by Ralph Hutchinson, Sports Editor

There is no NHL hockey this season. Negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement have failed, and the owners have locked players out. In 2002-03 the teams in the NHL lost a combined $273 million. They lost $224 million last season.  In the last ten years, the teams have collectively lost over 1.8 billion dollars; with a "B", and four teams have declared bankruptcy.  They include the Pittsburgh Penguins, Ottawa Senators, Buffalo Sabres and Los Angeles Kings. Players claim that the owners want a salary cap, and they refuse to accept it. Owners claim that their luxury tax and revenue sharing plan is not a salary cap. After a while, they will come back to the table, and settle their differences, won't they? This is what all hockey fans are hoping. Their hopes are soon to be dashed. According to a well-connected source at NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman's office, it is over. The NHL will fold. Big league professional hockey is finished.

Now, with no more NHL, there will only be three major league professional sports: baseball, basketball and football. It gets worse. My source tells me that The Stanley Cup has been sold to Howe and Knowlton Silversmiths. "Although this sale will only pay down a small portion of the league's debts, every bit helps. We may even have a bake sale."

I spoke to Stephanie Knowlton-Staines at Howe and Knowlton. She told me that Lord Stanley's Cup is to be melted down, and made into candlesticks.

"It is made of the finest Sterling Silver, but who wants or needs the championship trophy of a defunct sport? The candlesticks we will make with it will be the finest family heirlooms anyone could possess. If there is ever professional ice hockey again on a major level, they can always go to a trophy shop and have a new  prize created. Perhaps a Faux Marble base with a Santo Gold hockey player on top would fill the bill. It probably would not cost much to get a little plate with 'Champs' engraved on it either."

I was aghast to hear this. I even shed tears. She seemed put off and said, "I just don't understand you men and sports. It is just a game. It is not like it matters."

Not like it matters! Sports are a metaphor for life itself. We are in perpetual competition for limited resources in this world, there are winners and losers. There are people who go home happy, and go home unhappy. Sports are a living symbol for all of this. Who would want, as she put it, "the championship trophy of a defunct sport"? A lot of us! It would bring back memories of better times. It is a priceless and indispensable piece of history. We can only hope that The Stanley Cup will be liberated from those soulless beings at Howe and Knowlton Silversmiths before they melt it down.