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Canadian Politician: Award Stanley Cup, with or Without NHL

December 22nd, 2012 at 9:00 AM
By Paul Lane Sabres 101

A member Canada's parliament says the Stanley Cup should be awarded this year regardless of whether there is an NHL season.

'Stanley Cup' photo (c) 2010, Jim Kelly - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Brent Rathgeber, a member of the House of Commons from Edmonton, wrote on his blog that the cup should return to its roots and be issued to an amateur Canadian team should the NHL extend its lockout and wipe out the 2012-13 season:

"So if the 2012-2013 NHL season is unsalvageable, I propose that the trustees exercise that very discretion and award the Stanley Cup to the best amateur or beer league or women’s or sledge hockey team in Canada. That would allow the trustees to fulfill their obligation to exercise their duties in the best interests of the original purpose of the trust, which was to promote amateur hockey in Canada. How absolutely Canadian!!"

Lord Stanley did, indeed, decree the cup be given annually to the amateur champions of Canada when he gave it to the fledgling nation in 1892. He put two trustees in charge of awarding the trophy annually. These trustees are still in place today, but they ceded the sole right to award the Stanley Cup to the NHL in 1947.

The only time since a flu outbreak in 1919 that the trophy wasn't issued was 2005, when the last lockout wiped out the 2004-05 season. Amateur players from Ontario filed a lawsuit that season say the cup should be issued that year to the best non-professional team in the dominion of Canada. A settlement was eventually reached in which it was ruled the trustees could award the cup to a non-NHL team, but they did not have the obligation to do so. That settlement was reached after the lockout ended the next year, though, so it became a non-issue.

One of the trustees, Brian O'Neill, said in September the trophy would not go anywhere this season unless the NHL resumes play:

"It's just not going to happen. The Stanley Cup should be awarded to the top National Hockey League team, which has been determined to be the top league in the world. Anything less than that would demean the trophy."

One of the cup's guardians – the guys in white gloves who are seen handling the trophy during Stanley Cup Finals games each June – said this month, though, the trophy could and should be played for:
 
"I guess it would be exciting to try to have some kind of a mock tournament or something, where maybe somebody else might win it," said Howard Borrow. "People have always dreamed about maybe winning it, even if they don't play at the NHL level. It would be kind of fun, I guess. The cup doesn't really belong to anybody, it almost belongs to everybody. So, technically it could be played for."

Borrow has no official input on what happens with the trophy.

The trustees would make a marvelous public relations move with hockey fans if they opted to award the trophy. But it's understandable that they're acting in order to preserve the sanctity of the Stanley Cup's name. The trophy is widely regarded as the hardest to win in all of sports, and players won't touch it unless they've won it, so wouldn't it cheapen the significance of having your name etched on the trophy to be able to win it simply by kicking in $50 with your bar buddies on a Sunday night?

Even so, it's a fun concept to play with. Just don't expect that play to become anything more than fantasy.

Tags: Buffalo, Buffalo Sabres, Hockey, NHL

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