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09-27-2003, 06:26 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2002
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NHL Custody of Stanley Cup

Today's National Post has a story that suggests that the NHL's stewardship of the Stanley Cup may be in doubt, since the trustees to the cup who transferred its rights to the NHL in 1947 may not have had the authority to do so.

Unfortunately, I do not have a link to this story, since a quick search of the post website did not have it. However, it can be found on p. 3 of today's edition. The story goes on to mention that Lord Stanley created the trophy in 1892 and only left verbal instructions for its use. His conditions were that it was to be a challenge cup awarded to the champion amateur hockey club of the Dominion of Canada. Lord Stanley gave the cup to two trustees, that gave them sole authority over the cup, and also set out a one-paragraph "Deed of Gift" that indicated his wishes. Then in 1947, the trustees signed a memorandum of agreement with Clarence Campbell that delegated to the league "full authority to determine and amend from time to time the conditions of competition for the Stanley Cup".

Therein lies the question. Did the trustees that assigned the rights over the conditions exclusively to the NHL have the authority to do so given the conditions of their trusteeship from lord stanley?

To me, this is a very important question that's importance cannot be underestimated. I have been very sceptical of the possibility of the players association being able to form a viable league (if it came down to it). However, one of the obstacles to the new league (and there are many), is that the players themselves would have an emotional attachment to the right to challenge for the Stanley Cup. If the NHL did not control the right to award the cup, this would change considerably. In addition, despite the well documented profile problems of hockey in the US, one of the more interesting news features I saw in the last couple of years was a report - I believe I saw it on a major U.S. network - where they asked men and women in the street of US cities to name pro-sports trophies. The vast majority came up with the Stanley Cup right away. Clearly it is an important symbol all over the world, and so a new league that was able to award the cup to its champion would seem to me to have a huge leg up on legitemacy that it would not have if it awarded a new trophy without the same history.

My question for discussion - how strong is the case for NHL retaining control of the cup? Would this change in the event of a long lockout? Any thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated.


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