New ring's first words hang in the balance

CHRIS DOUCETTE -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:51 AM ET

Hockey fans may be struggling to determine if their glass is half empty or half full as the NHL teases them with new hope for saving the 2004-05 season. But the Stanley Cup is completely full.

The Tampa Bay Lightning filled up the last space on the highly coveted trophy when they won it last spring, so another ring will have to be added this year. However, what will be the first engraving on the ring remains a mystery.

"I know in 1919 they had 'season not completed' or 'incomplete' or something," Kelly Masse at the Hockey Hall Of Fame said yesterday, referring to the year hockey was canned due to an influenza epidemic. "But I don't know if it will say 'locked out,' 'season not completed,' 'cancelled,' or what."

The Stanley Cup rests on top of several tiers, which are mounted to a barrel containing five rings. Each ring has enough space to carve the names of members from 13 hockey teams, so a new ring must be added every 13 years.

But Masse explained that because the Cup is so big, an old ring is now taken off and stored in the Hockey Hall of Fame each time a new one is added.

That means the 1967 Cup-winning Maple Leafs will one day be a distant memory. The Leafs must win within the next 26 seasons or Father Time will bump them off the Cup in 2031.


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