Should other teams play for 'Stanley'?
Sep 20, 2012 / 6:51 am
Unlike during the season-killing 2004-05 lockout, which saw the Cup shelved for a year, the legal door is open this time for the trustees to allow non-NHL teams to compete to slurp bubbly from Lord Stanley's mug.
Just don't hold your breath.
The Cup trustees have the power to make it happen but don't want to go there, one said in an interview.
"It's just not going to happen," Brian O'Neill, a Stanley Cup trustee and former NHL vice-president, told The Canadian Press.
"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."
The Stanley Cup does not belong to the NHL.
Created in Sheffield, England, the Cup was originally presented to the Canadian people in 1892 as a gift from then-governor general Lord Stanley, the representative to this country of Queen Victoria.
Control of the Cup was eventually handed over to the NHL under a 1947 agreement between trustees and the league, which was revised in 2000. It declared the trophy could not be awarded to a non-NHL team in the event of a lost season.
A couple of hockey fans launched a legal challenge during the 2004-05 lockout to amend this aspect of the agreement between trustees and the NHL, leading to an out-of-court settlement a year later.
The two Toronto beer-league hockey players didn't want to see the Cup gather dust due to the squabbles of millionaires.
The settlement says nothing prevents trustees from awarding the trophy to a non-NHL team in a year the league fails to hold a competition to determine a winner. There are no obligations, however, placed on trustees to share the prize.
"Any year in which the NHL fails to field a competition...it's open to the trustees to award the Cup to a non-NHL team," said Toronto lawyer Tim Gilbert, who argued the case on behalf of the pickup hockey players.
O'Neill, who shares responsibility of the trophy with fellow trustee Ian (Scotty) Morrison, said despite changes to the agreement, nobody outside the NHL will raise the Cup.
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