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New Trophy for Women's Hockey in Canada
Female players refused Stanley Cup because it is traditionally a men's award
David Kootnikoff (kaspian)     Print Article 
Published 2006-07-25 11:22 (KST)   
It took the near death of the NHL, but women's ice hockey in Canada now has it own championship trophy. The Clarkson Cup, named after former Governor General Adrienne Clarkson, Queen Elizabeth's representative in Canada, was unveiled earlier this month in Toronto.

Last year's NHL lockout may have caused the cancellation of the entire 2004-2005 season, but it proved a boon to amateur leagues and helped raise the profile of women's hockey. Clarkson made an offhand comment that eventually led to the commissioning of the cup. "If there hadn't been an NHL lockout, this whole thing would never have occurred to me," said Clarkson at the unveiling of the cup on July 10.

During the NHL lockout Clarkson suggested that the Stanley Cup, the league's championship trophy since 1926, be awarded to the winning team for women's hockey. The NHL refused, causing Clarkson to fire back that the cup belongs to Canada, not the NHL. The case ended up in court where an out-of-court settlement found that the Stanley Cup does indeed belong to Canada.

The Stanley Cup was actually a gift to Canada from Clarkson's predecessor -- Governor-General Lord Stanley --114 years ago. In 1882, he spent 10 guineas (US $50) on the silver bowl forged in Sheffield, England. It has since been dropped, kicked, lost, and filled with urine and champagne to finally survive as one of sport's most recognizable trophies.

It was the women players, however, who ultimately refused to compete for the Stanley Cup, insisting that it was traditionally a men's cup. As a result, Clarkson decided to commission a new cup for women's hockey. The new silver trophy was built by artist Beth Biggs who worked with three Inuit artists -- Okpik Pitseolak, Therese Ukaliannuk, Pootoogook Qiatsuk -- based in the northern Nunavut Arctic College in Iqaluit.

"It's out of the North that ice comes," Clarkson said. "Get it?"

She presented the cup to Canada's gold winning women's Olympic team on July 10. Clarkson originally intended the cup to be contested between the champions of the National Women's Hockey League and the Western Women's Hockey League, the top two women's leagues in Canada. However, negotiations stalled between the two leagues, causing Clarkson to turn the cup over to Hockey Canada to administer.

Olympic team captain Cassie Campbell said, "This, to me completely legitimizes women's hockey. This is our Stanley Cup -- there's no turning back now."

Since the women's Olympic team won gold last February in Turin, the sport has enjoyed renewed exposure and interest throughout the country.

Canada's two prominent trophies, the Stanley Cup and football's the Grey Cup, are both named after previous Governor Generals of Canada.
The author's Web site is alldaybliss.com
©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter David Kootnikoff

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