Whither Stanley?

As I write this the NHL is roughly 12 hours away from locking out the players for the third time in a row; right about now you are thinking that this is going to be a post about labour law (note labour spelled the proper way-with a “u”); but that is not the case. This post is going to trend closer to property law. You may recall that during the last NHL lockout a question arose as to the ownership and awarding of the Stanley Cup which arose in part from Lord Stanley’s words in 1892 when he wrote:

I have for sometime past been thinking that it would be a good thing if there were a challenge cup which should be held from year to year by the championship team in the Dominion.

Deriving from Lord Stanley’s original words and the trust that was created to oversee the the cup the “Wednesday Nighters” made an application to the Ontario Superior Court in 2005, challenging the NHL’s claim to ownership of the Stanley Cup. The origins of the story are explained in a Lawyer’s Weekly article from 2005: Does the Stanley Cup belong to the NHL or the Canadian people? The resolution to that application was an out of court settlement of which the details were only partly revealed in 2006, but led to the following article by Richard Blackwell in in the Globe and Mail in February of 2006 Hockey buffs win faceoff with NHL over Stanley Cup which led with the lines:

Hockey teams outside the NHL might get a chance to play for the Stanley Cup — if there’s ever another lockout or strike that kills an entire season.

In an out-of-court settlement expected to be finalized today, the National Hockey League acknowledged that the trustees who control the prize can award it to a non-NHL team in a year where the league doesn’t operate.

I have only mentioned the broad strokes of the issue as Jeremy De Beer wrote an excellent article in 2008 which covers the topic in depth and I would highly encourage you to read if you find this interesting and you can find with the preceding link at his website.

In light of all this there is a part of me that hopes that the NHL is so brazen as to wipe out another season and we can see the original spirit of the Stanley Cup returned as an amateur team gets presented with the cup in the Spring that has been crowned Champion of the Dominion.

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