Windsor - May 14, 2019 - Charlie Conacher. Guy Lafleur. Gilbert Perrault. Dale Hawerchuk. Doug Gilmour. What do these legends of hockey all have in common? If you answered that they are all honoured members of the Hockey Hall of Fame you’re right. But they have something else in common. They are all winners of junior hockey’s greatest and most elusive prize - The Memorial Cup.
Awarded to the best team in junior hockey, the Memorial Cup was first introduced one hundred years ago. It was the brainchild of Captain James T. Sutherland, who was the president of the Ontario Hockey Association and had actively served in World War One. Sutherland, who was born and raised in Kingston, Ontario, was very active in the promotion and development of Canadian amateur hockey, and he helped organize the Frontenac Hockey Club of Kingston. His playing days behind him, he served as the team’s manager and coach. Sutherland’s idea was to award a championship trophy to the best junior hockey team in Canada in honour of soldiers who had died in battle, noting that many of them had played junior hockey. In fact, two Frontenac players, Scotty Davidson and George Richardson died on the battlefield, inspiring Sutherland to pursue his dream even more. After learning of Sutherland’s desire to introduce a trophy the league unanimously approving Capt. Sutherland’s request, and in March 1919, the OHA Memorial Cup became a reality. In later years, Sutherland was honoured with a championship trophy bearing his name, and to this day, the Sutherland Cup is awarded to the OHA’s Junior B champions.
The championship began in 1919 as a two-game, total goals format between the best junior hockey teams from eastern and western Canada. The first team to win the Cup was the University of Toronto Schools, who defeated the Regina Patricia with a two-game total score of 29-8. Other winners of this format were Toronto Canoe Club Paddlers, Winnipeg Junior Falcons, Fort William Great War Vets, University of Manitoba Bisons and the Owen Sound Greys. The two-game format continued until 1924, and the next year was changed to a best of three series, with the Regina Pats winning the first Memorial Cup in the new format. In 1938 it became a best of five series, and the first championship series in the best of five was won by the St. Boniface Seals, who defeated the Oshawa Generals three games to two. A best of seven series was introduced in 1943, the first series being won by the Winnipeg Rangers. The best of seven format carried on until 1971, when it was decided that the next year would feature a double round robin playoff series featuring the winners of the Ontario Hockey Association, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and the Western Hockey League.
In 1983 the Memorial Cup Tournament expanded again, this time adding a pre-determined host team to the mix. The first host team was the Portland Winter Hawks, and this marked the first time in Memorial Cup history that the championship was played outside of Canada. The Winter Hawks had become the first American team to compete for the cup the year before and while they weren’t successful the first time around, they won it all in 1983. In addition to being the first American team to succeed, the Winter Hawks were also the first team to win the Memorial Cup after failing to win their own league championship. This format continues today, and the since being introduced, the host team has been victorious ten times, the most recent host winner being the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires in 2017. In its’ hundred-year history, the Memorial Cup has only seen back to back winners on eight occasions. The teams who performed this difficult feat were the Oshawa Generals, Toronto Marlboros, Montreal Junior Canadiens, New Westminster Bruins, Cornwall Royals, Medicine Hat Tigers, Kamloops Blazers and Windsor Spitfires. No team has ever won three in a row.
While the Memorial Cup is often referred to as one of the most difficult trophies to win in all of sports, the Toronto Marlboros accomplished the feat seven times. The Marlboros played in the Ontario Hockey Association and the Ontario Hockey League between 1904 and 1989 and were considered a league powerhouse. The team was owned by the Smythe family and served as the farm team for the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs. The Marlboros club was responsible for sending over two hundred players to the NHL, including Hockey Hall Of Fame honoured members George Armstrong, Charlie Conacher, Red Horner, Harvey Jackson, Joe Primeau, Tommy Phillips, Harry Watson, Bob Pulford, Steve Shutt, Brad Park, Mark Howe as well as Carl Voss in the builder’s category.
The team with the next best record of Memorial Cup wins is the Oshawa Generals Hockey Club, which won the trophy five times. Another league powerhouse, the Generals also hold the record for most league championships by winning the J. Ross Robertson Cup thirteen times. Over 180 Generals made it to the NHL, and include Hockey Hall Of Fame honoured members Bobby Orr, Ted Lindsay, Dave Andreychuk, Alex Delvecchio, Eric Lindros, Rob Blake, and builders Father David Bauer and Harry Sinden.
Tied for second with five Memorial Cup wins is the New Westminster Bruins/Kamloops Blazers franchise. The Bruins moved to Kamloops and became the Blazers in 1981, and between the two all time rosters, 140 players became NHLers, including Hockey Hall Of Fame honoured members Scott Niedermeyer, Glenn Anderson and Mark Recchi. Other Bruins/Blazers who played in the NHL include Jarome Iginla, Darcy Tucker, Cliff Ronning, John Ogrodnick, and goalies Ed Staniowski, Bill Ranford and Olaf Kolzig.
Rounding out the top four teams with the most Memorial Cup wins is the Regina Pats Hockey Club with four. The Pats organization is the longest operating junior franchise in history, starting in 1917 and still going strong. The all-time Pats roster boasts 157 NHL players, including Hockey Hall Of Fame honoured member Clark Gillies, as well as other notable players like Red Berenson, Eddie Litzenberger, Terry Harper, Glenn Resch, Esa Tikkanen, Doug Wickenheiser, and current NHL star Jordan Eberle.
Two teams, both from Ontario, have won the coveted prize three times each. The Cornwall Royals took the trophy in 1972, 1980 and 1981, while the Windsor Spitfires turned the trick in 2009, 2010, and in front of their hometown fans in 2017. Sixty Royals made their way to the NHL, including Hockey Hall Of Fame honoured members Doug Gilmour, Dale Hawerchuk and Billy Smith. Fans of the game will also recognize the names of Richard Brodeur, Fred Boimistruck, Dan Daoust, Marc Crawford, Owen Nolan, Mathieu Schneider and Rick Tabaracci, who all suited up for the Cornwall club. The Spitfires have had well over one hundred players join the ranks of the NHL. Led by Hockey Hall Of Fame honoured members Glenn Hall, Terry Sawchuk and Marcel Pronovost, the Spitfires currently have several Memorial Cup winners lacing them up for NHL clubs including Taylor Hall, Ryan Ellis, Cam Fowler, Adam Henrique, Zack Kassian, Philip Grubauer, Austin Watson and Mikhail Sergachev. Sergachev, Logan Brown and Logan Stanley made history for the club when they were all selected in the first round of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. All three were part of the cup winning team in 2017. Other Spitfires alumni who made it to the NHL include Adam Graves, Ed Jovanovski, Cory Stillman, Roland Melanson, Todd Warriner, Claude Julien and Joel Quenneville. Julien, Quenneville and former Spitfire Peter DeBoer are all current head coaches in the NHL.
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In addition to the Memorial Cup trophy there are four awards associated with the tournament for individual players. They are the Stafford Smythe Memorial Trophy, the George Parsons Trophy, the Hap Emms Memorial Trophy, and the Ed Chynoweth Trophy.
The Stafford Smythe Memorial Trophy is named after the long time Maple Leaf Gardens and Toronto Maple Leafs president, and is awarded to the most valuable player in the Memorial Cup tournament. The son of Hockey Hall Of Fame honoured member Conn Smythe played hockey in the 1930s for Upper Canada College, Runnymede Collegiate Institute and the Varsity Blues before a short stint with the Toronto Marlboros in the 1940-41 season. Prior to joining the Leafs, Smythe served as coach and managing director of the Marlboros. The first winner of the Stafford Smythe Memorial Trophy was goaltender Richard Brodeur, who led the Cornwall Royals to their Memorial Cup victory in 1972. Other past winners include Hockey Hall Of Fame honoured members Mark Howe (1973), Dale Hawerchuk (1981), Scott Niedermayer (1992) and current NHL stars Corey Perry (2005), Taylor Hall (2009,2010), Jonathan Huberdeau (2011), Nathan MacKinnon (2013), Leon Draisaitl (2015) and Mitch Marner (2016). It is worth noting that Taylor Hall has the honour of being the only player in Memorial Cup history to win the award twice.
The George Parsons Trophy bears the name of the former Toronto Maple Leaf whose playing career was ended in 1939 when he suffered an eye injury during a game at Maple Leaf Gardens. Parsons played in two Memorial Cup tournaments, in 1933 with the West Toronto Nationals, and in 1934 with the Toronto Young Rangers. The trophy is awarded for Sportsmanship and was presented for the first time in 1974 to Quebec Remparts forward Guy Chouinard, who went on to a successful NHL career. In addition to becoming a point-a-game player, Chouinard continued to play in the style that won him the Parsons Trophy by amassing only 120 penalty minutes in 578 NHL games over ten years. Other former NHL players who took home the trophy are Mark Kirton (1978), Brian Bellows (1982), Martin Gelinas (1988), Ray Whitney (1991), Jarome Iginla (1995), Manny Malhotra (1998), Gregory Campbell (2003), along with former London Knight and current Vancouver Canuck Bo Horvat, who won the award in 2013. Hockey Hall Of Fame Honoured member Dale Hawerchuk won the trophy in 1980.
Leighton “Hap” Emms, a former NHL left winger and defenseman, played professional hockey for seventeen years including ten in the NHL. He was also involved in the Ontario Hockey Association for over thirty years as a coach, general manager and team owner. The Barrie, Ontario native was involved in eight Memorial Cup tournaments, winning four times. The Hap Emms Memorial trophy was introduced in 1975 and is awarded to the most outstanding goaltender in the tournament. The first winner was Gary Carr of the Toronto Marlboros. Among other winners of the trophy are former NHLers Pat Riggin (1977), Corrado Micalef (1981), Mike Vernon (1983), Darren Pang (1984), Mark Fitzpatrick (the only repeat winner in 1987 and 1988), Felix Potvin (1991), and Eric Fichaud (1994). Current San Jose Sharks goaltender Martin Jones won the award in 2010 as a member of the Calgary Hitmen.
The Ed Chynoweth trophy is named after one junior hockey’s most influential men. Chynoweth was the first president of the Western Hockey League and held that post from 1972 to 1995. He was involved with the formation of the Canadian Hockey League in 1972 and served as league president from 1975 to 1995. Ontario Hockey League commissioner David Branch has called Chynoweth “the architect of Canadian Hockey League as we know it today.” In 1995 Chynoweth resigned from both the CHL and WHL to establish the Edmonton Ice, an expansion team in the WHL that is now the Kootenay Ice. At the time of his death in 2008, Chynoweth was serving as the WHL’s chairman of the board in addition to being the Ice’s president and governor. The trophy bearing this Hockey Hall Of Fame honoured member’s name goes to the top scorer in the Memorial Cup tournament, and was awarded for the first time in 1996 to Granby Predateurs left winger Philippe Audet. Since that time, several other players who made the jump to the NHL were awarded the trophy, among them Matthew Lombardi (2002), Gregory Campbell (2003), Sidney Crosby (2005), Gilbert Brule (2006), Jamie Benn (2009), Taylor Hall (2009), Nathan MacKinnon (2013), Leon Draisaitl (2015), and Mitch Marner (2016).
As with any tournament, there are records set and broken, and Memorial Cup tournament is no different. During its one-hundred-year existence the tournament has seen some remarkable accomplishments. The record for the most points in a tournament is held by two players, Jeff Larmer and Guy Rouleau. Larmer tallied 16 points for the Kitchener Rangers in 1982, and Rouleau tied the record in 1986 as a member of the Hull Olympiques. There is a three-way tie for most wins by a general manager. The record of three is shared by Matt Leyden, Oshawa Generals (1939, ’40,’44), Bob Brown, Kamloops Blazers (1992, ’94, ’95), and Warren Rychel, Windsor Spitfires (2009, ’10, 17). The honour of most wins by a head coach goes to Don Hay, who won with the Kamloops Blazers (1994, ’95), and in 2007 with the Vancouver Giants. Four individuals hold the record of most wins by a player, with three. Robert Savard did it as a member of the Cornwall Royals in 1980 and 1981, then again in 1982 with the Kitchener Rangers. The other three were teammates Darcy Tucker, Ryan Huska and Tyson Nash, who performed the feat as Kamloops Blazers (1992, ’94, ’95). The most goals scored in a tournament is eight, and this record is shared by Dale Hawerchuk (1981), Luc Robitaille (1986), and Pat Falloon (1991). The record for most assists in a series is thirteen, and is held by former Prince Albert Raider Dan Hodgson, who did it in 1985).
There are several goaltending records as well. In 2004, Kelowna Rockets goalie Kelly Guard put up a stingy 0.75 goals against average en route to a Memorial Cup win. The record of most shutouts by a goalie is held Fredric Deschenes with two as a member of the Granby Predateurs (1996). The most minutes ever played in a tournament by a goaltender is 372 over six games in 2009. That record is held by Andrew Engelage of the Windsor Spitfires.
When it comes to single game records, there are some amazing ones. During the 1975 march to the cup, Toronto Marlboros center Bruce Boudreau scored five goals in a 10-4 win over Sherbrooke. The record for most assists in a single game is five and is held by three different players. They are Dan Hodgson, Prince Albert (1985), Jonathan Drouin, Halifax (2013), and Sam Steel, Regina (2018). The most points in a single game is seven. Dylan Strome scored four goals and had three assists in a game on May 22, 2017 between his Erie Otters and The Saint John Sea Dogs. The Otters won the game by a score of 12-5. During the same game, Strome’s teammate Taylor Raddysh had six points (2G, 4A), an accomplishment he shares with three other players; Joe Contini, Hamilton (1976), Guy Rouleau, Hull (1986), and Mike Mathers, Kamloops (1992). Contini also holds the record for the fastest two goals (8 seconds), and the fastest three goals (1:12). In the “one more for the goalies” category, on May 22, 2005, Ottawa 67s goaltender Danny Battochio made a record 62 saves in a 3-2 overtime win over the Kelowna Rockets.
On May 23, 2014, the Edmonton Oil Kings defeated the Val-d’Or Foreurs 4-3 in a triple- overtime semi-final contest. The battle went 102 minutes and 42 seconds and is the longest game in Memorial Cup history.
In 2002, the Memorial Cup trophy was made a permanent feature of the Hockey Hall of Fame. “The Memorial Cup has a rich tradition that has helped shape the way junior hockey is played in North America,” David Branch, President, Canadian Hockey League, stated. “We are happy that Canadians from coast to coast will be able to visit the Hockey Hall of Fame and view this storied trophy.”
The Hall has a permanent display that includes the Memorial Cup and highlights its military history. And every spring the Hockey Hall of Fame attends the Memorial Cup tournament with its Outreach Program, bringing displays and artifacts that are specific to the host city’s ties to the tournament.
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During its 100-year run the Memorial Cup competitions have provided fans with incredibly exciting moments. Congratulations to all of the participating players, coaches, general managers, owners, trainers, equipment managers, front office staff and everyone associated with a hockey team who has been a part of this great sport. Here’s to 100 more! The 2018 Memorial Cup champions are the Acadie-Bathurst Titans of the QMJHL. We’ll see who wins in 2019 in Halifax!
Reprinted with the kind permission of the Hockey Hall Of Fame
Tim Cornett is a lifelong hockey fan and a contributing columnist for www.hometownhockey.ca He and his wife live in Windsor, Ontario.