|The Cup is so well known and beloved partly because of its relationship with the NHL. (Getty Images)|
If the NHL does the unthinkable and ends up canceling the entire season again, the Stanley Cup won't be awarded to any team. That's exactly what happened in 2004-05.
That resulted in a permanent tattoo of shame on the Stanley Cup to remind us of what we lost. It's an ugly sight to behold on the world's most beautiful (we would also accept awesome) trophy.
The CHLPA wants to change that.
You remember the CHLPA -- the hastily thrown-together union for junior players in Canada's CHL leagues. It's headed, at the moment, by former NHLer Georges Laraque and has more drama than Days of our Lives or the Pentagon. Well now it's posturing for its players to compete for hockey's Holy Grail.
CHLPA has officially submitted application to the Stanley Cup Trustees to allow CHL to compete for the Stanley Cup if NHL lockout continues— CHLPA (@theCHLPA) November 13, 2012
What about the Memorial Cup, the already established and well-regarded prize for the CHL champs?
@sieenns Memorial Cup will be played for first followed by Stanley Cup for top 2 point leaders in CHL for both reg season and playoffs.— CHLPA (@theCHLPA) November 13, 2012
Oh, CHLPA, don't ever change. You've hardly been around for long and you've already given us so much entertainment. This is the latest "look-at-me" moment.
To be clear, there is nothing that says the Stanley Cup has to go to the champion of the NHL. The Cup is actually older than the league itself and was historically given to the top amateur team in Canada in its infancy. But since the 1920s it has been the championship trophy of the NHL and nobody else.
No matter how much the CHLPA applies, it's not going to happen. The keepers of the Cup have already said even if there is no season then the Cup will not be awarded.
Really, it's hard to disagree with the decision to not award the Cup to a team not in the NHL, particularly to a junior team. People, Canadians mostly, will argue the trophy is bigger than the league and its legacy should continue.
But the Stanley Cup has become attached at the hip to the NHL at this point. The connection is so strong the NHL ran its entire postseason marketing campaign based on the Cup because it resonated the most with fans who might not be huge NHL enthusiasts. The world's best players wait for the chance to touch that trophy, to drink from its chalice. Part of the allure is that it's the same trophy all the greats before have touched. Imagine if a 17-year-old got to drink from the Cup and spend a day with it. Great memory for them, sure, but it would feel tainted, like they didn't really earn it.
Then again, maybe it would taint the Cup more if another empty year were etched into it. But that's the only option because, like everything else it seems, the CHLPA won't win this one.