Presidents’ Trophy a big accomplishment but hardly a reward
By Josh Martin, Sports Editor
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he Vancouver Canucks are on a six-game win streak, currently first in the Western Conference, and tied for first in the NHL with the New York Rangers—with a 49–21–9 record and 107 points in 79 games. They are one win away from 50 on the season and, with the last week of the regular season underway, the Canucks have the chance to ease their way into the post-season and solidify the number one spot in the league, becoming the Presidents’ Trophy winners (as the team that finishes the regular season with the most points in the league) for the second consecutive year.
With only three games remaining against the likes of the Calgary Flames, the Anaheim Ducks, and the Edmonton Oilers—all non-playoff teams sitting at 11, 12 and 14 place in the Western Conference—the President’s Trophy doesn’t look like too difficult a task to grasp.
But does finishing as the number one team in the regular season and capturing that well-respected trophy really mean anything? Especially with the top teams in the league, like the Canucks, the Blues, and the Rangers all hovering around the same point total in both respective conferences.
[quote style=”boxed”]…in the 25 times the trophy has been awarded only seven teams were successful in taking home the Holy Grail at the end of the post-season. That’s a 28 per cent success rate.[/quote]
In the past eight seasons, only one team that captured the Presidents’ Trophy in the regular season went on to win the Stanley Cup—the Detroit Red Wings in the 2007–08 season. And, dating back to when the trophy was introduced in 1985–86 season, in the 25 times the trophy has been awarded only seven teams were successful in taking home the Holy Grail at the end of the post-season. That’s a 28 per cent success rate. A percentage that one would think would be a lot higher, since, after all those teams were the best in the league during the gruelling 82 game regular season.
Key point: regular season.
The playoffs are in a whole different ball park: more seating, more publicity, expensive ticket prices (not that they weren’t already expensive), better teams, better players, higher stakes, higher expectations, towel waving, beard growing, beer drinking, and a shit load of pressure. What it comes down to for these teams is whether or not they can live up to all of these obstacles that the playoffs have to offer; the mentality has to shift, the focus has to strengthen and the beards have to be full or dirty as hell.
So, does the Presidents’ Trophy really mean anything?
Not really. Last year when the Canucks clinched the award, there was no celebration, no champagne drinking, and no cigar smoking. It wasn’t the title and cup they were after. They had something else in their sights. As does every other team in the NHL.
That title of the number one team in the league is just built up expectations with unbelievable pressure to succeed that ultimately worked against the Canucks and led to the disastrous riot that broke out shortly after game seven of the Stanley Cup Finals.
The trophy was a mere reward to a successful regular season in which the Canucks broke a franchise record of 54 wins and 117 points. But at the end of the day it’s all about the playoffs and the Stanley Cup. The team that comes out on top at the end of the post-season will overshadow the one who came out on top of the regular season.