Because it's the Cup: The Robertson Cup quest begins
May 10, 2013
The Robertson Cup, the oldest junior hockey trophy in the United States, is awarded to the National playoff champion of the North American Hockey League and also represents USA Hockey’s Tier II Junior National Champion.
This weekend four teams, the Amarillo Bulls, Wenatchee Wild, Bismarck Bobcats and Jamestown Ironmen begin their quest to become the next Robertson Cup National Champion.
The Robertson Cup is named in honor of Chuck Robertson, a pioneer of junior hockey in the NAHL and youth hockey in the state of Michigan. Chuck Robertson was the owner of the Paddock Pools Saints when they won a record seven straight NAHL championships from 1976-83. Sadly, Robertson passed away in June of 2010, but his legacy lives on through the annual quest for the Cup.
“Chuck Robertson championed an unparalleled spirit of giving, all in an effort to see young hockey players realize their dreams, on and off the ice,” said NAHL commissioner Mark Frankenfeld. “His contributions to the game of hockey, specifically the North American Hockey League, have had a lasting effect on so many of our players, past and present, and his legacy will never be forgotten. We remember him annually with the awarding of the Robertson Cup.”
The Cup was first awarded in 1976 to Little Caesars, who at the time was owned by Mike Iltitch, current owner of the Detroit Red Wings. The Chuck Robertson-owned Paddock Pools Saints were the next to set the tone for excellence, capturing seven consecutive titles from 1977-84.
During later half of the 1980’s and early half of the 1990’s, the Compuware Ambassadors emerged as the junior powerhouse, winning eight of 10 NAHL titles from 1986 to 1995. The Detroit-based franchise closed out the millennium by taking league crowns in 1998 and 1999. Compuware's decade-long dominance was only interrupted by the Kalamazoo K-Wings, who won NAHL titles in 1991 and 1993, and the Springfield Jr. Blues, who won back-to-back championships in 1996 and 1997.
As the 2000’s came, the expansion Texas Tornado not only expanded the league beyond the Upper Midwest for the first time, but they established an era of dominance capturing four Robertson Cup Championships in 2001, 2004, 2005 and 2006.
The St. Louis Bandits were next to dominate the late 2000’s as they captured three straight crowns from 2007-2009. Two of those titles were under the direction of Jon Cooper, who is the current head coach of the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning.
In more recent times, the Cup has seen three different winners (Bismarck Bobcats, Fairbanks Ice Dogs, Texas Tornado) in the last three seasons.
Compuware has won the most Robertson Cup Championships with 11, followed by Paddock Pools Saints with seven. The Texas Tornado have won five and the St. Louis Bandits have won three. The Springfield Jr. Blues, Kalamazoo Jr. K-Wings and St. Clair Shores Falcons have each won two.
In total, over 800 names appear on the Cup, which is now in its 37th year of being awarded.
Whose name will be next? We find out in four short days.