Lord Stanley’s Cup

Here’s some creative thinking from a New York Times op-ed regarding the NHL lockout and subsequent season cancellation. Author Anil Adyanthaya calls for the Stanley Cup to be awarded to the winner of the American Hockey League. The Stanley Cup is not property of the NHL (unlike the Lombardi Trophy which is property of the NFL, for example), but rather it is under the control of two trustees who get to award the trophy. The Stanley Cup, in fact, predates the NHL by 24 years (it was first awarded in 1893), and was not regularly given to the winner of the NHL until 1927. Between 1917 and 1927, the Stanley Cup was given to the winner of a playoff series featuring the best of the NHL versus rival professional leagues— the original Stanley Cup Challenge.

The Free Stanley web site has a different approach than the NYT editorial writer. They’re calling for a return to the original format of a massive hockey tournament, featuring amateur clubs, university teams, and minor league champions, to determine who should take home the Cup. The idea, inspired by European soccer tournaments, is unusual but it does have historical precedent so it is not without merit. It would be a nightmare to organize, but that probably wouldn’t be the hardest part. The hardest part would be convincing the Stanley Cup trustees to go along with it. In that regard, it would be probably easier for them to agree to award it to the winner of the AHL.

How cool would it be to be a minor league playing for the most historic trophy in all of sports? Presenting the 2005 Stanley Cup Champions: the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins!

UPDATE (2/21): Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like it can happen. Ontario’s attorney general looked into the matter, but determined that the Cup, which is held in private trust by the NHL, cannot be awarded to some other league or to the winner of a Canada-wide hockey tournament this year. Attorney General Michael Bryant said, “there’s just no way for there to be a legal obligation in private or public law that would require that the Stanley Cup be presented.” Too bad. No Cup this year for the first time since 1919. (thanks to the guys at ITA for the tip)

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