NHL Conference Finals

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The National Hockey League (NHL) Conference Finals are the Eastern Conference and Western Conference championship series of the NHL. The Conference Finals are best-of-seven series. The two series are played in late May (early June, due to a lockout; in 1995 and most recently in 2013) each year after the first and second rounds of the playoffs and before the Stanley Cup Final. The winners of the Eastern and Western Conference Finals receive the Prince of Wales Trophy and Clarence S. Campbell Bowl respectively. The two Conference champions go on to the Stanley Cup Final.

History[edit]

For more details on this topic, see Stanley Cup playoffs.

Before the 1967–68 season, the NHL was made up only of a single division. From the 1967–68 season through the 1973–74 season, the NHL was made up of two divisions (as opposed to conferences), the East Division and the West Division.

Following the 1973–74 season, the NHL again realigned. The East and West Divisions were renamed the Prince of Wales and Clarence Campbell Conferences, respectively. At the time, the new conferences and divisions had little to do with North American geography and geographical references were removed.

Beginning in the 1981–82 season, the conferences and the playoffs were realigned. The NHL was hoping to reduce travel costs in the face of a struggling economy and high energy prices. The regular season and playoffs were also altered to emphasize divisional match-ups.

Beginning in the 1993–94 season, the names of conferences and divisions were changed to reflect their geographic locations. At the instigation of then-new NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, the NHL made the change to help non-hockey fans better understand the game, as the National Basketball Association uses geographic-based names for their conferences and divisions, and the National Football League, and Major League Baseball use geographic-based names for their divisions. Therefore, the Campbell Conference became the Western Conference and the Wales Conference became the Eastern Conference. The respective winners of the Eastern and Western Conference Finals receive the Prince of Wales Trophy and Clarence S. Campbell Bowl.

The Hartford Whalers never advanced to a Conference Final, however after they relocated to become the Carolina Hurricanes, they did so three times (2002 as the eventual Cup Finalists, 2006 as the eventual Cup Champions, and 2009). The original Winnipeg Jets never appeared in a Conference Final, and after moving to become the Phoenix Coyotes the franchise did not even win a playoff series until the 2012 NHL Playoffs when they advanced to the Conference Finals.

Three currently active franchises (Nashville Predators, Winnipeg Jets (formerly the Atlanta Thrashers), and Columbus Blue Jackets) have never appeared in a Conference Final.

Conference trophy traditions[edit]

Another tradition (or rather superstition) that is prevalent among today's NHL players is that no player should touch the Cup itself until his team has rightfully won the Cup.[1] Adding to this superstition is some players' choice to neither touch nor hoist the conference trophies (Clarence S. Campbell Bowl and Prince of Wales Trophy) when these series have been won; the players feel that the Stanley Cup is the true championship trophy, and only it should be hoisted.[2]

However, in 1994, Stephane Matteau, then of the New York Rangers, admitted that he tapped the Wales Trophy with his stick's blade before the overtime period in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.[3] Matteau subsequently scored the game-winning goal in double overtime against the New Jersey Devils. Following the game, Mark Messier, the captain of the Rangers, picked up and raised the Wales Trophy after it was awarded to the team.[4] After winning the Western Conference, Vancouver Canucks captain Trevor Linden lifted the Campbell trophy.[5] The Rangers prevailed over the Canucks in a seven game series to win the Cup.

Scott Stevens and Martin Brodeur hoisted the conference trophy as well in 2000, after the New Jersey Devils came back from a 3-1 series deficit to defeat the Philadelphia Flyers in seven games; the Devils would go on to defeat the Dallas Stars (who touched but did not lift their conference trophy)[6] in the Stanley Cup Finals.

In 2002 the Carolina Hurricanes hoisted the Prince of Wales Trophy after they won their conference title;[7] the Hurricanes lost their Finals series with the Detroit Red Wings four games to one. Steve Yzerman, captain of the Detroit Red Wings during their 1997, 1998, and 2002 Stanley Cup victories, picked up the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl each time, to the delight of the home fans in Joe Louis Arena.[8]

The superstition held true in 2004, as Jarome Iginla of the Calgary Flames grabbed the Campbell Bowl, but Dave Andreychuk of the Tampa Bay Lightning refused to touch the Prince of Wales Trophy; the Lightning won the Stanley Cup in seven games. In 2007, Daniel Alfredsson and Wade Redden of the Ottawa Senators touched and picked up the Prince of Wales Trophy, respectively, but Anaheim Ducks captain Scott Niedermayer never came close to the Campbell Bowl; the Ducks won the Stanley Cup in five games. Steve Yzerman, captain of the Detroit Red Wings during their 1997, 1998, and 2002 Stanley Cup victories, picked up the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl each time, though his successor Nicklas Lidstrom did not touch it en route to a 2008 Stanley Cup victory. Scott Stevens hoisted the Prince of Wales Trophy during the Devils' other two Stanley Cup-winning seasons in 1995 and 2003. In 2009, Sidney Crosby and other members of the Pittsburgh Penguins carried and posed with the Prince of Wales Trophy before going on to win the Stanley Cup. At the close of the 2010 Eastern Conference final, Philadelphia Flyers captain Mike Richards picked up the Wales Trophy. Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks captain, did not touch the Campbell Bowl, and the Blackhawks went on to defeat the Flyers in 6 games for the 2010 Stanley Cup.

In 2012, Los Angeles Kings captain Dustin Brown and the rest of the team refused to touch the Campbell Bowl after winning the conference finals against Phoenix Coyotes. The team did not even take the Campbell Bowl Trophy on the plane back to Los Angeles. Instead Tim Leiweke, President and CEO of Anschutz Entertainment Group (the parent of the LA Kings), drove the trophy in his car trunk from Phoenix to Los Angeles and showed it to the 10 000+ fans that waited at LAX Airport to show their support to their Stanley Cup finalists, who went on to win the Stanley Cup. This was in marked contrast to 1993, when the Kings had defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs in seven games to reach their first Final, where Wayne Gretzky and the team celebrated with the Campbell Bowl, and during the Finals trophy was unveiled before the start of Game Three (the Kings lost the series in five games, including three overtime losses).[2]

Prince of Wales Conference/Eastern Conference[edit]

Prince of Wales Conference (1982–1993)[edit]

Year Champion Runner-Up Games Eventual Cup Winner
1982 New York Islanders Quebec Nordiques 4
1983 New York Islanders Boston Bruins 6
1984 New York Islanders Montreal Canadiens 6
1985 Philadelphia Flyers Quebec Nordiques 6
1986 Montreal Canadiens New York Rangers 5
1987 Philadelphia Flyers Montreal Canadiens 6
1988 Boston Bruins New Jersey Devils 7
1989 Montreal Canadiens Philadelphia Flyers 6
1990 Boston Bruins Washington Capitals 4
1991 Pittsburgh Penguins Boston Bruins 6
1992 Pittsburgh Penguins Boston Bruins 4
1993 Montreal Canadiens New York Islanders 5

Eastern Conference (Since 1994)[edit]

Year Champion Runner-Up Games Eventual Cup Winner
1994 New York Rangers New Jersey Devils 7
1995 New Jersey Devils Philadelphia Flyers 6
1996 Florida Panthers Pittsburgh Penguins 7
1997 Philadelphia Flyers New York Rangers 5
1998 Washington Capitals Buffalo Sabres 6
1999 Buffalo Sabres Toronto Maple Leafs 5
2000 New Jersey Devils Philadelphia Flyers 7
2001 New Jersey Devils Pittsburgh Penguins 5
2002 Carolina Hurricanes Toronto Maple Leafs 6
2003 New Jersey Devils Ottawa Senators 7
2004 Tampa Bay Lightning Philadelphia Flyers 7
No Conference Finals played due to the lockout.
2006 Carolina Hurricanes Buffalo Sabres 7
2007 Ottawa Senators Buffalo Sabres 5
2008 Pittsburgh Penguins Philadelphia Flyers 5
2009 Pittsburgh Penguins Carolina Hurricanes 4
2010 Philadelphia Flyers Montreal Canadiens 5
2011 Boston Bruins Tampa Bay Lightning 7
2012 New Jersey Devils New York Rangers 6
2013 Boston Bruins Pittsburgh Penguins 4
2014 New York Rangers Montreal Canadiens 6

Clarence Campbell Conference/Western Conference[edit]

Clarence Campbell Conference (1982–1993)[edit]

Year Champion Runner-Up Games Eventual Cup Winner
1982 Vancouver Canucks Chicago Black Hawks 5
1983 Edmonton Oilers Chicago Black Hawks 4
1984 Edmonton Oilers Minnesota North Stars 4
1985 Edmonton Oilers Chicago Black Hawks 6
1986 Calgary Flames St. Louis Blues 7
1987 Edmonton Oilers Detroit Red Wings 5
1988 Edmonton Oilers Detroit Red Wings 5
1989 Calgary Flames Chicago Blackhawks 5
1990 Edmonton Oilers Chicago Blackhawks 6
1991 Minnesota North Stars Edmonton Oilers 5
1992 Chicago Blackhawks Edmonton Oilers 4
1993 Los Angeles Kings Toronto Maple Leafs 7

Western Conference (Since 1994)[edit]

Year Champion Runner-Up Games Eventual Cup Winner
1994 Vancouver Canucks Toronto Maple Leafs 5
1995 Detroit Red Wings Chicago Blackhawks 5
1996 Colorado Avalanche Detroit Red Wings 6
1997 Detroit Red Wings Colorado Avalanche 6
1998 Detroit Red Wings Dallas Stars 6
1999 Dallas Stars Colorado Avalanche 7
2000 Dallas Stars Colorado Avalanche 7
2001 Colorado Avalanche St. Louis Blues 5
2002 Detroit Red Wings Colorado Avalanche 7
2003 Mighty Ducks of Anaheim Minnesota Wild 4
2004 Calgary Flames San Jose Sharks 6
No Conference Finals played due to the lockout.
2006 Edmonton Oilers Mighty Ducks of Anaheim 5
2007 Anaheim Ducks Detroit Red Wings 6
2008 Detroit Red Wings Dallas Stars 6
2009 Detroit Red Wings Chicago Blackhawks 5
2010 Chicago Blackhawks San Jose Sharks 4
2011 Vancouver Canucks San Jose Sharks 5
2012 Los Angeles Kings Phoenix Coyotes 5
2013 Chicago Blackhawks Los Angeles Kings 5
2014 Los Angeles Kings Chicago Blackhawks 7

Team totals[edit]

Legend: CF = Conference Final; SCF = Stanley Cup Final; Bolded year denotes win

Team CF appearances CF wins % Cup wins % Last CF Consecutive CF Consecutive SCF
appearances
Chicago Blackhawks 11 3 33.3% 2 66.7% 2014 2 -
Detroit Red Wings 10 6 60% 4 66.7% 2009 4 2
Edmonton Oilers 9 7 77.8% 5 71.4% 2006 3 3
Philadelphia Flyers 9 4 44.4% 2 50% 2010 - -
Colorado Avalanche 8 2 25% 2 100% 2002 4 -
New Jersey Devils 7 5 71.4% 3 75% 2012 2 2
Boston Bruins 7 4 63.6% 1 25% 2013 3 -
Pittsburgh Penguins 7 4 63.6% 3 75% 2013 2 2
Montreal Canadiens 7 3 50% 2 66.7% 2014 2 -
Dallas Stars 6 3 50% 1 33.3% 2008 3 2
Los Angeles Kings 4 3 75% 2 66.7% 2014 3 -
New York Islanders 4 3 75% 2 66.7% 1993 3 3
New York Rangers 4 2 50% 1 100% 2014 - -
Buffalo Sabres 4 1 25% 0 0% 2007 2 -
Toronto Maple Leafs 4 0 0% 0 0% 2002 2 -
Calgary Flames 3 3 100% 1 33.3% 2004 - -
Anaheim Ducks 3 2 66.7% 1 50% 2007 2 -
Carolina Hurricanes 3 2 66.7% 1 50% 2009 - -
Vancouver Canucks 3 3 100% 0 0% 2011 - -
San Jose Sharks 3 0 0% 0 0% 2011 2 -
Ottawa Senators 2 1 50% 0 0% 2007 - -
Tampa Bay Lightning 2 1 50% 1 100% 2011 - -
Washington Capitals 2 1 50% 0 0% 1998 - -
St. Louis Blues 2 0 0% 0 0% 2001 - -
Florida Panthers 1 1 100% 0 0% 1996 - -
Minnesota Wild 1 0 0% 0 0% 2003 - -
Phoenix Coyotes 1 0 0% 0 0% 2012 - -

Note: The Colorado Avalanche totals include two Conference Finals appearances as the Quebec Nordiques (both losses), and the Dallas Stars totals include two Conference Finals appearances as the Minnesota North Stars (one win; subsequent Stanley Cup Final loss).

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Stanley Cup Journals:13". Hockey Hall of Fame. 2003-07-07. Retrieved 2006-07-25. 
  2. ^ Coffey, Phil (2006-06-02). "Ice Age: Having another trophy in mind". Retrieved 2006-07-25. [dead link]
  3. ^ "Stephane Matteau". Retrieved 2007-07-05. 
  4. ^ Cerny, Jim (2009-05-27). "Stanley Cup Playoffs Flashback: May 27, 1994". New York Rangers. Retrieved 2010-04-13. 
  5. ^ "The Canucks Are Going To the Finals – History Will Be MADE". Head To The Net. Retrieved 21 July 2011. 
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ "Blog with picture of Hurricanes lifting the Prince of Wales Cup". 
  8. ^ [bleacherreport.com/articles/701017-2011-nhl-playoffs-the-myth-of-the-cursed-stanley-cup-conference-final-trophies]

External links[edit]