Thursday, 23 July 2009

Memo From The Prez

Hockey Blog In Canada pushes forward with another trophy today, although this one has less history simply because it isn't named for any one person. The President's Trophy is awarded annually to the best regular season team in the NHL with points accumulated over the course of the 82-game schedule. If there is a tie for the highest point total, the tie-breaker is games won. There is a significant cash bonus that comes along with winning the President's Trophy, so the motivation to be the best team can be very enticing. What's the purpose of the President's Trophy? How did it come to be? Are there any interesting facts that one should know about the trophy?

The trophy was presented to the NHL by the league's Board of Governors at the start of the 1985-86 season. It comes with a $350,000 CDN cash bonus which is normally divided amongst the team and the franchise. Another added bonus for the regular season champions is the guarantee of home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs due to having the season's best record.

Before 1968, the Prince of Wales Trophy was awarded to the regular season champions. The Prince of Wales Trophy, which has been a part of the NHL since 1925, was awarded to the regular season NHL champions from 1938 until 1968 as the NHL was a single division of six teams.

Upon expansion to two divisions in 1968, no trophy was awarded to the regular season champions, but a cash award was still given to the team with the best record. The Prince of Wales Trophy was given to the Eastern Division representative in the Stanley Cup Final instead of the league's regular season champions. Teams normally elected to have banners made to recognize this accomplishment as it was still largely regarded as a major award. However, in 1985, the NHL's Board of Governors added the President's Trophy to the cash award that the best regular season team receives.

There's how the trophy came to be. The first team to receive the President's Trophy in 1986 was the Edmonton Oilers who finished the season atop the NHL standings with 119 points. Here are some interesting facts about the President's Trophy and its winners:

  • In the 23 years it has been awarded, only 13 teams have won the President's Trophy.
  • The Detroit Red Wings are way out in front of all the other NHL teams with six President's Trophy wins. The Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames, New York Rangers, Dallas Stars, and Colorado Avalanche sit in second with two wins each.
  • The Detroit Red Wings hold the record for most points in one season to win the President's Trophy with 131 points. They accomplished this in 1995-96.
  • Not counting the strike-shortened season of 1995, three teams share the lowest point total to win the President's Trophy. The 1986-87 Edmonton Oilers, the 1987-88 Calgary Flames, and the 1991-92 New York Rangers all recorded 105 points to win the President's Trophy in their respective years.
  • The strike-shortened season saw the Detroit Red Wings win the President's Trophy for the first time with 70 points on the reduced schedule.
  • While Montreal has finished first overall 21 times in the NHL, they have not won the President's Trophy to date.
  • Of the 23 times the President's Trophy has been awarded, only seven of those teams have gone on to win the Stanley Cup. They include the Edmonton Oilers ('86-87), the Calgary Flames ('88-89), the New York Rangers ('93-94), the Dallas Stars ('98-99), the Colorado Avalanche (2000-01) and the Detroit Red Wings ('01-02 and '07-08).
  • Of those winners above, none of them won the Stanley Cup after winning their first President's Trophy. With the exception of Detroit, all of them won the Stanley Cup after winning their second President's Trophy. Detroit won the Stanley Cup after their third and sixth President's Trophy wins. Perhaps experience speaks louder than regular season success?
  • Only twice have President's Trophy winners advanced to the Stanley Cup Final after winning their first President's Trophy. Both the 1989-90 Boston Bruins and the 1994-95 Detroit Red Wings lost in their respective Stanley Cup Final series.
  • On four occasions, the President's Trophy winners have been knocked out of the NHL Playoffs in the first round. The 1990-91 Chicago Blackhawks were the first team, losing to the Minnesota North Stars. The 1999-2000 St. Louis Blues bowed out to the San Jose Sharks. The 2005-06 Detroit Red Wings went home after losing to the Edmonton Oilers. And the 2008-09 San Jose Sharks lost to the Anaheim Ducks.
  • Since the NHL moved to the six-division alignment in 1998, the Atlantic and Southeast Divisions have not had a President's Trophy winner. The Central Division has had five winners, the Pacific and Northeast Divisions had two winners each, and the Northwest Division has won once.
  • If the divisions were aligned as they are now back through the NHL's history, the Southeast Division would still produce no President's Trophy winners.
So there's a little history and some interesting facts about the President's Trophy and its winners. I think the fact that no NHL team has won the Stanley Cup after winning their first President's Trophy is an amazing stat. After all the success those teams have in the regular season, it's hard to believe it doesn't carry over into the playoffs. Yet all of the teams who have won the President's Trophy multiple times have gone on to win the Stanley Cup. Will the trend continue?

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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