Report: Fans win battle with NHL over Stanley Cup

TORONTO (Ticker) - Hockey fans have struck a victory against the mighty NHL.

According to a report on on Tuesday, an out-of-court settlement has been reached between two fans and the NHL that would make sure the Stanley Cup will not be locked away in the event of another lockout.

As part of the settlement, the league has agreed that trustees in charge of the Stanley Cup can award it to a non-NHL team in a year in which the league doesn’t operate, the report said.

The deal needs to be finalized, but ordinary fans could be one step closer to hoisting Lord Stanley’s Cup above their heads.

“They were doing this to establish a principle,” said lawyer Tim Gilbert of his clients, Gard Shelley and David Burt, who are members of a Toronto pickup hockey league called the “Wednesday Nighters.”

The lawsuit, filed in April in Ontario Superior Court, challenged the NHL’s claim that it controlled the Stanley Cup. Since the NHL was just holding onto the Cup during the work stoppage, the men asked that it be awarded to a top-ranking Canadian amateur team.

Trustees Ian Morrison, former head of the Hockey Hall of Fame, and former NHL official Brian O’Neill argued that couldn’t be done because the Cup has been under control of the NHL since an agreement was signed in 1947.

The resumption of NHL play this season has rendered the case moot, but Gilbert said the settlement still is a big win for Canadian hockey fans.

As another part of the settlement, the league has agreed to give $100,000 a year to hockey leagues for women and underprivileged children for the next five years. The money will be administered by the Canadian Hockey Foundation.

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Updated Tuesday, Feb 7, 2006