The Stanley Cup is the oldest trophy competed for by professional athletes in North America. Donated by Governor General Lord Stanley in 1893 for presentation to the amateur hockey champions of Canada, it was first awarded to Montreal AAA (1892-93). Before professional hockey concentrated the sport in a few large urban centres, the cup was contested under a variety of formats and was captured by such far-flung teams as Winnipeg Victorias (1895-96, 1900-01), Ottawa Silver Seven (1902-03, 1903-04, 1904-05), Kenora Thistles (1906-07), the Vancouver Millionaires (1914-15), Seattle Metropolitans (1916-17) and Victoria Cougars (1924-25).

A professional team (the original Ottawa Senators) first won the cup in 1909 and in 1926 it came under the exclusive control of the National Hockey League. The Montreal Canadiens, with 24 victories as of 1993 (including 5 straight 1956-60), have been by far the most successful team in Stanley Cup history, followed by the Toronto Maple Leafs with 11 wins.

In the 1980s the New York Islanders and the Edmonton Oilers dominated Stanley Cup play, each winning the cup 4 times. The 1990s saw much more parity in the league. The Oilers added a fifth win; the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Detroit Red Wings each managed back-to-back wins.

The cup was awarded in all but 2 years of its 100-plus year existence. The Spanish Flu, which claimed more than 21 million lives from 1918 to 1919, resulted in cancellation of the Stanley Cup finals although the season had already been played. Early in 2005, the NHL cancelled its entire 2004-2005 season due to its most bitter labour dispute ever between the National Hockey League Player's Association and the NHL team owners over a proposed players' salary cap. Cancellation of the entire season rendered the Stanley Cup finals impossible that year.

The cup itself has had a colourful history. It has been lost, misplaced and stolen (once from its home in the Hockey Hall of Fame and Museum). The original silver bowl is now on permanent display at the Hockey Hall of Fame and a replica sits on top of the existing structure. The names of all the players on winning teams since 1930 are engraved on the base.

Stanley Cup Champions

1892-93 Montreal AAA 1894-95 Montreal Victorias
1895-96 Winnipeg Victorias 1896-97 Montreal Victorias
1897-98 Montreal Victorias 1898-99 Montreal Shamrocks
1899-1900 Montreal Shamrocks 1900-01 Winnipeg Victorias
1901-02 Montreal AAA 1902-03 Ottawa Silver Seven
1903-04 Ottawa Silver Seven 1904-05 Ottawa Silver Seven
1905-06 Montreal Wanderers 1906-07 Kenora Thistles
1907-08 Montreal Wanderers 1908-09 Ottawa Senators
1909-10 Montreal Wanderers 1910-11 Ottawa Senators
1911-12 Quebec Bulldogs 1912-13 Quebec Bulldogs
1913-14 Toronto Blue Shirts 1914-15 Vancouver Millionaires
1915-16 Montreal Canadiens 1916-17 Seattle Metropolitans
1917-18 Toronto Arenas 1918-19 No Challengers*
1919-20 Ottawa Senators 1920-21 Ottawa Senators
1921-22 Toronto St Pats 1922-23 Ottawa Senators
1923-24 Montreal Canadiens 1924-25 Victoria Cougars
1925-26 Montreal Maroons 1926-27 Ottawa Senators
1927-28 New York Rangers 1928-29 Boston Bruins
1929-30 Montreal Canadiens 1930-31 Montreal Canadiens
1931-32 Toronto Maple Leafs 1932-33 New York Rangers
1933-34 Chicago Black Hawks 1934-35 Montreal Maroons
1935-36 Detroit Red Wings 1936-37 Detroit Red Wings
1937-38 Chicago Black Hawks 1938-39 Boston Bruins
1939-40 New York Rangers 1940-41 Boston Bruins
1941-42 Toronto Maple Leafs 1942-43 Detroit Red Wings
1943-44 Montreal Canadiens 1944-45 Toronto Maple Leafs
1945-46 Montreal Canadiens 1946-47 Toronto Maple Leafs
1947-48 Toronto Maple Leafs 1948-49 Toronto Maple Leafs
1949-50 Detroit Red Wings 1950-51 Toronto Maple Leafs
1951-52 Detroit Red Wings 1952-53 Montreal Canadiens
1953-54 Detroit Red Wings 1954-55 Detroit Red Wings
1955-56 Montreal Canadiens 1956-57 Montreal Canadiens
1957-58 Montreal Canadiens 1958-59 Montreal Canadiens
1959-60 Montreal Canadiens 1960-61 Chicago Black Hawks
1961-62 Toronto Maple Leafs 1962-63 Toronto Maple Leafs
1963-64 Toronto Maple Leafs 1964-65 Montreal Canadiens
1965-66 Montreal Canadiens 1966-67 Toronto Maple Leafs
1967-68 Montreal Canadiens 1968-69 Montreal Canadiens
1969-70 Boston Bruins 1970-71 Montreal Canadiens
1971-72 Boston Bruins 1972-73 Montreal Canadiens
1973-74 Philadelphia Flyers 1974-75 Philadelphia Flyers
1975-76 Montreal Canadiens 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens
1977-78 Montreal Canadiens 1978-79 Montreal Canadiens
1979-80 New York Islanders 1980-81 New York Islanders
1981-82 New York Islanders 1982-83 New York Islanders
1983-84 Edmonton Oilers 1984-85 Edmonton Oilers
1985-86 Montreal Canadiens 1986-87 Edmonton Oilers
1987-88 Edmonton Oilers 1988-89 Calgary Flames
1989-90 Edmonton Oilers 1990-91 Pittsburgh Penguins
1991-92 Pittsburgh Penguins 1992-93 Montreal Canadiens
1993-94 New York Rangers 1994-95 New Jersey Devils
1995-96 Colorado Avalanche 1996-97 Detroit Red Wings
1997-98 Detroit Red Wings 1998-99 Dallas Stars
1999-2000 New Jersey Devils 2000-01 Colorado Avalanche
2001-02 Detroit Red Wings 2002-03 New Jersey Devils
2003-04 Tampa Bay Lightning 2004-05 No Challengers**
2005-06 Carolina Hurricanes 2006-07 Anaheim Ducks
2007-08 Detroit Red Wings 2008-09 Pittsburgh Penguins
2009-10 Chicago Black Hawks 2010-11 Boston Bruins
2011-12 Los Angeles Kings 2012-13 Chicago Blackhawks
2013-14 Los Angeles Kings 2014-15 Chicago Blackhawks
2015-16 Pittsburgh Penguins

*Series cancelled during influenza epidemic

**Season cancelled due to strike