Originally posted on Puck Drunk Love  |  Last updated 5/23/12

We’re a week away from the beginning of the Stanley Cup Finals. The puck will drop in a NYC Metro area arena still to be determined. But one thing we do know is that within two weeks after that and possibly as soon as one, the NHL will crown a new champion and Gary Bettman will walk out onto the ice and hand Lord Stanley’s Cup to the captain of the winning squad.

This must be the last time such an event happens.

Forgive my bold assertion. Pardon my insistence. The job of awarding the trophy to the champion of a sports league is often eagerly undertaken by the league’s commissioner, whether David Stern or Bud Selig or Roger Goodell. 

But hockey in general and the NHL in particular isn’t like those other leagues. No other league can boast more tradition than a revival of “Fiddler on the Roof” like the NHL can. And that’s why the job of handing out hardware needs to go to a more worthy standard bearer.

Below the fold, I’ll break down this plan and explain why it must be so.

Tradition infuses hockey. From the named awards referencing the sport’s past to the congratulatory lineup at the end of even the most contentious post season series, hockey embraces the ethic of sportsmanship and the importance of history and tradition like no other game. The Stanley Cup itself memorializes those who earned the right to have their names etched on it.

Unlike the trophies for NFL, NBA or Major League Baseball victors, the same Cup is handed off from champion to champion. Since this represents a literal as well as figurative change of possession, why not have the captain of the previous year’s winner present the new champion’s captain with the Cup? Here’s why it must be so:

First, it represents fantastic sportsmanship. Like the handshakes and words exchanged between victor and vanquished, a captain who hoisted the Cup, is the ideal individual to present it to the next individual to earn such an honor.

Secondly, it’s dramatic. Entertain this charming bit of fiction for a moment. Let’s pretend the Bruins had advanced and were going to play in the Finals against the Kings. Zdeno Chara knows he is either going to hand the Cup to Dustin Brown or hold onto it. With more at stake comes more compelling play. And that makes a more entertaining game.

Finally, it’s unique. The NHL is an iconoclast. No other league uses a pure sudden-death overtime format. Their annual year end awards ceremony is one of a kind among major sports leagues, as is their relationship with the upstart broadcast partner challenging ESPN. 

As commissioner of the NHL, Gary Bettman has every right to award the trophy. But this is better. Bettman can give the speech about the great season and get booed lustily by the fans in whatever rink the final game is played. That’s the real PR of the moment, and as el queso grande, he can have that spotlight. I’m not at all suggesting that Zdeno Chara should be offering platitudes to the winning team.

What I am suggesting can be summed up in the motto of one of the Original Six. Famously, the locker room of the Montreal Canadiens is adorned with these words:

“To you from failing hands we throw the torch. Be yours to hold it high.”

The Cup presentation ceremony is a passing of a torch from one winner’s failing hands to the next. Be theirs to hold it high.

Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Greg Jennings: Ryan Tannehill has had his hands tied by coaches

Josh McDaniels 'happy' with Pats but wants to be a head coach again

WATCH: Jim Harbaugh in cleats throws out first pitch at Cubs game

Why Rickie Fowler will win the PGA Championship

Warren Sapp bitten on arm by shark


Fitzpatrick, Jets agree to one-year deal

Baker considering removing Papelbon from closer role?

Greg Hardy struggling to find work, reportedly even in CFL

Jets players told not to discuss Ryan Fitzpatrick situation

Brock Lesnar won't be punished by WWE for UFC drug test

Report: Cowboys to be fined up to $250K for suspended players

Report: Ravens WR Mike Wallace failed conditioning test

WATCH: Kobe Bryant drives Ferrari around Italian racetrack

Terrelle Pryor shouts out Ohio State after ban ends

Justin Timberlake advocates for Memphis to join Big 12

Poll: Las Vegas residents don’t support public funds for NFL stadium

Conor McGregor talks trash to Nate Diaz on ‘Conan’

We asked Team USA: What other Olympic sport would you play?

Real Madrid can’t train at Norwegian school because of the kids

Newspaper uses Michael Jordan ‘crying face’ as image

Equipment manager Blake Griffin punched no longer works for Clippers

Report: Nicks signing one-year deal with Saints

Reds 'picking up the pace' on Jay Bruce trade talks

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

We asked Team USA: What other Olympic sport would you play?

Why Gary Bettman's CTE denial is cause for concern for NHL

WATCH: Inside the Nike SNKRS BOX in SF for Golden Air Celebration

WATCH: Five other uniforms Chris Sale should cut up

QUIZ: Name every Olympic event in which the USA has never won a gold medal

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

WATCH: What teams should join the Big 12?

One Gotta Go: Do NBA players really love NBA2K?

One Gotta Go: NBA players hate Facebook too

One Gotta Go: NBA players settle the fast food beef

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker