Hands off the silverware, Grapes

So Don Cherry likes the idea of changing the name of some of the NHL’s year-end trophies, does he? Breaks my heart to say it, but I guess he is a bad role model after all.

by Colby Cosh

So Don Cherry likes the idea of changing the name of some of the NHL’s year-end trophies, does he? Breaks my heart to say it, but I guess he is a bad role model after all.

Let’s not get distracted by broad notions of respecting heritage and preserving the old imperial spirit of hockey. Most of these trophies were given to the NHL specifically so that people’s memories would be preserved in perpetuity by means of some small token. The Norris Trophy was donated to the National Hockey League by the children of James Norris. The Art Ross trophy was a gift from Art Ross. The Hart Trophy, or the original one, came from David Hart. Not many people know who James Norris, Art Ross, and David Hart were, but if anyone does, it’s because of the generosity and devotion to hockey of themselves and their families.

It would be morally and spiritually unspeakable for the league to unilaterally annul these pledges and rename these objects, and the arguments given for doing so are asinine. We want to rename the Norris Trophy for Bobby Orr because… everybody already knows who Bobby Orr is? Memorials are meant for the people we all still remember, are they? Then why the heck do we call them that?

The heritage angle is relevant too, but it is only likely to confuse things. When the NHL locked out its players in 2004 and decided not to hold a Stanley Cup tournament, we were all outraged that a long tradition had been broken. But while we were lamenting for history, we weren’t quick enough to remember that the NHL doesn’t have any ethical claim at all to exclusive control of the Cup, and isn’t even its legal owner. That principle has now more or less been established by a court settlement, but in the meantime, the league succeeded in holding the Cup hostage in a labour dispute.

Now it wants to turn its other trophies, whose beauty and antiquity are the envy of all other professional sports, into cheap marketing trinkets. Unless you believe the conveniently anonymous NHL source who says the idea was to make the trophies more “relevant” to the players. If I said something that stupid to a journalist, I would insist on anonymity too. (þ: Staples)




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Hands off the silverware, Grapes

  1. I am kinda surprised that Cherry said the things he did. I assumed he would be a traditionalist. Or he still wants to be old-school, look at the names he wants to make trophies more relevant to kids today, but not too old.

    How seriously is the League thinking about this? I hope not too much because it would be outrageous to change names. Tradition is everything when it comes to sport. No more nonsense about relevancy.

    And Staples, Feschuk have at least one thing in common.

    • Jello.

  2. I was really worried by the headline and post, until I saw who they were thinking of naming the trophies after.

    All excellent players well deserving of honours, and all, I'd imagine, players who'd say "You'll change the name of that trophy to my name OVER MY DEAD BODY".

    As Cosh says, the history and tradition of the NHL's trophies is the one area in which they are the envy of pretty much every professional sport that I can think of (name any of the trophy's for any of the other major sports). This is one small step removed from renaming the Stanley Cup, and if it were to ever actually happen on Bettman's watch I don't know if he'd ever be able to show his face in this country again (and I'd strongly advise him not to!).

    Hell, I'm still a bit steamed over the re-naming of the Conferences and Divisions…

    • (name any of the trophy's for any of the other major sports).
      Some guy named Cy Young comes to mind. But, I will grant you, that was it.

      I'm still a bit steamed over the re-naming of the Conferences and Divisions…
      May I suggest some fresh air?

      • Cy Young was at least dead for 20 or so years before they created that award. Also, it was first awarded in the late 50's I think. Don't the NHL trophies predate that by a wide margin?

      • That's an excellent example (though as you say, pretty close to unique if not the only one). That said, I've always thought of it as the Cy Young "award". Are we certain there's an actual "trophy" by that name??? For example, the World Cup of FIFA is arguably much more famous than the Stanley Cup, but I've always taken that name, in this context, to refer to the EVENT, whereas the trophy you get for winning the World Cup may have some name no one's ever heard of… like the "Commissioner's Trophy" that you win for winning the World Series, or the "Larry O'Brien Trophy" that you win for winning the NBA Championships (seriously).

        I would accept that the Vince Lombardi trophy is also up there, but it's not quite the same stature (i.e. held in the same reverence as a trophy… the physical object) as, say, the Stanley Cup, and it's also the trophy for all the marbles. I have no idea if there even IS a trophy for Super Bowl MVP, (there's an award but is there a trophy?) let lone what it's called, and there's certainly nothing that rivals the stature of the Conn Smyth, or even the Norris.

        • there's certainly nothing that rivals the stature of the Conn Smyth, or even the Norris…

          …the contenders for which are as we speak strutting their stuff on the VS Network, unless WWE Raw Live or UFC or extreme poker will preempt it…

          • LOL, fair point, but a trophy can be antique, and meaningful and revered and still be of no interest to "the masses" no?

        • The official name of the World Cup trophy is the (sigh) World Cup Trophy. It's only been around since 1974, but then the World Cup only started in 1930. The earlier Jules Rimet trophy has an interesting history: it was stolen twice, and never recovered after the second theft.

  3. Surprising Cherry would favour that. I still, after all these years, hate the division names. They should go back to naming the divisions and conferences after notable names in hockey.

    • The NHL was pretty cagey here, volunteering to name a trophy after the player who Don Cherry has a creepy man-crush on. How else would they get him on board?

      • I dunno, I think they screwed up by not aggressively courting the media. Rename something after Doug Gilmour and everyone in Toronto supports you. Rename something after Esa Tikkanen (the Selke Trophy?) and you can bring Cosh on board, presumably. You're not going to be able to do anything about the Vancouver, Calgary and Ottawa media but those teams haven't had anyone who rises to the appropriate level of significance. Although…maybe Calgarians could pretend that the Gilmour thing was because of his time with the Flames.

        • The Yashin Award
          The Daigle Award

          Maybe not renaming current awards, but they could be new ones… and if it irks Ottawa fans, Toronto fans are more likely to support it.

        • Leafs fan here, and a big fan of Doug Gilmour, but there's no way you'd get me on board with naming a major award after him. NO WAY.

          The man may be justifiably beloved in the T-Dot, and we may have all forgotten what it's like to cheer for a championship team, but we're (mostly) not crazy.

          • Leafs fan here…

            I will try not to hold that over you if we enter into future debates. It would be slam dunk ad hominem, mind you…

        • I don't want anything to take the wind out of my "Edmonton Will Henceforth Be Known As 'Tikkanen City'" campaign.

          • They already have Wayne Gretzky Drive, although it is a somewhat less impressive piece of roadway than Gretzky might have hoped for.

          • You take the road because it looks like it has promise, only to fizzle into a dead end? Given the Phoenix debacle, maybe it is quite appropriate…

            (Back from a quick little google-mapping)

            Hey wait a minute. You're talking 75 St NW that even gets a bridge over the river!

          • Quite appropriate, indeed.

            The entire Drive is about 5 km long, starting at 101 Ave and ending about 5 km later in a jumbled interchange with the Yellowhead highway (the northern brother to the Trans Canada Highway across the prairies). The section of WGD that sweeps down to, across and away from the (North Saskatchewan) river mostly meets expectations, but the rest….not so much.

            WGD does, of course, pass by the Coliseum, although I'm told that the home of the Oilers has a different name now.

  4. This is so stupid only Don Cherry could rationalize this to the masses. Moving forward lets rename the Stanley Cup – the Nortel Cup. Oh right, that doesn't work.

    This is so idiotic on so many levels What a public loon to even suggest these changes, Gee, do you think he wants to be a Senator in the Harper government? There's some spaces in the New Year.

  5. They should create a new award, called the "Bettman Trophy" and Don Cherry could present it to the NHL Exec that has the years dumbest idea.

    I'm open to suggestions as to what the trophy would look like

      • A bust of Bettman, with the top of his head removed -about mid forehead – inside is a hockey rink with the stands about 1/3 full

        • Youz guyz is thinkin' too hard! It'll just be someone scoring on his own net.

  6. "I would change the Hart to the Gordie Howe," Cherry said.

    "I don't know who Mr. Hart is, … I have no idea who he is and nobody else does. "

    For Chrissake, the man has spent a lifetime in hockey. Is really that proud of his ignorance?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hart_Memorial_Trophy

    • Can someone please tell me how to provide links that work?

      • You've got some brackets and slash-A 's in there at the end, messing up Wikipedia's delivery. I just copy the URL from the web browser line and then just paste it in here. Without the A-and-slash-A stuff. Oh, there's some way to bury the tag within a bit if text, and there will be no shortage of geeky types to tell you how (like I've been allegedly "taught" in the past), but I just copy-n-paste the line.

        • Thank you! The funny thing is, all I've ever done is cut and paste from the web browser. But then Intense Debate somehow mangles it. I suppose I'll have to Google and learn the fancy way.

          • I copy urls then paste them into comment box. Links normally work fine except when I submit comment, notice a typo or some such and then go back into edit my comment. Link no longer works if I go back and edit comment so I have to paste url in again and remove old link.

          • and thank you!

          • *That* explains it. I tend to spastically post and then belatedly correct errors by editing. No more prufreeding for this boy.

          • "I tend to spastically post and then belatedly correct errors by editing"

            Me to. For some reason, I only seem to notice errors once I have submitted comment.

          • No more prufreeding for this boy.

            It might be better that way. Well, at least more entertaining.

          • No point fueling my jalopy ideas with high octane grammar and spelling, I suppose!

  7. Damien Cox also argued for changing the names on TSN's That's Hockey a few nights ago. I found it interesting – and contradictory – that he saw the Stanley Cup as sacrosanct. Of all the trophies namesakes, Baron Stanley has the least connection to hockey of all.

    My conclusion is that it is all about branding opportunities from the NHL perspective. The Stanley Cup is the strongest and so cannot be touched, but the others, save Maurice Richard trophy, are virtually unknown and could be replaced with higher profile names like Orr, Howe, Gretzky, (Cherry?), etc.

    The only hurdle will be the deeds of gift of the existing trophies. They would probably have to return the old trophies and create new ones. Sic transit gloria hockey.

    • Yeah, the ethical corollary of the idea is that the existing trophies should just be chucked. Which might make the stupidity of what they were doing way too obvious.

    • "Lord" Stanley of Preston

    • with higher profile names like Orr, Howe, Gretzky

      And then two, three or four decades from now our kids can start the whole exercise over again when only a few fans can remember Orr and Howe.

      What a dumb idea.

  8. Canadians unite in outrage at the thought of renaming the NHL's silverware.

    I like.

    This too makes me question Grapes' judgment. No longer like the idea of Cherry as GG — would he try to rename Rideau Hall?

    I too think that the divisions and conferences should go back to the old names (though we'd need to add a couple of new ones, now…).

    • Hmmm, possible names for Rideau Hall with Don Cherry as the occupant: Coach's Corners? Ottawa Gardens? Rock Em, Sock Em Hall?

      I'm sure any one of you can do better than those…

        • That has the added benefit of having HH as the initials…

        • I wouldn't be surprised if large events weren't held in the Doug Gilmour Ball Room.

          • That would have to be the Dougie Gilmour Ball Room.

          • 'Where the balls would be the biggest of them all…

          • Very nice; coincidentally, your inspiration also has there memorable <s>sex</s> sections…

            Well I'm ever upper-class high society
            God's gift to ballroom notoriety
            And I always fill my ballroom
            The event is never small
            The social pages say I've got
            The biggest balls of all….

            Some balls are held for charity
            And some for fancy dress….

            How did they know.

          • It felt so naughty to listen to that when I was about twelve. Seems rather Norman Rockwellish now, by comparison to today's kids.

      • House Of Grapes would be good. Don could tell the kids, C'mon down and we'll have a few pops at the HOG….
        Bubba

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