NHL Presidents' Trophy Not a Curse

The award for top-scoring team is not a predictor of playoff failure

Columbus Blue Jackets v Nashville Predators
Frederick Breedon / Getty Images

When it comes to NHL team awards, few seem to care about the Presidents' Trophy, which has been handed out annually since 1985–86 to the team that finishes the regular season with the most points in the standings. In the eyes of some fans, the award has little meaning in the league unless the team goes on to win the Stanley Cup, the trophy presented the winner of pro hockey's annual championship tournament.

There is a belief that the President's Trophy carries with it a curse — that the team that wins this prize is destined not to win the Stanley Cup. That mistaken notion is a myth.

Background of the Myth

Only eight of the Presidents' Trophy winning teams have actually gone on to win the Stanley Cup, but three other teams have reached the finals but failed to win the title. Still, the statistics show that about one-third of teams that have won the trophy have gone on to at least compete in the NHL's championship series.

Indeed, Presidents' Trophy-winning teams reach the Stanley Cup Final — and win it — more than any other seed in the playoffs.

The Statistics

More than half of NHL teams are thrown into the playoff tournament — which, essentially, starts a second season with teams participating in four best-of-seven series. The randomness of a best-of-seven series can sometimes lead to unexpected results.

 Top seeds are upset from time to time, but more often than not the top team in the regular season ends up at least reaching the NHL's final four, as these figures illustrate:

  • Stanley Cup Winners: 8
  • Lost Stanley Cup Final: 4
  • Lost Conference Finals: 5
  • Lost Second Round: 7
  • Lost First Round: 6

Year-By-Year Look

To get a clearer view of the myth of the President's Trophy "curse" — or lack thereof — it's helpful to view an annual listing trophy winners together with their eventual results in the playoffs.

Information from recent years was compiled by Wikipedia.

YearPresidents' Trophy WinnerPlayoff Result
2015-16Washinton CapitalsLost Second Round
2014-15New York RangersLost Conference Finals
2013-14Boston BruinsLost Second Round
2012-13Chicago BlackhawksWon Stanley Cup
2011-12 Vancouver CanucksLost First Round
2010-11Vancouver CanucksLost Stanley Cup Final
2009-10Washington CapitalsLost First Round
2008-09San Jose SharksLost First Round
2007-08Detroit Red WingsWon Stanley Cup
2006-07Buffalo SabresLost Conference Final
2005-06Detroit Red WingsLost First Round
2003-04Detroit Red WingsLost Second Round
2002-03Ottawa SenatorsLost Conference Final
2001-02Detroit Red WingsWon Stanley Cup
2000-01Colorado AvalancheWon Stanley Cup
1999-00St. Louis BluesLost First Round
1998-99Dallas StarsWon Stanley Cup
1997-98Dallas StarsLost Stanley Cup Final
1996-97Colorado AvalancheLost Conference Final
1995-96Detroit Red WingsLost Conference Final
1994-95Detroit Red WingsLost Stanley Cup Final
1993-94New York RangersWon Stanley Cup
1992-93Pittsburgh PenguinsLost Second round
1991-92New York RangersLost Second Round
1990-91Chicago BlackhawksLost First Round
1989-90Boston BruinsLost Stanley Cup Final
1988-89Calgary FlamesWon Stanley Cup
1987-88Calgary FlamesLost Second Round
1986-87Edmonton OilersWon Stanley Cup
1985-86Edmonton OilersLost Second Round