Presidents' Trophy: Doesn't Necessarily Mean a Stanley Cup

Cody Pugh@Blackhawk_UpContributor IIIApril 1, 2011

First off, I would like to personally extend my congratulations to the Vancouver Canucks and their fans for winning their first ever Presidents' Trophy.

Being from Vancouver, I know how much this franchise has meant to the city.

Second, let me openly declare that I am not a Canucks fan; in fact, I'm well known for not liking them.

So why am I writing this? Well simply put, I think it needs to be said.

The Presidents' Trophy is quite an accomplishment for any team. Going into the playoffs knowing you have the best record and are most likely the best team in the NHL is a confidence booster.

However, it is important to note a very blatantly obvious fact: The Presidents' Trophy is not the Stanley Cup.

Many teams that have had tremendously good seasons in the past, winning the Presidents' Trophy in the process, have failed in the ultimate quest for the ultimate trophy.

In fact, since the Presidents' Trophy was introduced in 1986, only seven teams have won both the Presidents' Trophy and the Stanley Cup in the same season.

These teams are: 1987 Edmonton Oilers, 1989 Calgary Flames, 1994 New York rangers, 1999 Dallas Stars, 2001 Colorado Avalanche, 2002 Detroit Red Wings and the 2008 Detroit Red Wings.

All very good hockey teams—in fact, some of the best of all time.

But not on this list are some of the other greatest hockey teams in recent history, such as the 1986 Edmonton Oilers, 1993 Pittsburgh Penguins and the 2006 Detroit Red Wings.

More recently, other teams that have failed to win both trophies include the 2000 St. Louis Blues, 2007 Buffalo Sabres, 2008 San Jose Sharks and, of course, the 2009 Washington Capitals.

Every one of these teams had very good regular season records and statistics.

Finally, also not on the list of dual winners is arguably the greatest hockey team of all time: The 1996 Detroit Red Wings, who finished the NHL regular season with a 62-13-7 record and a plus-144 goal differential.

If that team, who scored 325 goals while only allowing 181, can get knocked out of the playoffs, any team can—I don't care how good they are.

Now, it's not necessarily plausible to compare modern teams to those that played in the 80's and 90's, which was a completely different era of hockey.

However, it is something important to take note of the fact that even the best of teams aren't sure-things; even the best teams in the league are susceptible to unforeseeable setbacks. 

There are lots of reasons a team might not have postseason success after winning the Presidents' Trophy.

Perhaps the pressure of being the leagues best regular season team is simply too much and it affects their performance.

Perhaps they get too comfortable and complacent and think they can just waltz their way to a Stanley Cup victory—this was largely what happened in 2006, when the Red Wings were eliminated by the Edmonton Oilers in the first round.

Perhaps they have a bad streak going into the playoffs and their confidence is at a low-point—this was the case in 2008, when the Sharks were knocked out by the Ducks first round.

Finally, maybe the team they face just plays better—look at last year's first round upset of the Capitals by the Montreal Canadiens.

The fact of the matter is that in the Stanley Cup playoffs, anything can happen.

Does the Presidents' Trophy have a curse on it? I wouldn't say that, but I do think there are "cause and effect" factors, as TSN's Bob McKenzie put it, some I listed above.

The correlation between Presidents Trophy and Stanley Cup, isn't as strong as you'd think it would be.

The simple fact of the matter is: The regular season is very, very different from the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Now, I don't want to take anything away from the Vancouver Canucks or their fans. They have accomplished so much and are undeniably the favorites to win the Stanley Cup.

Does that mean they will win it for sure?


The Presidents' Trophy doesn't buy them the Stanley Cup or even a seat in the finals. It gives them home-ice advantage for every series.

That's pretty much it.

Now of course, the Presidents' Trophy means much more symbolically for a franchise that has had its fair share of disappointments since its creation in 1970; it is another achievement for a team and a fanbase that has very high hopes.

I encourage fans to bask in the glory that comes with seizing Presidents' Trophy while reminding you that many great teams of the past have been in the same spot and have ended their seasons disappointed.

Celebrate, but not too hard.

Congratulations and good luck in the playoffs!


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