Inside a Montreal studio on Rue Saint-Francois-Xavier, an artist doesn't put her name on her work; instead, names are her work.
Louise St. Jacques is the personal engraver of the Stanley Cup, the trophy's artisan scribe. She is one of just four people to ever officially have the job.
“I am very fortunate and proud to engrave the Cup,” St. Jacques said by e-mail. “I have been stamping the Stanley Cup for the past 37 years, and it still makes me flutter inside every time I see it.”
She's previously put “St. Louis” on the Cup — Martin St. Louis won it in 2004 with Tampa Bay — but this will be the first time St. Jacques' St. Louis is in reference to our city. To our city's champions. After the Cup's summer of possessing toasted ravioli and Bud Light, spaghetti and babies, hockey's cherished chalice will arrive at her studio for the ceremonious and meticulous engraving process.
“Personally, I think it's one of the most important positions surrounding the game — the silversmith for the Stanley Cup,” said Phil Pritchard, the “keeper of the Cup” who works for the Hockey Hall of Fame. “The aura of the Stanley Cup is created through its history and tradition.”
The Stanley Cup's keeper, who travels with it, and engraver, who personalizes it, put the personal touches on the Cup, which touches people so personally. The Stanley Cup is more recognizable than some of the stars who have won it. It's bigness is ubiquitous.
It is an "honor and privilege that I cherish,” St. Jacques said. “It is such a coveted trophy. . . . And it's an amazing story that St. Louis, through sheer determination, heightened their level of play to winning the Stanley Cup.”
Carl Peterson was the first person hired to engrave the Cup, and upon his death in 1977, the responsibility was passed down to his son, Arno. When their silversmith shop was closed, Boffey Promotions, a previous supplier for the NHL, got the assignment. Doug Boffey and now Louise St. Jacques have engraved the Cup on Rue Saint-Francois-Xavier.
And while “engraving” is the verb most-associated with the Stanley Cup, St. Jacques actually stamps the champions' names on the nearly 35-pound trophy of silver and nickel alloy.
“By the time we receive the Cup, I have been planning to execute the stamping of 52 names on the cup,” said St. Jacques, who will put the names of the Blues players, coaches, executives and owner. “I need to get several hundred letters arranged in a predefined space. The names vary considerably in length and the lines of names as well.”
Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester aren't just daunting to the Boston Bruins.
“Once I have removed the bottom ring from the cup and placed it on my steel form, I begin to measure my space,” St. Jacques said. “It is essentially a freehand job. My tools consist of a hammer and three different sets of metal letter punches. These punches are in different sizes including upper and lower case letters with a raised letter at the end.
“Then the stamping begins letter by letter. After all is done, the Cup is polished and put back together.”
The Cup has quirks. They give it character. For instance, Boffey botched something with the 1983-84 Oilers, though it wasn't necessarily his fault. Edmonton's owner was Peter Pocklington, and he also submitted the name of his father, who wasn't associated with the team. Would be cool to get dad's name on the Cup, he thought. But that's not how it works. And so, the NHL asked that the name be removed.
There are, famously or infamously depending on how you look at it, 16 X's covering BASIL POCKLINGTON. St. Jacques accidentally spelled the name of Adam Deadmarsh, a 1995-96 Colorado Avalanche player, ADAM DEADMARCH. It was later corrected — a first, according to the Hockey Hall of Fame. Other typos that predated St. Jacques included the 1962-63 TORONTO MAPLE LEAES and the 1971-72 BQSTQN BRUINS. The 1941-42 Maple Leafs list players WALTER BRODA. And TURK BRODA, however that's the same guy.
In all, there currently are 2,238 names on the Stanley Cup — and on its website, the Hall of Fame points out that doesn't include Basil Pocklington. The Blues' additions to the Cup will include forward Patrick Maroon, who joked to Pritchard that his name already is on there — the old Montreal Maroons won the championship before.
Maroon, of Oakville, will be the second St. Louis-bred player to have his name on the Cup. St. Charles' Brandon Bollig of the 2012-13 Chicago Blackhawks was the first. And Blues assistant coach Sean Ferrell will get his name on the Cup. He's from Webster Groves.
Every Blues name will be etched with care and etched into lore.
“Each year, Louise gets the honor of stamping the names of the winning team into the ever-evolving Stanley Cup, . . . ” Pritchard said. “And there is no better tradition in sport than the names going on the Stanley Cup.”