As though the Canadian Hockey League Players’ Association (CHLPA) doesn’t have enough on its plate with its shaky existence, it’s done something that has hockey fans groaning: it formally petitioned the trustees of the Stanley Cup to allow CHL teams to play for the Cup in the event of a canceled season.
The format would be simple: the best CHL team at the end of the regular season would play the best postseason team. This would be in addition to the four-team Memorial Cup tournament, and presumably the best regular season team could be from any of the three CHL leagues – the Western Hockey League, Ontario Hockey League or Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. The best postseason team would, of course, be the winner of the Memorial Cup itself.
While the intentions behind the petition are sincere, there’s absolutely no chance that it’ll happen. Because of an agreement that was reached with Cup trustees and the NHL in 1947, the Cup has only been awarded to NHL teams. Attempts to play for it have been made by an AHL team, and most recently, a beer-league team, with both being rebuffed. Even though a court settlement in 2006 conceded that any team can play for it, the current Cup trustees have stated plainly that they won’t allow it.
If the season is canceled, there will be an ominous stamp on the Cup once again because the clubhouse called “Stanley Cup Champions” is currently marked with an “NHL teams only” sign. But hey, you can’t fault the players in the CHL for trying.