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The President’s Trophy Curse

1989 | Flames Presidents Trophy

The President’s Trophy is an award granted to the National Hockey League team with the most points at the end of the regular season, or the best team in the league once the season ends.

To most people, winning this trophy would be a great honor, assuredly being the best team in the regular season would lead to a Stanley Cup, but to some, winning it is not favorable.

Many believe that the President’s Trophy winning team is cursed and will end up having a short playoff run. The history and stats back this up so much that it is known amongst the hockey world as “The President’s Trophy Curse”.

Awarding the trophy to the regular season champions started in the 1985-86 season. Since then, of the 37 winners, only eight have gone on to hoist the Stanley Cup. The most recent outlier in the apparent curse was when the Chicago Blackhawks won during the 2012-13 season.

Since the Blackhawks victory, only one team has made it past the second round in the playoffs. This was the New York Rangers in the 2014-15 season, losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Even teams with some of the best seasons of all time have run into playoff troubles after winning the President’s Trophy. For instance, in the 2022-23 season, the Boston Bruins broke the record for most wins in a season with 65 and most points by a team with 135.

Unfortunately, the Bruins ran into the red-hot Florida Panthers in the first round, who barely snuck into the playoffs as the 8 seed in the Eastern Conference.

But using the momentum they gained from going on a run of 18-10-2 in their final 30 games of the season, the Panthers took down the Bruins in only the first round. The Panthers ended up making the Stanley Cup Final, losing to the Vegas Golden Knights four games to one.

Another example is the Detroit Red Wings from the 1995-96 season, they finished with 131 points, this is third all time. With one of the best coaches in NHL history, Scotty Bowman, behind the bench, and Sergei Federov, Steve Yzerman and Paul Coffey leading the way, the Wings flew through the first two rounds of the playoffs.

This was until they ran into the eventual Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche. The young duo of Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg was no match for the Red Wings.

With all this history backing up the claim of the President’s Trophy being a curse, it is apparent why so many fans believe it to be true. Although this may be the case, many also believe the curse is not true and might just be the results of teams going through a rough patch in the playoffs or, in some circumstances, running into a red-hot team.

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