What happens to the rings when the Stanley Cup is full of names?

One of the best traditions of the Stanley Cup is that the winning team gets to engrave their roster onto the bottom ring of the Cup. If you ever get to see the Stanley Cup in person it is so much fun to look at all of the players names engraved on it. I love looking for my team and all of the different Hall of Famers who have their name on it.

Another thing you will notice when looking at the cup is that there is limited space for names. The trophy cannot go on forever

What happens when the Stanley Cup is full? What do they do with the rings? Each barrel on the Stanley Cup has space for 13 teams. When a barrel is full they take the top most (oldest) barrel off and place in the Hall of Fame, while a new barrel is added to the bottom. 

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Brief history of rings and engraving added to the Stanley Cup

When the Stanley Cup was first given by Lord Stanley in 1892 it was simply a cup with only one ring. The cup was to be awarded to the amateur champion of Canada, and the championship team, at their own expense, at their team name.

The first ring became full after 1902 and a second ring was not added until 1909 by the Ottawa Senators.

The Montreal Wanderers were the first team to add their roster to the cup in 1907 (on the inside bowl) but regular engraving of the roster did not start until 1924.

The Stovepipe Cup

After the Wanderers set the tradition of putting your roster caught on in 1924 then rings to the cup were added almost every year. These rings were not the large rings that you see on the Stanley Cup that you would see today, but a much smaller circle.

This caused the Stanley Cup to become a long and narrow trophy that was given the nickname of the “Stovepipe Cup”.

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A picture of the Stovepipe Stanley Cup

1948 and 1957 redesigns of the Stanley Cup led to the design that we are familiar with today. 

As the Stovepipe Cup grew and became impractical there was a need to have a redesign of what the Stanley Cup looked like. A redesign of the cup in 1948 and 1957 turned the cup into what we see today. 

The cup is laid out with 4 smaller bands and two base rings incorporated in the neck. While it has 5 larger bands, which fit 13 teams each, at the base of the cup. 

What happens when the Stanley Cup is full?

The redesign of the Stanley Cup was done with the purpose of being able to go to the centennial of its origin, which would have been 1992. However, the 1965 Montreal Canadiens took two spots so it filled up a year early. 

A new ring is then added to the bottom of the Stanley Cup that will be filled up after another 13 teams have won.

Up to this point there have been three barrel rings to be retired:

  • 1927–28 to 1939–40 champions
  • 1940–41 to 1952–53 Cup winners
  • 1953–54 to 1964–65

The 2017-2018 Washington Capitals started a new ring and the next ring is not set to be retired until after the 2029-30 season. 

What happens to the rings? 

When it filled up the NHL took the top most ring of the barrel off, which were the 1927–28 to 1939–40 champions, and took it to the Hockey Hall of Fame to be displayed flattened out on the wall of the trophy room. 

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The ‘old’ rings on display at the Hockey Hall of Fame

How long does your name stay on the Stanley Cup?

Well it depends. The best time to get your name on the Cup is the first year that they add a new barrel to the Cup. The worst time would be the last year that a spot on a barrel is available before a new one must be added. 

This would give a range of 52 to 65 years before a name would get taken off the Stanley Cup.

What teams are getting their teams removed from the Stanley Cup next?

The next set of teams to be retired from the Stanley Cup are from 1965-66 to 1977-78. The biggest significance to this is that once this band is retired in 2029-30 there is a potential for neither the Toronto Maple Leafs or Philadelphia Flyers to be on the Stanley Cup for the modern era. Both of those teams are in a long drought and must win it within the next eleven years or else they will not have their team names on it.

As well, it is sad to think about some of the player’s names that will be removed from Lord Stanley’s Cup. Some of the names in this time period include Bobby Orr, Jean Beliveau, Henri Richard, and Bobby Clarke.

Related Questions

What are the current dimensions of the Stanley Cup?

Original Bowl (silver)
Height:18.5 cm / 7.28 inches
Diameter:29 cm / 11.42 inches
Current Version (silver and nickel alloy)
Full Stanley Cup:Height – 89.54 cm / 35-1/4 inchesWeight – 34-1/2 lbs – 15-1/2 kg
Bowl:Height – 19.05 cm / 7-1/2 inchesDiameter – 28.57 cm / 11-1/4 inchesCircumference – 88.9 cm / 35 inches
Collar:Height – 15.87 cm / 6-1/4 inches
Shoulder:Height – 8.25 cm / 3-1/4 inches
Barrel:Height – 46.35 cm / 18-1/4 inches
Base:Diameter – 43.81 cm / 17-1/4 inches


What happened to the original Stanley Cup bowl?

The original bowl was becoming too fragile so it was retired in 1960 and can be seen on display at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. It has been replaced by an exact replica, including all the engravings and mistakes. 

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