In recent years, much has been made about the President’s Trophy curse. No team has topped the regular season standings and then gone on to lift the Stanley Cup in over a decade, and that may very well continue into this season as well. The team with the best regular season record earns the coveted trophy and, in theory, secures home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs, giving them a huge advantage over their fellow postseason hopefuls.
However, only eight out of the 37 teams to have won the President’s Trophy have gone on to lift the Holy Grail of hockey: the Stanley Cup. The curse strikes teams with regularity, and last season was perhaps the most shocking of all. The Boston Bruins were the dominant force throughout the course of the regular season, finishing a mighty 22 points clear of the Carolina Hurricanes, winning the President’s Trophy in record-breaking fashion. However, they were dumped out of the postseason in the very first round by the wildcard Florida Panthers after an absorbing seven-game series.
So, who are the most recent teams to have topped the charts before going on to win it all? Let’s take a look.
The Chicago Blackhawks were the most recent team to complete the feat, finishing five points clear of Sidney Crosby and his Pittsburgh Penguins to top the regular season standings. Then, they embarked on a postseason journey for the ages, just as they had three years prior. Their roster was stacked with talent in stars such as Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, and they sent the United Center into a frenzy time and again.
The Illinois outfit was an experienced team after romping to glory in 2010, and they flexed their muscles en route to the championship thanks to a formidable defense that dominated their opponents en route to winning 16 of 23 playoff games. They first dispatched the Minnesota Wild before the Detroit Red Wings – more on them later – gave them all they could handle in the second round, with the Hawks ultimately triumphing in seven. They then romped to a 4-1 series victory against their rival Los Angeles Kings and finally knocked off the Bruins in the championship series, winning four games to two.
Detroit Red Wings
As for the Red Wings, they, too, have avoided the curse and are the only team to have done so twice. The Red Wings won the President’s Trophy in back-to-back seasons in 1995 and 1996. In the first of those, they were beaten in the Stanley Cup finals by the New Jersey Devils before falling to the Colorado Avalanche in the conference finals the following year. But six years later, they proved that the third time was indeed the charm.
Led by Hall of Famers Steve Yzerman, Sergei Fedorov, and Brett Hull, the Red Wings topped the charts and finished a whopping 15 points clear of the Boston Bruins, the second most in history at the time. Then, they beat the Vancouver Canucks, St. Louis Blues, and reigning champion Colorado Avalanche – in a seven-game thriller, no less – to set up their spot in the Stanley Cup Final. There, they defeated the Carolina Hurricanes in five to become the third team in four seasons to secure both trophies.
In 2007-08, the Red Wings had a staggering record of 54-21-7 and finished the regular season with 115 points. They carried this momentum into the playoffs and boasted one dominant performance after another to win the Stanley Cup once again.
The Red Wings are currently in the midst of a seven-year postseason drought, the second worst in the entire league behind the Buffalo Sabres (12). The Red Wings are part of a six-team group battling for a wild-card spot. As such, those looking into making hockey bets will see that the Michigan side is a +10000 outsider to become champions for the 12th time this term.
The Colorado Avalanche won the President’s Trophy in the 2000-01 season and were led by future Hall-of-Famers Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy. The Avalanche were stacked with talent and were able to navigate a tough playoff run to win it all, ultimately beating the New Jersey Devils in a seven-game series. The team’s depth was a deciding factor, as they were able to rely on players like Ray Bourque and Milan Hejduk to make big contributions throughout the playoffs.
The Dallas Stars won the President’s Trophy in 1998-99 with a 51-19-12 record and boasted one of the best defenses in the league. Led by coach Ken Hitchcock, the team played an aggressive and defensive game plan and lost only seven games. Stars players like Mike Modano, Brett Hull, and Darryl Sydor were integral parts of the team’s success, and they were able to bring the cup home for the first time in franchise history.