22 Things You Might Not Know About the Stanley Cup

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Interesting facts and crazy stories about the trophy—which is older than the National Hockey League.

1. Who is Stanley, and what’s his cup?

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The Stanley Cup is named after Lord Stanley of Preston, the 1892 Governor General of Canada. He purchased the decorative cup in London for 10 guineas (around $50 at the time). Stanley donated the Cup to award Canada’s top amateur hockey club after he and his family became infatuated with the sport at Montreal’s 1889 Winter Carnival; it was first awarded to the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association (or MAAA) in 1893.

2. There are actually three Stanley Cups.

the stanley cup
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Stanley’s original Cup from 1892, known as the “Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup" (above), was awarded until 1970, and is now on display in the Vault Room at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

In 1963, NHL president Clarence Campbell believed that the original Cup had become too brittle to give to championship teams, so the “Presentation Cup” was created and is the well-known trophy awarded today. (Skeptics can authenticate the Presentation Cup by noting the Hockey Hall of Fame seal on the bottom.)

The final Cup is a replica of the Presentation Cup, which was created in 1993 by Montreal silversmith Louise St. Jacques and is used as a stand-in at the Hall of Fame when the Presentation Cup isn’t available.

3. But it’s one of a kind.

Unlike other major league sports trophies, a new Cup isn’t made every year. Instead, after each championship, the names of the players, coaches, management, and staff of the winning team are added to the Cup. The first team to have its roster engraved was the 1906-07 Montreal Wanderers, whose names were etched within the inner bowl of the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup. The only other team names engraved on the inner bowl are the 1914-15 Vancouver Millionaires.

4. And it’s always changing.

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More and more teams wanted to be immortalized, so the decision was made to put a separate single ring below the original Cup that each new winning roster would be etched on. Between 1927 and 1947, a new, more streamlined and vertical incarnation of the Cup was used. Thanks to its cylindrical shape, it was nicknamed the “Stovepipe Cup” (above)—but by 1948, the trophy had become too tall to hold or put on display, so the shape was changed to the tiered version used today.

5. Its rings are detachable.

Since 1958, five bands of championship names are engraved around the base of the Cup. When the rings become full, the oldest band is removed and preserved in Lord Stanley’s Vault at the Great Esso Hall in the Hockey Hall of Fame. A blank replacement band is then put in its place to be filled with the names of the next champions. No championship team names from the 1928-29 to the 1953-54 season are currently on the Cup.

6. The NHL has official engravers put each name on the cup.

In its 96-year history, there have only been four official engravers sanctioned by the NHL. The first was the 1948 Stanley Cup designer Carl Poul Peterson, a Danish engraver who moved to Montreal in 1929 and worked with his sons Arno, Ole, and John Paule in his engraving shop until his death in 1977. The current engraver is Louise St. Jacques (creator of the replica of the Presentation Cup), who took over from the second and third official engravers, Doug Boffey and his father Eric, at their shop Boffey Silversmith’s in Montreal in 1989.

To inscribe each name individually, St. Jacques disassembles the Cup from the top down, and then clamps the band being engraved in a homemade circular jig. She uses special small hammers and a series of letter stamps to strike each letter into the silver while using a metal level to keep the names as straight as possible. St. Jacques estimates that each name takes approximately a half-hour to inscribe and that it takes a non-continuous—not to mention patient—ten hours to complete every name for the winning team.

7. But they’re not always perfect.

Many champion player and team names are misspelled on the Cup. The name of the 1980-81 New York Islanders is misspelled as “Ilanders,” and the 1971-72 Boston Bruins’ name is misspelled as “Bqstqn Bruins.” Most of the errors are left on as they are—it would be too costly to fix the mistakes. But fans believe the errors add to the idiosyncratic nature of the Cup.

Corrections have been made, though: When 1996 champion Colorado Avalanche’s Adam Deadmarsh's name was spelled “Deadmarch” on the Cup, it was stamped out and corrected after he publicly stated how heartbroken he was about the error.

8. Sometimes the winning teams don’t play by the rules.

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The NHL will allow no more than 52 names from each year's winning team to be engraved, with the assumption that the people included are affiliated with or have played on that club during the Stanley Cup finals.

But Peter Pocklington—the former Edmonton Oilers owner perhaps best known for trading away The Great One himself, Wayne Gretzky—included his father, Basil, on the list of names to go along with the 1983-84 champion Oilers, despite the fact that his father wasn’t officially affiliated with the team. Once found out, the league had the engraver strike out Basil’s name with a series of capital Xs (above).

9. But sometimes, there are extenuating circumstances.

When the Detroit Red Wings won the Cup in 1998, the team asked that Vladimir Konstantinov's name be engraved on the Cup, even though he didn’t play that year. The NHL allowed it because Konstantinov was a team member who was seriously injured in a car accident before the Wings defended their title.

There are also a couple of instances where no names were inscribed at all, like when the Cup wasn’t awarded in 1919 due to an outbreak of Spanish Flu. It also wasn’t awarded for the 2004-05 season because of a lockout between the league and the players union. The entire space for the players’ names reads “SEASON NOT PLAYED.”

10. Some people make multiple appearances.

Henri Richard, brother of Montreal Canadiens legend Maurice “Rocket” Richard and a hockey great in his own right, is on the Cup a record 11 times as a player, while the legendary Scotty Bowman appears on the Cup the most for a coach with nine Stanley Cup wins as the skipper for the Red Wings, Penguins, and Canadiens.

With 24 victories, the Canadiens have taken home Stanley Cup more than any other NHL team—though their last win, unfortunately for Habs fans, was back in 1993. Montreal also holds the record for most consecutive Cup wins with five in a row from 1956 to 1960.

11. One fan tried to steal the Cup—but not for the reason you'd expect.

Montreal fans are so adamant about the Cup that during the 1962 playoffs, when the Cup was on display at Chicago Stadium for the defending champion Black Hawks (the name was compressed to “Blackhawks” in 1986), Habs fan Ken Kilander attempted to take the Cup and walk right out the door with it. When a police officer caught and questioned him, Kilander responded, “I want to take it back where it belongs, to Montreal.”

12. The Stanley Cup isn’t only for men.

Twelve women have their names inscribed on the Cup. The first was Marguerite Norris, who was the president of the Detroit Red Wings for their 1954-55 season victory. Sonia Scurfield is the only Canadian woman to have her name inscribed; she was the co-owner of the 1988-89 champion Calgary Flames.

13. Some people are superstitious about it.

Various players are wary of the Cup if they haven’t won it yet, and steer clear if they’re still in contention—in fact, some players on conference champion teams won’t even touch the respective Western Conference Campbell Bowl or Eastern Conference Prince of Wales Trophy so they don’t jinx their team’s chances at the real prize!

14. The Cup has a chaperone.

The Cup is always accompanied by at least one representative of the Hockey Hall of Fame, dubbed the “Keeper of the Cup.” The current Keeper, Philip Pritchard, has held the position since 1991 and even maintains a Twitter account to update followers on where the Cup goes from day to day.

Way back when the Cup was first donated, Lord Stanley mandated that two trustees must always be appointed to care for the Cup and ensure it was kept in proper condition. The two current trustees are Brian O’Neill and Ian “Scotty” Morrison, and according to the Hockey Hall of Fame, they “have absolute power over all matters regarding the Stanley Cup.”

15. The Cup belongs to the players … for one day.

The NHL allots each championship team one hundred off-season days with the Cup (accompanied by the Keeper, of course) to do with it as they wish. It was the 1994-95 New Jersey Devils who formalized the tradition of giving each player one personal day with the Cup during the off-season. In fact, since the ‘03 season, the Hall of Fame has been keeping journals of the Cup’s travels with each winning team. Though some players use their day with the trophy for peaceful reflection, others have gone a bit crazy with Lord Stanley’s Cup, as you’ll see below.

16. The Stanley Cup has gone swimming at least three times.

Following their 1991 victory over the Minnesota North Stars, Pittsburgh Penguins legend Mario Lemieux hosted the team at his house. When Lemieux wasn’t looking, Penguins winger Phil Bourque decided he wanted to see if the Cup could float—and threw the trophy into the captain’s in-ground pool. It didn’t float, and immediately sank to the bottom (thankfully, it was recovered unharmed).

Two years later the Cup also found the bottom of Montreal Canadiens goaltender Patrick Roy’s pool. But in 2002, when Red Wings goaltender Dominik Hašek attempted to swim with the Cup, the Keeper had had enough: He demanded Hašek dry off the trophy and give it back, thus cutting short his allotted personal day.

17. And it once spent all night in an Ottawa canal.

When the Ottawa Hockey Club, now known as the Ottawa Senators, won the Cup in 1905, the members of the “Silver Seven” had a little too much fun celebrating their victory. After the team banquet, some not-so-sober players brought the trophy outside and decided to test their accuracy by trying to kick the then-small Cup into Ottawa’s Rideau Canal.

Once successful, they went on their drunken way and forgot all about it—until their teammates realized the next day that the trophy was missing. Lord Stanley’s Cup was retrieved and given to a player named Harry Smith, the most responsible man on the team, for safekeeping.

18. The Montreal Canadiens won the Cup in 1924, and then promptly forgot about it.

When the members of the 1924 champion Canadiens got a flat tire on the way to the team’s victory banquet at owner Leo Dandurand’s house, they had to remove the Cup from the trunk of the car to get to the spare tire. The players, eager to celebrate their win, quickly changed the tire and made their way to the party. When the traditional time came for each player to drink champagne from the silver bowl, the Cup was nowhere to be found. The players had left it on the side of the road! They hopped in their car and sped back to the place where they had changed the flat and found the Cup in a snow bank on the side of the road—right where they had left it.

But that wasn’t the first time a Montreal hockey team had forgotten the Cup. The 1907 Montreal Wanderers left it at the home of a team photographer; the photographer’s mother used the Cup as a flower pot until the team came back to retrieve it!

19. Two babies have been baptized in the Cup.

After the Colorado Avalanche won the 1995-96 championship, defenseman Sylvain Lefebvre used his personal day with the Cup to have his daughter christened in the top bowl.

Eleven years later, after the Detroit Red Wings won in 2007-08, Swedish left-winger Tomas Holmström brought the silverware back to his native country so that his cousin could baptize his 7-week-old daughter in the trophy.

20. And it has seen its fair share of vice.

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The Edmonton Oilers were a force to be reckoned with in the 1980s. Between 1984 and 1990, the team won five Stanley Cups and were led by two hockey greats, Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier (above). Legend has it that after their 1986-87 win, Messier brought the Cup to an Edmonton strip club called the Forum Inn and set the trophy on the main stage. One of the ladies dancing at the club then reportedly incorporated the Cup into her risqué routine.

When he won the Cup again in 1994 with the New York Rangers, Messier and his teammates brought the trophy to another strip club—Scores in Manhattan.

21. It also might hold a curse, among other things…

When Messier and the Rangers won in 1994, it ended a record 54-year championship drought for the Broadway Blueshirts (the team hadn’t won since the 1939-40 season). Fans believe that the curse might have been brought on because the Rangers disrespected the Cup.

During the ’39-’40 season, the mortgage on the Rangers’ home rink—at the time the third incarnation of Madison Square Garden—was finally paid off. To celebrate, the management of the team symbolically burned the mortgage documents in the bowl of the Stanley Cup. Then, left-winger Lynn Patrick and his teammates allegedly urinated in the Cup’s bowl to bizarrely celebrate their victory. The Rangers finally took home the trophy again in 1994, but they haven’t won hockey’s ultimate prize since.

22. And the Cup went to war.

It’s been all over the world, from Russia to the Czech Republic to Sweden, but in 2007, the Stanley Cup went to war. To boost morale for Canadian and American troops serving in the Middle East, the Cup was flown into an active war zone at Camp Nathan Smith in Kandahar, Afghanistan, for a meet and greet. Canadians love nothing more than hockey, and you can read up on the reactions from the troops on the Hall of Fame’s Stanley Cup Journal when it went to Afghanistan here.

12 Amazing Facts About Catherine the Great

Catherine the Great moved to a foreign land as a teenager and became one of the most important leaders in its history. During her 34-year reign, she transformed Russia’s culture while expanding its borders. Here's what you need to know about the unlikely ruler, who is the subject of not one, but two series: HBO's Catherine the Great, which debuts on October 21, 2019, and Hulu's The Great, slated for 2020.

  1. Catherine the Great's name wasn't Catherine.

The woman who would become Catherine the Great was born Sophie Friederike Auguste von Anhalt-Zerbst on April 21, 1729 (Julian Calendar) in Stettin, Prussia (now Szczecin, Poland). She was the daughter of Christian August, a minor German prince and general in the Prussian army, and Princess Johanna Elisabeth, who had connections to the Russian royal family.

Despite being a princess herself, young Sophie wasn’t exactly a top-tier member of the European nobility. But thanks to her mother’s campaigning, she was chosen to marry Karl Peter Ulrich (later known as Tsar Peter III), heir to the Russian throne. The couple wed on August 21, 1745. Sophie converted to Russian Orthodoxy—despite her Lutheran father’s objections—and took on a new Russian name: Ekaterina, or “Catherine.” Her official title would be Empress Catherine II (Peter the Great's second wife had been Empress Catherine I).

  1. Catherine the Great's marriage to Peter the III was rocky.

Catherine and Peter were an ill-matched pair: Catherine was bright and ambitious whereas Peter, according to Britannica, was "mentally feeble." Catherine didn’t like him: “Peter III had no greater enemy than himself; all his actions bordered on insanity,” she wrote in 1789. Her memoirs portray the Tsar as a drunk, a simpleton, and somebody who “took pleasure in beating men and animals.” Whether these statements are accurate or not, Catherine and her spouse were clearly unhappy, and they both had extramarital affairs. Catherine had at least three affairs, and hinted that none of her children were her husband's.

  1. Catherine the Great overthrew Peter the III so that she could rule.

Peter III assumed the throne on January 5, 1762, and was immediately unpopular. He enraged the military by pulling out of the Seven Years’ War and making big concessions to Russia’s adversaries in the process.

Eventually, Catherine believed that Peter was going to divorce her—so she worked with her lover, Grigory Grigoryevich Orlov, and her other allies to overthrow him and take the throne for herself. In July 1762, just six months after he took the throne, Peter III was deposed in a coup d'état. Eight days later, he was killed while in the custody of one of Catherine's co-conspirators.

With Peter out of the picture, Catherine became the new empress of Russia. She was formally crowned on September 22, 1762. She never married again, and took numerous lovers during her long reign.

  1. Voltaire was basically Catherine the Great's pen pal.

Catherine, a bibliophile, built up a collection of 44,000 books. Early in her reign, she began a correspondence with one of her favorite authors: The great Enlightenment philosopher Voltaire. Russia fascinated Voltaire, who had written a biography of Peter the Great. Catherine would never get the chance to meet him in person, but through these letters, she and Voltaire discussed everything from disease prevention to Catherine's love of English gardens.

  1. Catherine the Great annexed Crimea.

Russian interest in the Crimean Peninsula long predates Vladimir Putin. After the Russo-Turkish War of 1768 to 1774, Catherine seized the landmass, thus strengthening Russia’s presence on the Black Sea. And her conquests didn’t end there. Over 200,000 square miles of new territory was added to the Russian empire during Catherine’s rule. Much of it was acquired when the once-independent nation of Poland was divided between Austria, Prussia, and Russia. Tsarina Catherine’s slice contained portions of modern-day Lithuania, Latvia, and Ukraine.

An illustration of Catherine the Great.
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  1. Great Britain asked for Catherine the Great's help when the Revolutionary War broke out.

In 1775, the Earl of Dartmouth approached Catherine with a request for 20,000 Russian troops to help Britain put down the colonial rebellion in America. She refused. As the war continued, British diplomats kept trying to establish an alliance with Russia, hoping that the Empress would either send military aid or, failing that, pressure France into abandoning the American cause. Catherine did neither. However, out of concern for Russian shipping interests in the Atlantic (and elsewhere), she did attempt to mediate an end to the violence between Britain and its rebellious colonies in 1780.

  1. Alaska was colonized on Catherine the Great's watch.

Russian explorers had been visiting Alaska since 1741, but the empire didn’t set up its first permanent colony there until 1784, when merchant Grigory Shelikhov sailed to Kodiak Island and established the Three Saints Bay Colony. Later, in 1788, he visited Catherine in St. Petersburg and asked if she’d give his company a monopoly over the area’s lucrative fur trade. She denied his request, but thanked the explorer for “[discovering] new lands and peoples for the benefit of the state.” Russia’s colonial presence in North America would continue long after Catherine’s death—and it wasn’t limited to Alaska.

  1. Catherine the Great embraced inoculation.

Thomas Dimsdale, an English physician, built upon an existing technique for immunizing people to smallpox. The technique involved finding a carrier of the ailment, then taking a blade dipped in a very, very small amount of "the unripe, crude or watery matter" from that person's pustules and injecting it into the patient’s body. In 18th century Russia, smallpox claimed millions of lives, so Catherine was eager to see if Dimsdale’s strategy worked. At her invitation, he came to Russia and quietly inoculated the empress. The procedure was a success, and with the Tsarina’s encouragement, Dimsdale inoculated about 150 members of the nobility. Before the end of the century, approximately 2 million Russians had received smallpox inoculations.

  1. A rebel claimed to be Catherine the Great's dead husband.

Catherine’s Enlightenment-fueled beliefs didn't lead to the demise of serfdom. According to Marc Raeff in his book Catherine the Great: A Profile, "During her reign it was possible to buy and sell serfs with or without land, buy whole families or individuals, transact sales on the estate or marketplace; contemporaries termed all this ‘veritable slavery.'”

The unjust arrangement triggered 160 documented peasant uprisings in the first 10 years of Catherine’s reign. The best known of them was Pugachev’s Rebellion (1773-1775) [PDF], which was organized by Yemelyan Pugachev, a veteran of the Russo-Turkish wars. To win support, he introduced himself as Catherine’s deposed and deceased spouse, Peter III (even though Pugachev looked nothing like Peter). Pugachev and his followers enjoyed some big military victories early on, but after a crushing defeat in August 1774, their revolution fell apart. Pugachev was captured and executed in Moscow on January 10, 1775.

  1. Catherine the Great's art collection was the basis of St. Petersburg's State Hermitage Museum.

In 1764, Catherine purchased a set of 225 paintings—including works by Rembrandt and Frans Hals—from a Berlin dealer, and founded the Hermitage with those works. Catherine went on to buy or commission thousands of additional pieces for her budding museum. Today, the State Hermitage Museum has more than 3 million items in its collections.

  1. Catherine the Great was Russia's longest-serving female leader.

Thirty-four years after assuming the throne, Catherine passed away on November 6, 1796. The monarch was succeeded by her son, Tsar Paul I.

  1. Wild rumors flew after Catherine the Great's death—including that one about the horse.

A lot of rumors sprung up in the wake of Catherin's death. One said that she had died while on the toilet, while another—the most persistent tale, and a completely unfounded one—claimed that Catherine the Great was crushed to death while attempting to have sex with a stallion. Where exactly the story came from is unknown; an autopsy determined that the empress had actually died of a cerebral stroke.

10 Facts About the Beastie Boys's 'Sabotage' Video

Beastie Boys via YouTube
Beastie Boys via YouTube

With their raucous mix of rock and hip-hop, the Beastie Boys were a band everyone could love. They also made killer music videos, and their 1994 video for “Sabotage” is arguably one of the greatest in the history of the medium. Directed by Spike Jonze and inspired by ‘70s cop shows, “Sabotage” finds the Beasties in cheesy suits, wigs, and mustaches, cavorting around L.A. like a bunch of bootleg Starskys and Hutches. If you were alive in the ‘90s, you’ve seen “Sabotage” a million times, but there’s a lot you might not know about this iconic video.

1. It all began with a photo shoot.

Spike Jonze met the Beastie Boys when he photographed them for Dirt magazine in the early 1990s. The band showed up with its own concept. “For years, Beastie Boy Adam Horovitz had been talking about doing a photo session as undercover cops—wearing ties and fake mustaches and sitting in a car like we were on a stakeout,” Adam “MCA” Yauch told New York Magazine. Jonze loved the idea so much he tagged along when the Beasties went wig shopping. “Then, while he was taking the pictures, he was wearing this blond wig and mustache the whole time,” Yauch said. “For no apparent reason.” So was born a friendship that begat “Sabotage.”

2. Spike Jonze filmed “Sabotage” without permits.

The Beasties weren’t big fans of high-budget music videos with tons of people on the set. So they asked Jonze to hire a couple of assistants and run the whole production out of a van. “Then we just ran around L.A. without any permits and made everything up as we went along,” MCA told New York. They’re lucky the real cops never showed up.

3. The Beastie Boys did all their own stunt driving.

After binge-watching VHS tapes of The Streets of San Francisco and other ‘70s cop shows, the Beasties knew they needed some sweet chase scenes. “We bought a car that was about to die,” Mike D told Vanity Fair. “We just drove the car ourselves. We almost killed the car a couple of times, but we definitely didn’t come close to killing ourselves.”

4. “Sabotage” inspired the opening sequence of Trainspotting.

Danny Boyle's 1996 film Trainspotting famously opens with Ewan McGregor and his buddies running through the streets of Edinburgh to the tune of Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life.” In the DVD commentary, Boyle revealed that the scene was inspired by “Sabotage.”

5. Two cameras were harmed in the making of “Sabotage.”

“Sabotage” was supposed to be a low-budget affair—and it would’ve been, had Jonze been a little more careful with his rented cameras. He destroyed a Canon Scoopic when the Ziploc bag he used to protect the camera during an underwater shot proved less than airtight. He apparently told the rental agency the camera stopped working on its own, but he wasn’t as lucky when an Arriflex SR3 fell out of a van window. That cost $84,000, effectively tripling the cost of the video.

6. MCA crashed the stage of the MTV Video Music Awards to protest “Sabotage” being shut out.

At the 1994 MTV VMAs, “Sabotage” was nominated for five awards, including Video of the Year. In one of the great injustices of all time, it lost in all five categories. When R.E.M.’s “Everybody Hurts” won Best Direction, MCA invaded the stage dressed as Nathanial Hörnblowér, his Swiss uncle/filmmaker alter-ego. “Since I was a small boy, I had dreamed that Spike would win this,” MCA said as a confused Michael Stipe looked on. “Now this has happened, and I want to tell everyone this is a farce, and I had the ideas for Star Wars and everything.”

7. There’s a “Sabotage” comic book you can download for free.

After MCA’s death in 2012, artist Derek Langille created a seven-page “Sabotage” comic book in tribute to the fallen musician and filmmaker. You can download it for free here.

8. There’s also a “Sabotage” novel.

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of “Sabotage,” Oakland-based author and Beasties super-fan Jeff Gomez wrote a five-act novel inspired by the video. He spent months researching cop movies and real-life police lingo, and he watched “Sabotage” about 100 times, keeping a detailed spreadsheet of all the action unfolding onscreen. “They created a really great universe, and I just wanted to play around in it for a little bit,” Gomez told PBS.

9. There’s a “Sabotage”/Sesame Street mashup on YouTube.

In 2017, YouTuber Is This How You Go Viral, a.k.a. Adam Schleichkorn, created the video “Sesametage,” a reimagining of “Sabotage” made with edited bits of Sesame Street. It stars Big Bird as himself, The Count as Cochese, and Oscar the Grouch as Bobby, “The Rookie.” Super Grover, Telly, Cookie Monster, and Bert and Ernie also turn up in this hilarious spoof of a spoof.

10. “Sabotage” nearly became a movie—kind of.

Jonze and the Beasties had such a blast making “Sabotage” that they wrote a script for a feature film called We Can Do This. The movie, which they later abandoned, was set to feature MCA in two roles: Sir Stuart Wallace, one of his “Sabotage” characters, and Nathaniel Hörnblowér (whom he portrayed during that 1994 VMAs protest). Jonze told IndieWire the film would’ve been “ridiculous and fun,” which sounds like the understatement of the century. “There were no 1970s cops in it, but it was definitely in the same spirit,” he said.

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