Memorial Cup

Memorial Cup
Memorial Cup
Established 1919
Current holder(s) Saint John Sea Dogs
Awarded to the Canadian Hockey League champion

The Memorial Cup is a junior ice hockey club championship trophy awarded annually to the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) champion. It is awarded following a four-team, round robin tournament between a host team and the champions of the CHL's three member leagues: the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) and Western Hockey League (WHL). Fifty-nine teams are eligible to compete for the Memorial Cup, representing nine provinces and four American states. The Saint John Sea Dogs are the current champions, defeating the hosting Mississauga St. Michael's Majors 3-1 in the 2011 championship final on May 29, 2011.

The trophy was originally known as the OHA Memorial Cup and was donated by the Ontario Hockey Association (OHA) in 1919 to be awarded to the junior champion of Canada. From its inception until 1971, the Memorial Cup was open to all Junior A teams in the country and was awarded following a series of league, provincial and regional playoffs culminating in an east-west championship. The three-league tournament format began in 1972 when the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association divided the Junior A rank into two tiers, naming the Memorial Cup as the championship of the Major Junior level.

The Memorial Cup was proposed by Captain James T. Sutherland during World War I, who wanted to create a trophy as a memorial to remember the OHA's players who died during the war. When the trophy was created, it was dedicated in honour of the soldiers who died fighting for Canada in the war. It was rededicated to honour all soldiers who died fighting for Canada in any conflict during the 2010 tournament.



Often referred to as the ‘Father of Hockey’, Captain James T. Sutherland is the man responsible for the Memorial Cup. The well-traveled Kingston shoe salesman was a great hockey booster and administrator, championing his hometown of Kingston as the birthplace of hockey. Two of his former players and two of Kingston’s greatest hockey stars died in World War I; Alan (Scotty) Davidson was lost in battle in 1915 just one year after he helped the Toronto Blueshirts win the Stanley Cup and another Kingston hockey great, Capt. George T. Richardson, was killed in action in 1916. Capt. Sutherland, who was also overseas, was President of the Ontario Hockey Association and he brought forward the idea to present a trophy to honour all the young Canadian hockey players who died in battle and have it awarded to the best junior hockey team in Canada. The idea for the Memorial Cup was born:

The Ontario Hockey Association’s annual meeting was unanimous that a fitting memorial be established to members of the OHA who had fallen on the field of war. "Past President Capt. J.T. Sutherland, now in France, spoke of the splendid work done by Canadian boys in France and suggested the erection of a suitable memorial to hockey players who have fallen." --The Globe, Toronto, Ontario, Dec. 9, 1918.

"The (Memorial) cup, coveted prize of Canadian junior hockey, was the brainchild of Capt. Jim (Sutherland) when he was overseas in the Great War (1914–18) and at the time, President of the Ontario Hockey Association (1915–17). He wrote suggesting the trophy in memory of the boys who were killed in the war and no doubt a big part of the idea was instigated by his devotion to his beloved (Alan) Scotty Davidson*, who fell (June 6, 1915) with many other hockey players in the world conflict (including Capt. George T. Richardson*, who died in France, Feb. 9, 1916. (*Both are members of the Hockey Hall of Fame.) --William J. Walshe, Comments on Sport, The Kingston Whig-Standard, Jan. 6, 1939.

It started as an East-versus-West format, where the George Richardson Memorial Trophy champions from the East would play the Abbott Cup champions from the West.

From 1919 to 1928, the Memorial Cup Final was a two-game total goals affair between a champion from Eastern Canada and a champion from Western Canada, both of which were determined through a series of playdowns under the auspices of the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association. In 1929, the Memorial Cup Final became a best-of-three series.

In 1934, when the junior hockey teams were further divided between Junior 'A' and Junior 'B', the Memorial Cup served as the Junior 'A' championship trophy, and the Sutherland Cup became the Junior 'B' trophy. From 1937 the Memorial Cup was a best-of-five series, and in 1943 reverted back to a best-of-seven series.

For the 1971–1972 season, the Junior 'A' rank was further split into the Major Junior rank and a second-tier rank (referred nowadays as Junior 'A'), with the Memorial Cup serving as the Major Junior championship trophy, and the Manitoba Centennial Trophy, and later the Royal Bank Cup, serving as the second tier championship trophy.

In 1972, the Memorial Cup was contested between three teams: the champions of the three leagues of the Canadian Hockey League: the President's Cup Champs (WHL), J. Ross Robertson Cup Champs (OHL), and the President's Cup Champs (QMJHL). From 1972 to 1973 these three teams played a single round-robin (two games each), with the top two teams advancing to a single-game final. A semi-final game was added in 1974. In 1977 the tournament was expanded to a double round-robin (four games each), with no semi-final. The tournament was held at a pre-determined site which was rotated among the three leagues.

The 1983 Memorial Cup tournament saw the inclusion of a fourth team, the team hosting the event, which was done to boost tournament attendance. The first tournament under this format was held in Portland, Oregon, and marked the first time that an American city hosted the Memorial Cup. The host Winter Hawks also won the Cup that year, becoming the first American team to win the Memorial Cup. The four teams played a single round-robin (three games each). If two teams are tied for third place, then a tie-breaker game is played on Thursday, followed by a semi-final game between the second and third-place teams and a final between the first-place team and the semi-final winner. The site of the tournament continued to be rotated between the three leagues. This is the format that continues to be used today.

If the host team also wins its respective league championship, the Memorial Cup berth reserved for the league champion is instead awarded to that league's runner-up. This was the case in 2006, when the Quebec Remparts lost to the Moncton Wildcats in the QMJHL Finals. However, since Moncton was hosting the Memorial Cup that year, Quebec was awarded the QMJHL berth to the Memorial Cup tournament. The Remparts went on to win the Memorial Cup that season, the first time that a team has won the tournament without qualifying as the tournament host or as the champions of their respective league.

In the history of the cup, there has only been one major mishap with the cup itself. A replica trophy, which is the one teams are presented with on the ice after the game, broke apart while Spokane Chiefs captain Chris Bruton tried to hand it off to a teammate after being presented the cup on the ice at the 2008 tournament.[1] The crowd started heckling after the replica cup broke apart, while the Spokane Chiefs took apart the trophy and shared it around with teammates. The official cup is currently held at the Hockey Hall of Fame.

It is considered one of the hardest trophies to win in sports, as there are currently 59 teams competing each year to make the tournament, and a player has a maximum of five years to win it due to age restrictions.

Memorial Cup Tournament awards




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