For Jews of a certain vintage, Passover Seders were synonymous with Stanley Cup chatter, but in 2022, the NHL’s champion will be decided well after Shavuot.
Several Jewish players have contributed to their teams’ playoff prowess this year, most notably the Edmonton Oilers’ Zach Hyman and the New York Rangers’ Adam Fox.
And although neither the Oil nor the Blueshirts made it to the finals, the question remains — just how many Jews have hoisted Lord Stanley, and how many Jewish names are immortalized on hockey’s holy grail, the oldest trophy for professional athletes in North America.
The Cup was donated in 1892 by Lord Stanley of Preston, then Governor General of Canada, and was to be presented to “the championship hockey club of the Dominion of Canada.” Winners from 1893 to 1926 were determined by challenge games and league play, involving teams from across the continent.
Jeff Vinik, who purchased a struggling Tampa team in 2010 and personally paid for arena upgrades and invested heavily in the Florida community, has been rewarded with his name on back-to-back Stanley Cups. Jeff Halpern, who missed a game in 2005 to observe Yom Kippur, and whose 14-year NHL career included three seasons with the Bolts, is now an assistant coach with the team. His name is inscribed on the 2020 and 2021 cups as is that of assistant equipment manager Jason Berger.
Tampa Bay has the distinction of having the most Jewish names on the Stanley Cup and may add more in 2022 as they are currently in the finals, hoping for a third straight triumph.
And, of course, no discussion about the Stanley Cup and our lantzmen would be complete without mentioning NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. He has appeared at every final playoff game since 1993, presenting the trophy to the winning team. For his efforts and genuine commitment to the game, he has been inducted as a member of the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 2016 and the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2018.