Mar 7, 2014, 6:35 PM EDT
Awarded annually to the top finisher in regular season, the Presidents’ Trophy has always been a weird one in NHL circles. While it’s a great accomplishment and all, it significantly pales in comparison to the Stanley Cup and, therefore, rarely gets spoken of in terms of something teams really want to win.
But the St. Louis Blues are changing that.
“Our goal was to lead the division at the Olympic break and we did that, and now the goal is to try to win the Presidents’ Trophy,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said, per the Post-Dispatch. “What the heck, that’s important to us.”
First handed out in 1985-86, the Presidents’ Trophy has only gone to St. Louis one time — the 1999-2000 team, which set a franchise record for wins (51) and points (114). Head coach Joel Quenneville won the Jack Adams that year, while Chris Pronger won the Hart and Norris Trophies.
This year, the Blues could challenge that ’99-00 team — at least in terms of wins and points (the individual awards seem less likely.) The Blues are on 42 wins and 90 points with 20 games left in the regular season, so they’ll need 10 victories and 25 points to set the records.
Finishing first would guarantee St. Louis home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs — important, as the Blues are 23-5-3 at Scottrade this year — and yield an easier matchup in the opening round. That’s a big deal in the loaded Western Conference, something the Blues know all too well. Last year, St. Louis finished as the No. 4 seed and drew the defending Stanley Cup champion Kings in Round 1, eventually bowing out in six games.
Hitchcock is keenly aware that the highest seeding possible will be big for his team.
That’s why he’s gunning for the Presidents’ Trophy.
“It puts value in what’s left of these (20) games now and we want to take advantage of this,” he explained. “It’s important for our guys.”
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