Presidents’ Trophy Doesn’t Always Translate Into Stanley Cup

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Winning the Presidents’ Trophy is one of the objectives every NHL team puts on the chalkboard at the start of the season. Just behind lifting the Stanley Cup in order of importance, the Presidents’ Trophy is the pinnacle of what a good team should be over the course of the regular season.

Awarded to the top team with the most points in the league at the end of 82 regular season games, the Presidents’ Trophy doesn’t always translate into success in the post-season, however. Navigating the tricky, quick turnaround of the playoffs is easier said than done and only a select few have been able to capture both in the same season.

The Washington Capitals won their second straight Presidents’ Trophy in 2017, but the team doesn’t have recent history on its side. Washington accumulated the most points in 2015-16 as well but bowed out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round in just six games last season.

Even home ice advantage throughout the playoffs wasn’t enough to help the Capitals to its first Stanley Cup.

A total of 38 teams have won both the Presidents’ Trophy and the Stanley Cup in the same season, only eight of whom have completed the feat in what is considered the NHL’s modern era beginning in 1984-85: The Edmonton Oilers (1986-87), Calgary Flames (1988-89), New York Rangers (1993-94), Dallas Stars (1998-99), Colorado Avalanche (2000-01), Detroit Red Wings (2001-02, 2007-08) and Chicago Blackhawks (2012-13).

From 1926 to 1984, the Presidents’ Trophy and Stanley Cup winners were regularly one and the same, but since the 2004-05 lockout, only two teams have done the double of winning the Presidents’ Trophy and the Stanley Cup — the Chicago Blackhawks and the Detroit Red Wings.

Here’s a look back at each memorable campaign from the two most recent teams to hoist both coveted pieces of hardware in the same season:

Detroit Red Wings (2007-08)

Detroit Red Wings Captain Nicklas Lidstrom and U.S. President George W. Bush pose for photographers with other team members as Bush hosts the hockey team at the White House in Washington, DC. The Red Wings were the 2007 NHL Stanley Cup champion. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Detroit topped the NHL’s standings board with 115 points, seven more than next best team, the San Jose Sharks in 2007-08.

Prior to that season’s Presidents’ Trophy win, the Red Wings had finished with the most points in three of the previous five seasons.

One of the most successful runs in the NHL’s modern era, the Red Wings, which had qualified for the postseason each of the last 25 years dating to 1989-90 before being eliminated from contention last month, have captured the most Presidents’ Trophies at six.

In 2007-08, Detroit was led up front by Pavel Datsyuk who paced the team in points (97) during the season with 31 goals and 66 assists, six seasons after seizing its 10th Stanley Cup title in 2001-02. Henrik Zetterberg was the team’s top goal scorer (43) in 2007-08 as the Red Wings not only stormed out of the NHL Playoffs gate, but through them as well en route to its 11th Stanley Cup in franchise history.

Detroit had little trouble in the postseason as they beat the Nashville Predators four-games-to-two in the first round before sweeping the Colorado Avalanche in four straight in its second playoff series. In the third round, Detroit pushed the Dallas Stars aside in six games before dominating Pittsburgh in six to win the Stanley Cup.

Chicago Blackhawks (2012-13)

U.S. President Barack Obama poses for photographs with the 2013 National Hockey League champion Chicago Blackhawks including forward Jonathan Toews, forward Patrick Kane and forward Patrick Sharp at the White House in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

​The 2012-13 season was a shortened year thanks to the lockout that prevented the season from starting until January.

Chicago’s run to the Presidents’ Trophy can directly be attributed to that standoff. Regardless, the team navigated 48 games from mid-January through the beginning of April to claim the most points in the league.

Patrick Kane was practically unstoppable for Chicago during the season as he scored 23 goals and tallied 32 assists for 55 points.

After dismantling the Minnesota Wild in the first round, Chicago was pushed to the brink by Detroit in round two. After the Blackhawks won Game 1, the Red Wings won three straight putting Chicago on the verge of elimination but the Blackhawks stormed back, however, winning three straight, including the Game 7 decider at home in overtime thanks to Brent Seabrook’s wrist shot past Jimmy Howard 3:35 into sudden-death.

After surviving its second-round scare, neither the Los Angeles Kings nor the Boston Bruins in the subsequent rounds pushed Chicago quite as hard as the Blackhawks dispatched the Bruins four-games-to-two en route to its sixth Stanley Cup in franchise history.

Main Image: National Hockey League Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly presents the Presidents’ Trophy to Ryan McDonagh #27 of the New York Rangers prior to the game against the Ottawa Senators at Madison Square Garden on April 9, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Written by Drew Farmer, Special to the Hockey Clan

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