Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The NHL Does Not Own The Stanley Cup

There are still a few unresolved issues from the 2004/05 NHL lockout (for example the method of salary cap calculation is still being negotiated). One potentially significant one is the ownership of the Stanley Cup. In 1892, Canadian Governor General Lord Stanley of Preston donated the cup to be given to the Canadian amateur hockey champions. It was originally a challenge cup (like a boxing title) where the champion accepts a challenge from a top contender and they play a series for the cup. In time it became the prize for a series between the eastern North American hockey league champion (eventually this became the NHL) and the western North American hockey league champion. As time passed, the NHL was the only major hockey league left standing so their champions won the cup. In 1947, there was an agreement by the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association to hand over its trusteeship to the NHL. Because of this, the NHL has claimed ownership of the Stanley Cup. They have claimed that only NHL teams can challenge for it.

When the lockout occurred and the Stanley Cup was not awarded this position became challenged. Many people though that if the NHL was not going to award the cup, somebody else should have a chance to play for it. A few groups were organized including Free Stanley and Justice for Stanley.

The Justice for Stanley group is headed by Gard Shelley and David Burt of Toronto. They challenged the NHL's ownership of the Stanley Cup in court. A last minute settlement of the court case was established between this group and the NHL. The NHL agrees to spend $100,000 a year for five years on hockey leagues for women and underprivelaged children and the NHL acknowledges the fact that if it does not operate in future seasons, the Stanley Cup can be awarded to an non-NHL team.

Should another lockout or NHL stoppage in play occur, it will still be a battle to get the Stanley Cup awarded, but a precident has been established.

Here is TSN's story on this issue.

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