The Stanley Cup is arguably the hardest trophy to win in all of professional sports. In today's game players must endure a grueling 82 game regular season schedule, taking tortuous physical punishment along the way. With the parity in the game today the final month of the season ramps the intensity up even further. Teams on the bubble fight tooth and nail to earn a playoff spot and earn a shot at Lord Stanley's coveted silver chalice. When the dust finally settles only 16 of 30 NHL teams remain, and then begins the true test of their mettle. Teams must survive through four consecutive best-of-seven series in order to actually win the Stanley Cup. It is a two month tourney that leaves every player involved battered and bruised, and in some cases even nursing broken bones. Despite the pain they endured every player with their name on the Stanley Cup will tell you the price they payed was insignificant compared to their reward.

The Stanley Cup's history actually precedes the NHL, dating back to 1892. At that time Lord Stanley of Preston donated it (it was originally called the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup) as a prize to Canada's best amateur hockey club. Montreal HC was the first team to ever hoist the cup.

Starting in 1915 the Stanley Cup was awarded to the winner of a showdown between the NHA (National Hockey Association) champions and the PCHA (Pacific Coast Hockey Association) champions. However, leagues merged and went by the wayside and in 1926 the Stanley Cup was made the de facto prize for NHL clubs, and was first awarded in 1927 to the Ottawa Senators. Since then it has been awarded to an NHL franchise every year with the exception of 2005 when the NHL season was cancelled due to a lockout during collective bargaining. The Montreal Canadiens have won the cup the most times (24 championships) and the Boston Bruins are the most recent Stanley Cup winners, hoisting the cup in 2011. For a complete list of Stanley Cup winners by year, see below:

List of Stanley Cup Champions by Year

2011 -- Boston Bruins
2010 -- Chicago Blackhawks
2009 -- Pittsburgh Penguins
2008 -- Detroit Red Wings
2007 -- Anaheim Ducks
2006 -- Carolina Hurricanes
2005 -- Lockout
2004 -- Tampa Bay Lightning
2003 -- New Jersey Devils
2002 -- Detroit Red Wings
2001 -- Colorado Avalanche
2000 -- New Jersey Devils
1999 -- Dallas Stars
1998 -- Detroit Red Wings
1997 -- Detroit Red Wings
1996 -- Colorado Avalanche
1995 -- New Jersey Devils
1994 -- New York Rangers
1993 -- Montreal Canadiens
1992 -- Pittsburgh Penguins
1991 -- Pittsburgh Penguins
1990 -- Edmonton Oilers
1989 -- Calgary Flames
1988 -- Edmonton Oilers
1987 -- Edmonton Oilers
1986 -- Montreal Canadiens
1985 -- Edmonton Oilers
1984 -- Edmonton Oilers
1983 -- New York Islanders
1982 -- New York Islanders
1981 -- New York Islanders
1980 -- New York Islanders
1979 -- Montreal Canadiens
1978 -- Montreal Canadiens
1977 -- Montreal Canadiens
1976 -- Montreal Canadiens
1975 -- Philadelphia Flyers
1974 -- Philadelphia Flyers
1973 -- Montreal Canadiens
1972 -- Boston Bruins
1971 -- Montreal Canadiens
1970 -- Boston Bruins
1969 -- Montreal Canadiens
1968 -- Montreal Canadiens
1967 -- Toronto Maple Leafs
1966 -- Montreal Canadiens
1965 -- Montreal Canadiens
1964 -- Toronto Maple Leafs
1963 -- Toronto Maple Leafs
1962 -- Toronto Maple Leafs
1961 -- Chicago Blackhawks
1960 -- Montreal Canadiens
1959 -- Montreal Canadiens
1958 -- Montreal Canadiens
1957 -- Montreal Canadiens
1956 -- Montreal Canadiens
1955 -- Detroit Red Wings
1954 -- Detroit Red Wings
1953 -- Montreal Canadiens
1952 -- Detroit Red Wings
1951 -- Toronto Maple Leafs
1950 -- Detroit Red Wings
1949 -- Toronto Maple Leafs
1948 -- Toronto Maple Leafs
1947 -- Toronto Maple Leafs
1946 -- Montreal Canadiens
1945 -- Toronto Maple Leafs
1944 -- Montreal Canadiens
1943 -- Detroit Red Wings
1942 -- Toronto Maple Leafs
1941 -- Boston Bruins
1940 -- New York Rangers
1939 -- Boston Bruins
1938 -- Chicago Blackhawks
1937 -- Detroit Red Wings
1936 -- Detroit Red Wings
1935 -- Montreal Maroons
1934 -- Chicago Blackhawks
1933 -- New York Rangers
1932 -- Toronto Maple Leafs
1931 -- Montreal Canadiens
1930 -- Montreal Canadiens
1929 -- Boston Bruins
1928 -- New York Rangers
1927 -- Ottawa Senators