2004–05 NHL season

The 2004–05 NHL season was the National Hockey League's 88th season of operation. The entire 1,230-game schedule, that was set to begin in October, was officially canceled on February 16, 2005 due to an unresolved lockout that began on September 16, 2004. The loss of the 2004–05 season's games made the NHL the second North American professional sports league to lose an entire postseason of games because of a labor dispute, the first being the 1994–95 MLB strike, which occurred 10 years prior.[1] It was the first time since 1919, when a Spanish flu pandemic canceled the finals, that the Stanley Cup was not awarded.[2] This canceled season was later acknowledged with the words "2004–05 Season Not Played" engraved on the Cup.[3]

2004–05 NHL season
Stanley Cup Season 2004-05.jpg
The Stanley Cup acknowledges the canceled 2004–05 season with the words, "2004–05 Season Not Played"
LeagueNational Hockey League
SportIce hockey
Number of games0
Number of teams30
TV partner(s)CBC, TSN, RDS (Canada)
ESPN,[n1 1] NBC (United States)
Top draft pickAlexander Ovechkin
Picked byWashington Capitals
Stanley Cup
NHL seasons

According to the International Ice Hockey Federation, 388 NHL players were on teams overseas at some point during the season, spread across 19 European leagues.[4] Many of these players had a contract clause to return to the NHL when the league started up again, even if it was during the current season.[5]

Key rule changes which would dominate after the lockout were established as a result of a meeting between the NHL and its top minor league, the American Hockey League. On July 5, 2004, the AHL announced publicly the 2004–05 rule changes, many of which were passed as a result of the NHL's recommendation for experimentation.

Stanley Cup controversyEdit

As a result of the lockout, no Stanley Cup champion was crowned for the first time since the Spanish flu pandemic in 1919. This was controversial among many fans, who questioned whether the NHL had exclusive control over the Cup. A website known as freestanley.com (since closed) was launched, asking fans to write to the Cup trustees and urge them to return to the original pre-NHL Challenge Cup format.[6] Adrienne Clarkson, then Governor General of Canada, alternately proposed that the Cup be presented to the top women's hockey team in lieu of the NHL season, but this idea was so unpopular with NHL fans, players, and officials that the Clarkson Cup was created instead.[citation needed] Meanwhile, a group in Ontario, also known as the "Wednesday Nighters", filed an application with the Ontario Superior Court, claiming that the Cup trustees had overstepped their bounds in signing the 1947 agreement with the NHL, and therefore must award the trophy to any team willing to play for the cup regardless of the lockout.[7]

On February 7, 2006, a settlement was reached in which the trophy could be awarded to non-NHL teams in the event the league does not operate for a season, but the dispute lasted so long that, by the time it was settled, the NHL had resumed operating for the 2005–06 season, and the Stanley Cup went unclaimed for the 2004–05 season.[8]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Lockout over salary cap shuts down NHL". Associated Press. February 16, 2005. Retrieved August 15, 2007.
  2. ^ "NHL cancel remainder of the season". CNN. February 16, 2005. Retrieved August 15, 2007.
  3. ^ "Strike Up The Bands: The Stanley Cup is Stripped of a Ring; Cancelled 2004–05 Season Recognized". Hockey Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on August 20, 2007. Retrieved February 19, 2007.
  4. ^ "Lockout list ends at 388 NHL players in Europe as of February 25". IIHF. February 25, 2005. Archived from the original on August 8, 2007. Retrieved August 15, 2007.
  5. ^ McKeon, Ross (October 13, 2004). "Lots of talking, little listening". San Francisco Chronicle. p. A-16. Retrieved August 15, 2007.
  6. ^ "Lockout Reminds Lowe of Gretzky Deal". TSN. February 16, 2005. Archived from the original on September 29, 2007. Retrieved July 15, 2006.
  7. ^ "Amateurs taking NHL to court to play for Cup". ESPN. April 13, 2005. Retrieved October 13, 2007.
  8. ^ "Court:Non-NHL teams could vie for Cup". TSN. February 7, 2006. Archived from the original on December 16, 2007. Retrieved July 15, 2006.
  1. ^ Before the 2004–05 lockout, the NHL had reached two separate deals with NBC (who would replace ABC as the NHL's American national broadcast television partner) and ESPN. ESPN offered the NHL $60 million for about 40 games (only fifteen of which would be during the regular season), all on ESPN2, with presumably, only some midweek playoff games, the first two games of the Stanley Cup Finals and the All-Star Game airing on ESPN. NBC's deal involved a revenue sharing agreement with the NHL as opposed to a traditional rights fee, and included rights to six regular season windows, seven postseason broadcasts and games 3–7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. ESPN had a two-year deal that they opted out of after the lockout, leaving the NHL without a cable partner.