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The strange tale of the Prince of Wales engraving error (and one fan's quest to prove its existence)

Aug 11, 2010, 7:15 PM EDT

About a week ago, a Chicago Blackhawks fan Brendan Millhouser posted photos on Twitter that featured an error so difficult to believe … that no one actually believed it. During a Blackhawks fan function, Millhouser noticed a stunning error: the Prince of Wales Trophy’s 2009-10 winner was incorrectly engraved as the Washington Capitals. Here are shots of his findings, the second of which is zoomed in to the Capitals error.

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(Both photos via Brendan Millhouser)

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After days of back and forth that even included a Hall of Fame spokesperson calling it a “fabrication,” it turns out that Millhouser was right after all. Here is more from that Puck Daddy story.

Hockey Hall of Fame spokesperson Kelly Masse told Puck Daddy on Wednesday that for a brief moment this summer, and at the Blackhawks Convention, the Washington Capitals were listed as 2009-10 Eastern Conference champions on the actual Prince of Wales Trophy.

“It was not Photoshopped. It was a real picture,” she said. “What happened was that it was incorrectly engraved, and the Hall of Fame people with the trophy realized it in Chicago. When they got back from Chicago, they got it properly engraved.”

Millhouser must certainly feel relieved to see his findings proven accurate. To be honest, the error initially seemed almost unthinkable – how could someone engrave the name of a team who didn’t even make it past the first round? And why would the Hockey Hall of Fame deny the mistake?

Apparently Kelly Masse explained that there are two copies of the trophy, so the spokesperson who called Millhouser’s findings a “fabrication” didn’t realize that the other Prince of Wales Trophy included an error. As far as why the error happened in the first place? Here’s Masse’s explanation.

“My guess is that not all trophies were engraved at one time. I think that they wanted to engrave the trophies that were going to Chicago as fast as they could,” she said.

“The Washington Capitals won the President’s Trophy [for the League's top regular-season point total]. I think the engraver made a mistake and [mixed up] Prince of Wales and President’s Trophy.”

Well, there you go. The Prince of Wales Trophy did, indeed, incorrectly include the Washington Capitals on that day in July. In a day and age in which Photoshop can make the improbable look real (or just as likely, the respectable seem foolish), Millhouser was telling the truth.

Does that make him the Boy Who Didn’t Cry Wales?

  1. Peter M. - Aug 11, 2010 at 10:29 PM

    I thought it is real due to the fact that he had more than one photo and from more than one angle. That’s a lot of extra work to fake something that is kind of trivial and might go unnoticed. What would he have had to gain by faking multiple images? (Besides sharpening his skills).

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