Will the impasse between players and owners mean the Stanley Cup will not be awarded in 2005?
It would not be the first time Lord Stanley's mug was not handed out, albeit under far different circumstances.
In 1919, the NHL champion Montreal Canadiens locked horns with the Seattle Metropolitans, title-holders of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association, with the Stanley Cup to go to the winner.
Unfortunately, an onset of a worldwide Spanish influenza epidemic slammed the left coast, forcing the abandonment of the series before a winner was declared.
The series was tied at the time, but there were much more important things to be concerned about -- namely the health of the players and staff of the teams. The disease claimed one victim on the Habs. Montreal's Joe Hall, one of the league's top defenceman who had played on Cup-winning teams with Quebec in 1912 and 1913, never did leave Seattle, fighting the influenza until finally losing the battle and dying in early April 1919.
So what will happen to the Cup now that the 2004-05 NHL season appears lost? There have been suggestions that hockey's most coveted trophy should be awarded to another league, whether it be pro, junior or amateur.
"You'd have to ask Mr. Stanley about that," New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur said with a chuckle recently. "All I know is that I've had the privilege of winning it three times and I quite enjoy its company."