When the Los Angeles Kings knocked off the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals of the NHL Playoffs Sunday night, it set up the matchup for the 2014 Stanley Cup Finals between the Kings and the New York Rangers.
The Stanley Cup Playoffs are packed with excitement and features what many consider to be the coolest trophy in sports – the Stanley Cup. With the best of seven series beginning Wednesday, it got us thinking about some of the trophies that are awarded to teams in rivalry games across the country.
Instead of showcasing the best ones, we’ll look at the worst ones – past and present – instead.
You know, the ones where excited winning players look ridiculous with the trophy proudly held above their heads while you can’t even believe someone thought it would be a good idea to give to a winning team. Those are the trophies we’ll be highlighting here.
Let’s get started.
FIVE WORST TROPHIES IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL
No. 2 – The Paddlewheel Trophy (Cincinnati vs. Pitt)
The Paddlewheel Trophy is certainly unique.
Unlike the old Magnolia Trophy, which we covered Wednesday, the Paddlewheel Trophy is definitely eye-catching. It's almost four-feet tall and 100 pounds, and features a working telegraph from a ship at the top. The inside of which features both Pitt and Cincinnati.
Below it, there's an outline of the Ohio River, and dots representing the two cities. And on the telegraph, the winning team can pull a lever to one side or another to make bells ring. So not only is it a trophy, but it's a noisemaker and it's a quasi-map. Multi-use.
But because it's all three of those things it looks like a mishmash. And the colored dots to fill in Kentucky with the winner of each game? It kind of looks like a bad Connect Four board.
And while the trophy itself isn't great, neither is the rivalry or the impetus for it. The telegraph theme works; the two cities are connected by the river, which was once an integral source of shipping and transportation.
But that's really all they have in common. If you're ranking each school's rivalries, there's no way it comes in at the top. For Pitt, the top choice is West Virginia, and for Cincinnati, it's probably Louisville.
The first Pitt-Cincinnati game was played in 1921, and the teams played again in 1922 before not playing again until 1979. And then after a fourth game until 1981, the series didn't start up again until both teams were in the Big East and the River City Rivalry and trophy were created. So yeah, it's a bit of a created rivalry.
Cincinnati didn't win a game until the eighth game of the series in 2008, though it might have won the most important one in 2009, when a 45-44 comeback win over Pitt sealed a trip to the 2010 Sugar Bowl, where Florida walloped the Bearcats.
After Cincinnati's victory in 2012, Pittsburgh holds an all-time 8-4 series lead. And it's a lead that looks like it'll hold for a while. Since the Panthers moved to the ACC, the rivalry looks to be over for the time being.
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