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Vancouver Canucks clinch Presidents’ Trophy; Should fans celebrate or cringe?

Apr 1, 2011, 12:56 AM EDT

Christian Ehroff Maxim Lapierre AP

The Vancouver Canucks continue to put together the greatest regular season in their 40-year history, as the team clinched the Presidents’ Trophy thanks to a 3-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings and a regulation loss by the Philadelphia Flyers. (In case you’re unaware, the Presidents’ Trophy is an award handed out to the NHL team with the best record each season.)

It would be silly to fault a team for piling up win after impressive win, but the question must be asked: could earning home ice advantage throughout the NHL playoffs actually be a crippling burden?

On face value, the answer is “obviously not,” but Presidents’ Trophy winners have faced a checkered history since the award was officially introduced during the 1985-86 season. Overall, seven out of the 24 winners went on to win a Stanley Cup too.* The 2007-08 Detroit Red Wings were the most recent Presidents’ Trophy winner to claim the Cup, but the last two winners suffered premature eliminations.

Both the 2008-09 San Jose Sharks and 09-10 Washington Capitals didn’t just fail to win a Cup, they failed to win a single playoff round. In both cases, the teams ran into hot goalies, as the Sharks fell to the Jonas Hiller-fueled Anaheim Ducks while the Capitals lost to Jaroslav Halak and the Montreal Canadiens.

If the playoffs began today, the Canucks would host the Chicago Blackhawks, a team that is a noted thorn in their sides. Let’s be honest, though; if the Canucks lose, chances are it will be because of Jonathan Toews and Chicago’s other talented players rather than the imaginary albatross that is the Presidents’ Trophy. After all, Chicago is the team that ousted the Canucks from the playoffs the last two years.

Of course, it’s no guarantee that it will be Vancouver-Chicago anyway, but there’s no doubt that the Canucks will play against the eighth seed in the West. If you’ve been following that conference at all this season, you probably know that there won’t likely be an easy out in any round of the West playoffs.

Vancouver faces some troubling injuries, a few skeletons in their playoff closets and the pressure of bringing a first-ever Cup to hockey-crazed Canadian market. Maybe going in as the on-paper favorite will make things that much worse, but don’t blame the Presidents’ Trophy if the Canucks fall short.

Even if such an occurrence would add yet another chapter to “The Legend of the Presidents’ Trophy Albatross.”

* – That near 30-percent success rate is actually pretty good when you consider the fact that 16 teams make the playoffs, if you ask me.

  1. derpdederpdederp - Apr 1, 2011 at 1:17 AM

    every time i think theyre just too good to choke this year, theres no way they can this time i just remind myself that this is the canucks team and its almost playoff time, theyll find a way to screw things up

    oh and what is the need for “In case you’re unaware, the Presidents’ Trophy is an award handed out to the NHL team with the best record each season”? i thought this was a hockey blog. maybe you should explain what icing means next

    • polegojim - Apr 1, 2011 at 10:05 AM

      It was intended to educate less experienced readers and first timers.

      It is a general public domain.

  2. emperor83 - Apr 1, 2011 at 3:01 AM

    Presidents’ Trophy means absolutely nothing. In the 24 years the trophy has been handed out, only 8 have gone on to win the Cup. Here’s a list of those who have NOT:

    1985-86 Edmonton Oilers
    1987-88 Calgary Flames
    1989-90 Boston Bruins
    1990-91 Chicago Blackhawks
    1991-92 New York Rangers
    1992-93 Pittsburgh Penguins
    1994-95 Detroit Red Wings
    1995-96 Detroit Red Wings
    1996-97 Colorado Avalanche
    1997-98 Dallas Stars
    1999-00 St. Louis Blues
    2002-03 Ottawa Senators
    2003-04 Detroit Red Wings
    2005-06 Detroit Red Wings
    2006-07 Buffalo Sabres
    2008-09 San Jose Sharks
    2009-10 Washington Capitals

    Am I saying “The ‘Nucks can’t do it”? No. I’m just saying it’s less of a guarantee than it sounds. They COULD do it… or an 8th seeder can do it or anyone in between…

  3. galuple - Apr 1, 2011 at 3:26 AM

    Remains to be seen if this team is more like the Wings of 2001-2002 who played in a tough division and won it all based on being the best, or Washington last year which played in a terrible division with a bunch of doormats and benefited from inter-divisional play against a bunch of weak teams

  4. polegojim - Apr 1, 2011 at 10:02 AM

    Very cool and well earned, but it’s a whole new game when playoffs begin.

    The lower seeds come out gunning to knock off #1 and prove they belong.

    If they start out against the Blackhawks, that could be ugly.

  5. tommytd - Apr 1, 2011 at 10:35 PM

    “Bobby Lou” still has to show his NHL peers he’s capable of a good series against the Blackhawks…I haven’t seen it yet and I think the Hawks are in his head. Bombard him early and the Hawks could be off to the races again, the President’s Trophy notwithstanding!

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