Kate Shefte: Hockey's unwritten rules: Here's why you don't touch the trophy or step on the logo

Kate Shefte, The Seattle Times on

Published in Hockey

SEATTLE — Watch your step. Don't touch that trophy. That one's OK, as long as the captain says it's OK.

Hockey is riddled with strange superstitions and one of the NHL's biggest taboos, and one of its unwritten rules, is fairly well known. Someone who harbors dreams of winning the Stanley Cup one day absolutely, positively does not lift it over their head beforehand.

"Big no-no," Kraken alternate captain Yanni Gourde, who has lifted the famous chalice twice, said. "You haven't earned it until you've won it. I think it's kind of cool."

Some don't want to touch it at all, even on display. When the trophy is out and about during the summer, spending a day with each member of the winning team in the city of their choice, you'll occasionally see a friend leaning into photos awkwardly, hands by their sides.

When teams file in to surround the Prince of Wales Trophy, awarded to the Eastern Conference champions, and the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl in the West, the celebration is muted. It's a toss-up whether they'll touch the hardware at all. It isn't the trophy they want, after all, and their sights are set on the Stanley Cup. Perhaps touching a lesser trophy will invite a jinx, scaring away the bigger prize.

It's a relatively recent tradition. Philadelphia Flyers captain Eric Lindros is credited with starting the trend in 1997, when he opted against celebrating with the Wales Trophy.


"We're happy to make the finals, but our mission is not complete," Lindros said at the time.

In the years since, some have followed suit — roughly half of the conference champions. Anecdotal evidence seems to play a huge part.

The eventual 2023 Stanley Cup champions, the Vegas Golden Knights, didn't touch the Campbell Bowl after team leadership decided against it. The Golden Knights handled the trophy in 2018 before losing in the Final to the Washington Capitals and were apparently wary of repeating that mistake.

The team they would beat in five games, the Florida Panthers, cheerfully carried around the Wales Trophy back East. So, 2023 favored the suspicious. But there's no strong correlation — plenty on both sides of the debate have gone on to win the Stanley Cup.


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