trophy on the way to winning the Stanley Cup in 1996 and 2001.
So even in breaking tradition, it seems that the Avs are keen on keeping it alive.
In 2015, Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos refused to touch the Prince of Wales Trophy. Following their loss, he decided to create a new tradition by touching it in 2020 and 2021. The Lightning won both of those years’ Stanley Cup.
No matter the status of the conference trophies, the Stanley Cup is sacrosanct, and will not be touched by any player who hasn’t won that right.