Lord Stanley couldn't care less that hockey's Holy Grail may not be hoisted this year. Of course, Edward John Robin Stanley is only 6 years old and lives in England, where soccer is the sport of choice and hockey is barely a blip on the radar screen.
However, the youngster's father, Edward Richard William Stanley, the 19th Earl of Derby and a direct descendant of the man who donated the Stanley Cup to the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association back in 1893, says his son's great-great-great-grandfather likely rolled over in his grave Wednesday when the NHL pulled the plug on the 2004-05 season -- however temporary that may be.
"I think my great-great-grandfather would have been fairly horrified at the thought that something he meant to provide some amateur fun would be brought to halt for a season because of a strike over pay," the 42-year-old, also known as Lord Derby, said yesterday from Knowsley Hall, his home near Liverpool.
"Particularly when some of these guys are paid a level of money that would be fairly amazing in his time," he said.
The elder Stanley -- whose worth was estimated in 2004 at more than $90 million -- explained the title of Lord Stanley is a "courtesy title" given to the Earl of Derby's successor -- usually the eldest son. His great-great-grandfather, Sir Frederick Arthur Stanley, was granted the title while in Canada serving as governor general from 1888 to 1893, when his elder brother died and thrust him into the position of 16th Earl of Derby.
While in Canada, then Lord Stanley developed a love for ice hockey. When he left, he donated the trophy that would become a national treasure.
The current Earl of Derby, a married father of three who gained his title when his uncle died childless, said it would be a shame not to have Lord Stanley's mug up for grabs.
Neither he nor his eldest son, Lord Stanley, share their ancestor's passion for the game. But the Earl of Derby is fully aware of how serious Canadians are about hockey.
"The cancellation of the Stanley Cup is like the thought of the FA Cup (soccer) not happening in the United Kingdom," he said. "So I'm absolutely staggered. I can't see who the winners are in this."