Finally. After 113 days the NHL lockout has been settled and we can get back to watching games instead of the bickering between the league and the NHLPA. Fans of NHL hockey have certainly been dragged through the muck so far this season and despite many public prostrations they will be back.
They will be back because they love the game, the pace, the intensity and of course Lord Stanley’s Cup.
The Stanley Cup is arguably the most iconic trophy in all of professional sports. Perhaps it’s because there is only one trophy and the winner only gets it for a year. Perhaps it’s because all of the previous winners’ names are etched into its body. Perhaps it’s because it is the only trophy in pro sports that is first handed to one of the players that helped win it. Perhaps because it is the hardest trophy to win as the champion teams have to endure four rounds of grueling, physical hockey and often are the last men standing.
Does the Cup deserve better?
This lockout has bloodied the face of the sport we all love. Neither the owners nor the players have come across smelling like roses and neither side seems to have really cared about the fans through out this process.
Hockey has taken a hit and while everyone is excited the season is back it will be a while before the nasty taste in our mouths has been washed out.
For that reason, the NHL and the Stanley Cup should take a break from each other. The Cup deserves better, it deserves to be awarded after a season that hasn’t seen everything holy in the sport ripped apart.
Now there have been some people who have tried to wrest the Cup from the NHL this year already, to no avail. They shouldn’t get it either. There should be no Stanley Cup Champion this year.
Past Stanley Cup winners have had to survive what are generally the toughest playoffs in sports. After playing 82 regular season games they have had to fight and claw their way through three playoff rounds just to get to the finals. When it’s finally over the look on the winning side is a combination of elation and pure exhaustion.
This is what makes the Cup special.
The 2010-2011 champion Boston Bruins had to endure three, tough seven game series to win their cup. By the time Zdeno Chara lofted the trophy over his head in Vancouver the Bruins had played 107 games. Even if this year’s champs were to equal Boston’s playoff journey they will only have played 73 games – not even a full regular season.
Does that team deserve to have their names on the same cup as Chara’s Bruins? Or any other Cup championship team?
For this year only the league should simply award the playoff champion as 2013 NHL Champions. The team still gets rings and still gets to hang a banner in their arena. They just don’t get their mitts on the Cup.
Now some may ask about the tradition of the NHL, how can the winner not get the cup? There is not much more traditional than the Stanley Cup, how can they not award it?
The answer to this has played out over that past few locked out months, where tradition has been thrown out the window with little regard. We’ve already soiled tradition this season so let’s not get any of that muck on the Stanley Cup.
One moment that would be lost is the players skating the Cup around the arena after it’s been won.
If we must have that then we can construct a temporary championship trophy, shaped as a golden dollar sign, and it can be called the Bettman-Fehr Memorial Trophy.
Andrew writes about the WHL and NHL Draft Prospects. He also covers the Seattle Thunderbirds for 710 ESPN Seattle and spent two years with Sportsnet. Follow him on Twitter @andyeide.