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Rec league hockey players go to court...


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A group of recreational hockey players feels the Stanley Cup should be awarded this year and they aren't going to sit back and watch the sport's top prize gather dust.


The group, called the "Wednesday Nighters," filed a claim against the NHL and the trophy's trustees in Ontario Superior Court, seeking clarification of the terms under which Lord Stanley provided the Cup and how it is to be awarded today.


Toronto lawyer Tim Gilbert is leading the application, which is expected to be heard on July 18. Gilbert hopes to move up the date to May.


It is the group's belief that Lord Stanley wanted the best hockey teams to compete for the trophy every year when he donated the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup in 1892.


The cancellation of the NHL season should not prevent the cup from being awarded to some team, it argues.


Gilbert hopes the courts will force Cup trustees Brian O'Neill and Ian (Scotty) Morrison to search out teams to compete for the famous trophy this year.


O'Neill said the claims would be contested.


"We do not take this lightly," said Gard Shelley, an amateur hockey player in his mid-50s. "The Stanley Cup is the greatest sports trophy anywhere, ever. It is unique and a huge part of our culture and heritage."


In February, Canada's Gov. Gen Adrienne Clarkson said she believed that the Stanley Cup should be given to the top women's hockey team if the NHL wasn't going to present it this year.


At the time, O'Neill said there was no legal way to wrest control of the Stanley Cup away from the NHL. It would only be possible, he argued, if the NHL gave the trophy up or the league went out of business.


The top senior amateur hockey team in Canada already has a trophy called the Allen Cup.



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