With an impressive 3-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night, the Canucks clinched first place in the entire National Hockey League. In case you’re counting at home, that’s the first time in 40 years that we can say the Vancouver Canucks are President’s Trophy winners. It’s a nice feather in their cap, and nice to have won it for the first time. Enjoy it Canucks fans… for now.
What does the President’s Trophy really mean? Well, of course it means you’ve had a tremendous regular season, especially when you clinch it in the month of March. Even more impressive? They’ve clinched the President’s Trophy before any other team in the Western Conference has clinched a playoff spot!
Ok, but what does it REALLY mean? In short, not much. The President’s Trophy ensures home ice advantage, but that doesn’t count for very much come playoff time. But it’s something. It also ensures the “easiest” road through the playoffs, which won’t be easy of course, especially when you look at the Chicago Blackhawks laying in the eighth spot in the conference at the moment. Not exactly a cake walk.
A lot of people point to the President’s Trophy as some sort of jinx to winning the Stanley Cup, but I don’t put a lot of weight to that theory. Sure, the President’s Trophy winners have lost in the first round a few times, but they’ve won the Cup a lot too.
Here’s a look at how the President’s Trophy winners have fared in the last 10 years:
2010: Washington Capitals (lost in first round)
2009: San Jose Sharks (lost in first round)
2008: Detroit Red Wings (won Stanley Cup)
2007: Buffalo Sabres (lost in conference finals)
2006: Detroit Red Wings (lost in first round)
2004: Detroit Red Wings (lost in first round)
2003: Ottawa Senators (lost in conference finals)
2002: Detroit Red Wings (won Stanley Cup)
2001: Colorado Avalanche (won Stanley Cup)
So by no means has the President’s Trophy guaranteed a Stanley Cup, but it certainly hasn’t jinxed it either. Perhaps more relevant than the President’s Trophy is the fact that the Canucks will finish as a high seed in the conference. In the last ten years, the Stanley Cup has been won by a #1 or #2 seed in the conference every season but one (the 2009 Pittsburgh Penguins were the #4 seed). Since the NHL changed the playoff format to conference seeding in 1994, this is the first time the Vancouver Canucks have been the top seed. In fact, the Canucks have never been ranked higher than third.
So we can walk proudly, Canucks fans. Hold your head up high and maybe even smile. Just don’t plan any parade routes yet, there’s lots of work to be done.