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Is the Stanley Cup really the hardest trophy in all of pro sport?


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#1 RedWingsRox

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 01:18 PM

Surely you have heard this at one time or another, even Buttman said it last night in his presentation. I know it is gruelling ... 4 rounds of best of 7, lasting 2 months long, lots of travel, but we're about to watch the finals of the NBA whose playoff format is exactly the same, 8 teams from 2 conferences, 4 rounds of best of 7, 2 months of playoffs ...

Winning the Superbowl has its own demands, the physicality of playoff NFL games is brutal. Although they don't play as many games, it is still 4 rounds (unless you get a bye).

Baseball seems like it is the easiest sport, hardly any toll on the body, few or little contact. WAY too many regular season games.

I respect the winners of the Stanley Cup and would consider it one of the hardest trophies to win in pro sports but maybe NHL should be a bit more humble.

#2 Z Winged Dangler

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 01:29 PM

baseball is most likely the easiest, and the team that overpays the best players usually takes the prize. there's a sport that needs salary caps.

football is tough, but you play 25ish games per year, and basketball....what can i say about that one, not even close to hockey. the physicality of hockey alone throws it over basketball and the fact that you need 4 good lines to win, not a few spares to give your 2-3 good players a rest.

NHL is by far the most coveted and hardest trophy to win in all of sports.

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#3 Wings_Toledo

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 02:05 PM

baseball is most likely the easiest, and the team that overpays the best players usually takes the prize. there's a sport that needs salary caps.

football is tough, but you play 25ish games per year, and basketball....what can i say about that one, not even close to hockey. the physicality of hockey alone throws it over basketball and the fact that you need 4 good lines to win, not a few spares to give your 2-3 good players a rest.

NHL is by far the most coveted and hardest trophy to win in all of sports.


I'm assuming you're talking about the CFL. The NFL only plays 16 regular season games and then 3 or 4 post-season games max. Either way, there are only certain positions on any football team that actually play more than a couple of plays the entire game.

#4 Buppy

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 02:23 PM

... there are only certain positions on any football team that actually play more than a couple of plays the entire game.

Yeah: QB, OL, RB, WR, TE, DL, LB, DB... hardly anyone.

Football is really probably the toughest. Takes even more good players to build a championship football team, only 6 of 32 teams make the playoffs, and then one poor game (or even a poor half/quarter/series) could end your season. Maybe easier for an underdog team to ride a hot streak to a title, but I think harder overall.

NHL though is certainly the biggest "grind", and likely the most physically demanding.

#5 redwingmachine

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 02:37 PM

Did you know that in football the ball is only in motion about 11 mins out of every game? That seems like a lot of standing or "huddling" to me.


The NHL definitely has the toughest season and the toughest playoffs.

#6 commadore183

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 02:56 PM

Hardest? Depends on how you define "hard".

If by quantity of games, then baseball is the hardest: 162 games plus the best of 5 round and the two best of 7 rounds, totaling a maximum of 181 games; it's pretty hard to stay on it for that many games. The large number of regular season games makes it a bit easier to get in as you have a margin of error the width of the Grand Canyon. It's a bit more of a grind than most here think it is.

If by quality of games, then football has it: 16 regular season games, plus a maximum of 4 playoff games, totaling 20; in the regular season, two or three bad games can see you on the outside looking in, and if you do get in the playoffs, it just takes 1 bad half to kick you out of it.

If by physically, then both the NHL and NFL are at the top, but with less games to play in the NFL, there's a smaller margin of error than in the NHL.

I'm not going to get into motorsports (mainly because there's so damn many kinds, plus everyone will just skip past this section so Awesome Makey Whoopsie Brown Trousers).

Objectively, it's probably the NFL's Vince Lombardi Trophy is the hardest to get: short regular season (small margin of error to make the playoffs), a win-and-advance playoff season (an even smaller margin of error), and the physicality of the sport makes it the hardest of the North American sports.
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#7 esteef

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 03:08 PM

Depends on the officiating. :ph34r:

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#8 dobbles

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 03:21 PM

Yeah: QB, OL, RB, WR, TE, DL, LB, DB... hardly anyone.

Football is really probably the toughest. Takes even more good players to build a championship football team, only 6 of 32 teams make the playoffs, and then one poor game (or even a poor half/quarter/series) could end your season. Maybe easier for an underdog team to ride a hot streak to a title, but I think harder overall.

NHL though is certainly the biggest "grind", and likely the most physically demanding.


would like to point out that 12 teams make the playoffs, not 6.

however, the reason i quoted is because i actually agree that football is tough. the regular season is so short that 1 or 2 games means everything. and one and done in the playoffs is a scary thing. its the one sport where the best team doesnt always win. look at the packers the last 2 seasons. 2 years ago they stunk up most of the regular season and then go on a hot run at the end to win the super bowl. then the next season they are great most of the year and get bounced in their first game. i just think the shortened schedule makes it tougher to predict who will win.

if we are talking about the pure physical grind then obviously its probably hockey. the schedule is more grueling and the game is just as physically demanding. also, the stat that redwingmachine mentioned is perhaps the most overlooked thing about football. the ball is rarely in play even though most fans think its the most grueling and physical game out there.

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#9 Nev

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 03:28 PM

Of the North American sports, its obviously a toss-up between the NFL and NHL. Don't forget the inclement weather that some of those playoff games are played in.....brrrrr!

Overall though, I think it would be hard to top the Tour De France. 21 stages in 23 days, 150km+ in the saddle everyday, in baking heat and freezing rain, up the sides of enormous mountains, then down the other side at 50, 60, 70mph with no protection. Broken collarbones are to professional cyclists what missing teeth are to hockey players.
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#10 wingslogo19

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 03:43 PM

The stanley cup is the holy grail for a reason

Edited by wingslogo19, 12 June 2012 - 03:45 PM.

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#11 VM1138

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 03:43 PM

Yes, it is. The NHL, NBA and MLB have similar playoff lengths. The MLB is a joke when it comes to athleticism. As someone else previously noted, in the NFL you are only out there for a few plays and while it's a physical game it's not consistent physicality. A few seconds and boom, you're done.

So that leaves the NHL and the NBA. The NBA is hardly a physical sport anymore and again, and to compare it to the NHL is a joke.

So yeah, the Cup is the hardest to win.
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#12 haroldsnepsts

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 03:43 PM

I dont know if it's the toughest, but it's absolutely the best trophy.

4 grueling best of 7 rounds the players don't get paid for, all for one day with the Cup and having your name engraved on it for eternity.

To me that beats a tiny little silver football trophy any day. :D

#13 GSBrooks13

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 03:48 PM

The NFL might be comparable physically but in terms of hardest trophy to win I don't they even come close. I would put the NFL on the same level as like the Hockey World Championships.. At least in my mind only having to play each team once requires more luck than anything. Any team can get lucky and outplay another team for one game, but it's pretty hard to play a best of 7 series and not have determined who was the better team at that time.

Edited by GSBrooks13, 12 June 2012 - 03:49 PM.

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#14 Wings_Toledo

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 03:57 PM

Yeah: QB, OL, RB, WR, TE, DL, LB, DB... hardly anyone.

Football is really probably the toughest. Takes even more good players to build a championship football team, only 6 of 32 teams make the playoffs, and then one poor game (or even a poor half/quarter/series) could end your season. Maybe easier for an underdog team to ride a hot streak to a title, but I think harder overall.

NHL though is certainly the biggest "grind", and likely the most physically demanding.


WRs and RBs, as well as DBs and certain DEs rotate in and out throughout games so I would hardly consider them on the same page as the QBs and regular linesmen.

While it is easier to be eliminated in American football, it's also easier to advance. Having to win 4 games every series in the NHL is much harder by comparison. Just ask the Kings. They had the Finals in the bag but had trouble closing out the series until Game 6.

#15 commadore183

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 04:31 PM

Of the North American sports, its obviously a toss-up between the NFL and NHL. Don't forget the inclement weather that some of those playoff games are played in.....brrrrr!

Overall though, I think it would be hard to top the Tour De France. 21 stages in 23 days, 150km+ in the saddle everyday, in baking heat and freezing rain, up the sides of enormous mountains, then down the other side at 50, 60, 70mph with no protection, occasional motorists. Broken collarbones are to professional cyclists what missing teeth are to hockey players.

FTFY :ph34r:
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#16 Yzerfan1999

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 04:40 PM

I think its FOR SURE the most grueling and toughest physically trophy to win, but then again a trophy like the World Cup that is only available every 4 years is pretty difficult to win too - especially considering the parity of the top 5-10 soccer nations, and the amount of games you need to play to even qualify.
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#17 Seraph

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 04:52 PM

I'm biased toward Stanley being the hardest. From the above discussion, I think we've narrowed it down to NFL versus NHL. And while football players take on a lot of physical abuse in their sport, I don't feel like the intensity level is as sustained as the NHL. Have you ever played hockey? It takes so much drive to make something happen at the end of a shift, or better yet, not let yourself slip up and make a mistake. Players somehow find a way to fight through injuries and keep grinding away for two months straight. That takes so much mental toughness. While I admire the athleticism of football players, the stop-and-go nature of it puts it in second place for me. There's something to be said for the mental battle and and hunger needed to bring home a cup. I mean, how many times have we seen good teams exit early because injuries erased them or they weren't mentally prepared?

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#18 arag

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 04:53 PM

I agree that the World Cup in soccer is the hardest trophy to win overall. But the question most likely was abouth NHL, NBA, NFL and alike. Pro sports that are played every year. In that case it is the Stanley Cup in my opinion.
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#19 irishock

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 05:05 PM

Easiest to Hardest

Any soccer league title
NBA title
World Series
Super bowl
NCAA March Madness basketball
Stanley Cup

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#20 martyrme19

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 05:59 PM

I tried my best to read each response and I feel like no one really mentioned the obvious.

All of what people said about why the NHL and NFL are among the toughest are right. However with one glaring absence. Simply put - more NHL teams can realistically win the Stanely Cup in the playoffs than any other sport. Look no further than this years 8 seed winning it all.

Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I doubt that has ever happened in the NBA. Even before the lockout, upsets were always rampant. Now, this is why I differ it from the NFL (where low seeds can also have success). In the NFL, a low seed can go far by going on a streak simply because its 1 and done. Anyone can get lucky a couple of times. But only the perfect makeup of the NHL requires just enough games to make it supremely tough for even the best team in the NHL to win, and for a low seeded team to prevail. If a low seed team wins, they prove that it wasn't a fluke whereas in the NFL, you can't claim that.

K, end of story.
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