History of the Memorial Cup
The 2023-24 season marks the 104th time the Memorial Cup is presented. The Memorial Cup, one of the most prestigious and coveted trophies in North American sport, has a rich tradition that has shaped the way junior hockey is played in North America. The trophy was originally known as the OHA Memorial Cup and was donated by the Ontario Hockey Association in March 1919 in remembrance of the many soldiers who paid the supreme sacrifice for Canada in The First World War. In 2010, the Memorial Cup was rededicated to the memory of all fallen Canadian Military Personnel.
Initially, the Cup was awarded to the national junior hockey champions of Canada. Later on, it came to signify junior “A” hockey supremacy when in 1934, junior hockey in Canada was divided into “A” and “B” classes. In 1971, when junior “A” hockey was divided into major junior and Tier 11 junior A, the Memorial Cup was awarded to the higher category and was given to the major junior hockey champions of Canada. In 1972, a round-robin tournament format replaced the old play-down system to determine the champions. Since then, the champions of the Western Hockey League (WHL), the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), and the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) have met each spring in a round-robin series with the two top teams playing off in a sudden-death game to determine the Cup champions.
The Memorial Cup became an international trophy in 1983 as the tournament was held outside Canada for the first time when the Portland Memorial Coliseum was the host arena. The hometown Winterhawks took home the title that year to become the first non-Canadian-based team to win the Memorial Cup. Portland again hosted the tournament in 1986 and Seattle played host in 1992. In 1991, the Spokane Chiefs of the WHL became the second U.S.-based team to claim the title. The Chiefs won the title again in 2008 in Kitchener, ON. In 2024, Saginaw will become the first American OHL city to ever host the Memorial Cup, while also marking the first occasion that the tournament has ever been held in the State of Michigan.
Since the tournament adopted its current round-robin format in 1972, WHL teams have won the title 19 times, OHL teams have claimed 17 titles, and QMJHL teams have won the title 14 times.
The 2025 Memorial Cup will mark the 105th edition of the event and it will be hosted by a club in the QMJHL.