The Clarence S. Campbell Bowl was donated by the NHL's clubs in recognition of the contributions and services of its namesake, the League President at the start of the Modern Era expansion. Throughout its history it has been a parallel to the Prince of Wales Trophy, using the same criteria in the opposite competitive grouping. From its inception in the 1967–68 season through to 1973–74 it was awarded to the first-place finisher in the West Division during the regular season. With NHL realignment in 1974–75, it was given to the team with the best regular-season record in the Campbell Conference (the successor to the West Division) through the 1980–81 season. Beginning with the 1981–82 season, it switched to the Campbell Conference playoff champions, and since the 1993–94 season, when the Campbell Conference became the Western Conference, has gone to the Western Conference playoff champions.
A traditional superstition that is prevalent among many of today's NHL players is that no player should either touch or hoist the Campbell (Western Conference champion) or Prince of Wales (Eastern Conference champion) Trophies after they have won the conference playoffs; these players feel that the Stanley Cup is the true championship trophy and thus it should be the only trophy that they should be hoisting. Instead of touching the conference trophy, the captain of the winning team merely poses (usually looking solemn) with the trophy, and sometimes, the entire team poses as well. However, there have been other teams who have ignored the superstition and hoisted the conference trophies, and then went on to win the Cup anyway.