Does this Season Deserve a Stanley Cup?

Posted February 2, 2013

The Cup visits Laurel, MD, in 2010, but not for the reason we were hoping. (Caps Outsider)

“I have for some time been thinking that it would be a good thing if there were a challenge cup, which would be held from year to year by the leading hockey club in Canada. There does not appear to be any outward sign of a championship at present, and considering the interest that hockey matches now elicit, I am willing to give a cup which shall be held annually by the winning club.”

Lord Stanley of Preston in 1892, at a sports banquet in Ottawa

The next year, Lord Stanley, Canada’s governor-general, purchased a silver bowl for $50 and named it the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup, for amateur ice hockey, according to Hockey folks went with a less formal designation, the Stanley Cup. In 1910, “the cup” turned pro, when the National Hockey Association took possession of it.

But what would the honorable and distinguished Lord Stanley think about his prestigious cup being presented at the end of such a tumultuous season as this? A season turned upside down and sliced in two by greed and selfish stupidity? A season in which federal mediator Scot L. Beckenbaugh gets credit for the save, not Martin Brodeur or Michal Neuvirth? A season in which a team with a new coach, a new system and no pre-season training is expected to perform competitively against teams with familiar players, coaches, and well established systems? My guess is that Lord Stanley would not think highly of the mockery team owners and the player’s union have made of the game he loved so much. Lord Stanley would not appreciate the players being locked out and fans being held at bay while lawyers and union reps duke it out in the boardroom.

Should the Stanley Cup be awarded to a hockey team for winning a season virtually cut in half? Probably. Without that ultimate goal, there would be nothing for the teams to fight for, nothing for fans to cheer and hope for.

Perhaps this year “the cup” could be modified. What if each player on the championship team were handed a silver-plated K-cup with their name on it? It could be called the Scot L. Beckenbaugh Cup. Maybe not.

In any case, Lord Stanley’s contribution to the great sport of hockey will remain historically significant, just like this year’s lockout and all the lockouts that came before it. The coveted Stanley Cup will be hoist in the air and skated around a rink by this year’s championship team. And however muddied by stubborn men and dollar signs, it will remain among the highest honors in the world of sports.

Thank you, Lord Stanley!