Relax, everyone. That's not the real Memorial Cup that looks like it just went through four seven-game playoff series, which would have been more than the Shawinigan Cataractes had to do to win the trophy, incidentally.
Hockey fans' hearts everywhere skipped a beat over the past 24 hours after pictures circulated of a trophy sporting significant damage. However, the Canadian Hockey League has stated the trophy that the Shawinigan Cataractes have been passing around this off-season is not the genuine article.
— Aaron Bell (@Aaron_Bell) July 23, 2012
It's open to question whether the Cataractes have been rougher or more careless with the Cup's stand-in than any other recent championship team, but the proof is in the photographic evidence. The bowl has been dented. L'Echo de Shawinigan newspaper also reported on Sunday that the wooden base is cracked and the two miniature hockey player figurines which flank the bowl are missing. Where they throw-ins in one of the many off-season trades Shawinigan GM Martin Mondou has made at part of the team's rebuilding?
The Cataractes will have to pay for the damages. Granted, some cavalier spirits will say that after seeing the QMJHL's longest-running franchise win its first championship in May, the costs would have been cheap at thrice the price.
How the damage occurred was unclear. Each player on the championship team was allowed to have the Cup for 24 hours to celebrate in his home town.
The Cataractes won the Cup on home ice by defeating the London Knights in the junior hockey final in May.
League spokesman Photi Sotiropoulos said the Cup will be returned to the Canadian Hockey League, which will have it repaired.
There was no estimate on the cost of repairs, but the bill will be sent to the Cataractes. Winning teams that want to have the trophy over the off-season must take out $50,000 in insurance against damages. The Canadian Press
It is hard not to come to the conclusion that the Canadian Hockey League might have to evaluate copying the NHL's practice of letting the players pass around the championship trophy.
The NHL has an attendant assigned to the Stanley Cup; with the Memorial Cup, the players apparently take on the responsibility. It's not that the Cataractes have been any more irresponsible than any other team in recent history, necessarily. Put a fragile item in a group setting and well, stuff happens.
Understandably, people were in a lather prior to Aaron Bell's aforementioned clarification about the actual Memorial Cup.
The Memorial Cup. Why you don't give teenage boys nice things.
— Sasky Stewart (@saskystewart) July 23, 2012
Brutal. Memorial Cup badly damaged while in possession of Shawinigan Cataractes. Thousands have competed for Cup since donated in 1919. — Kevin Shea (@barilko) July 23, 2012
Shawinigan didn't deserve the Memorial Cup in the first place, so if anyone was going to destroy the thing...
— Dylan Bumbarger (@dylandb) July 23, 2012
In light of all this, are the 2008 Spokane Chiefs finally off the hook for dropping the trophy? That was a split-second occurrence and not really their fault. This is more of instance of carelessness.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.