|Awarded for||National Hockey League team with the most points (best record) in the regular season|
|First award||1985–86 NHL season|
|First winner||Edmonton Oilers|
|Most wins||Detroit Red Wings (6)|
|Most recent||Colorado Avalanche (3)|
The Presidents' Trophy (French: Trophée des présidents) is an award presented by the National Hockey League (NHL) to the team that finishes with the most points (i.e. best record) during the NHL regular season. If two teams are tied for the most points, then the Trophy goes to the team with the most regulation wins (RW). The Presidents' Trophy has been awarded 33 times to 17 different teams since its inception during the 1985–86 NHL season.
As the team with the best regular season record, the Presidents' Trophy winner is normally guaranteed home-ice advantage throughout the entire Stanley Cup playoffs.[nb 1] However, it does not guarantee playoff success, as the winner of the Presidents' Trophy has won the Stanley Cup only eight times. Three other teams reached the Stanley Cup Finals, but failed to win. The most recent team to win both the Presidents' Trophy and the Stanley Cup in the same season were the 2012–13 Chicago Blackhawks. The only team to accomplish this more than once is the Detroit Red Wings.
The Trophy was introduced at the start of the 1985–86 NHL season by the League's Board of Governors. Prior to this, the best team in the League during the regular season was allowed to hang a banner reading "NHL League Champions."
A total of 17 teams have won the Presidents' Trophy. The Detroit Red Wings have won six Presidents' Trophies, the most of any team. The Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche, New York Rangers and Washington Capitals are second with three. Five teams (Calgary Flames, Chicago Blackhawks, Dallas Stars, Edmonton Oilers, Vancouver Canucks) are tied for third most with two Presidents' Trophy wins apiece. Among these multiple winners, Calgary, Dallas, Detroit, Edmonton, Vancouver, and Washington have won it in consecutive seasons.
If there are two or more teams tied for first in points in the League, then the NHL's standard tiebreaking procedure is applied, with the first tiebreaker being the team with the most regulation wins (that is, all games won except those won in overtime or in a shootout). During the shortened 2020–21 season, both the Colorado Avalanche and Vegas Golden Knights finished tied for first with 82 points in 56 games, with Colorado winning the trophy since they had 35 regulation wins while Vegas had 30. From the 2010–11 through 2018–19 seasons, the first tiebreaker was most regulation and overtime wins. Before 2010–11, the first tiebreaker was the most wins including both overtime and shootout wins. The most notable of the pre-2010–11 protocol is from the 2006–07 season, where both the Buffalo Sabres and Detroit Red Wings finished tied first with 113 points, with the Sabres winning the Trophy since they had 53 wins, three more than Detroit, who had 50.
From 1937 to 1967, the same criterion now observed for winning the Presidents' Trophy was used to award the Prince of Wales Trophy. With the Modern Era expansion in the 1967–68 season and the creation of the West Division, the Wales Trophy was awarded to the team that finished in first place in the East Division during the regular season. However, no trophy was awarded to the team that finished with the best overall record in the entire League during this period, and no trophy at all was awarded based on the results of the regular season from the 1981–82 through 1984–85 seasons. A cash bonus of $350,000 was awarded to the winning team with the NHL's best regular-season record during these years, to which the Presidents' Trophy was added in 1985–86. The cash bonus is split amongst the players on the active roster of the winning team.
Factoring all NHL seasons prior to the introduction of the Presidents' Trophy, the Montreal Canadiens have finished first overall 21 times, the most times in League history (although this was most recently accomplished in 1977–78, before the Trophy was introduced; since its inception, the Canadiens have been Presidents' runners-up three times, in 1987–88, 1988–89, and 2014–15). Detroit is second with 18 first-overall finishes.
It is the reality of the sport. If your particular strength happens to be that you're really good offensively, and you come up against a hot goaltender and a team that is stout defensively, it might not matter that you were good on a nightly basis scoring goals. And that one particular opponent: you'll have to beat them four times.
The Presidents' Trophy winner is normally guaranteed home-ice advantage throughout the Stanley Cup playoffs.[nb 1] This does not necessarily correlate to success in the playoffs, however. The Trophy has been awarded 33 times, but only eight of the winners have gone on to win the Stanley Cup in their respective years, leading to a popular superstition that the Trophy may be cursed. In addition, seven Presidents' Trophy winners have been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, with first-round upsets being common in the NHL compared to other major professional sports.
NHL broadcaster Darren Eliot attributes the apparent lack of playoff success to the different style of competition compared to the regular season: instead of playing different teams every night, the goal is to advance through four best-of-seven playoff series. The Presidents' Trophy winner may have to go through other playoff clubs who might have a hotter goaltender, a better defensive team or other players that pose match-up problems. If the regular-season champion's primary success was merely outscoring others, they may be out of luck facing goaltenders that can shut them out. The lack of playoff experience may have been to blame in the examples of the 1999–2000 St. Louis Blues and 2008–09 San Jose Sharks, as neither team had advanced past the second round for five or more seasons. Teams have often given up pursuit of finishing first in the League in order to avoid injuries and rest key players for the postseason. Another example of the curse is the 2018–19 Tampa Bay Lightning, who were swept in the first round by the Wild Card Columbus Blue Jackets after a dominant season in which they tied the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings' record for regular season wins, becoming the first President's Trophy winner to suffer this fate. Adding to the ignominy was the Blue Jackets' previous lack of post-season success: their sweep of the Lightning was their first playoff series victory in franchise history, with only four previous playoff qualifications. The 1995-96 Red Wings could also be considered a "cursed" team, as their record-setting season was cut short by the newly-relocated Colorado Avalanche in the Conference Finals, sparking a particularly vicious rivalry between the two teams in subsequent seasons.
Ian Cooper, writing for the Toronto Star, noted that "of 11 Presidents' Trophy winners to lose in the first two rounds, seven came from divisions that were among the league’s weaker half ... If a team dominates a weak division, its shortcomings should become apparent once it faces stiffer competition from the rest of the conference". Jonathan Weiss, writing for the Bleacher Report in 2010, also noted that of the teams between 1982 and 2009 that led the League in points during the regular season, 12 of them (45 per cent) reached the Cup Finals, while of the other 405 teams during that same time period, only 42 (10 per cent) advanced to the final round.
Only three times in the history of the Presidents' Trophy has a team missed the playoffs the season after winning the award: the New York Rangers, who won the Trophy in the 1991–92 season and missed the playoffs in 1992–93 (and then rebounded to win both the Presidents' Trophy and Stanley Cup in 1993–94); the Buffalo Sabres, who won the Trophy in the 2006–07 season and missed the playoffs in 2007–08 (in part because of a debacle in which the team lost both of its top stars to free agency); and the Boston Bruins, who won the Trophy in the 2013–14 season and missed the playoffs in 2014–15 despite having a winning record.
Bold Team with the most points ever accumulated in a season during the trophy's existence.
|Year||Winner||Points||Margin||Win #||Playoff Result|
|1985–86||Edmonton Oilers||119||9||1||Lost Division Finals (CGY)|
|1986–87||Edmonton Oilers||106||6||2||Won Stanley Cup|
|1987–88||Calgary Flames||105||2||1||Lost Division Finals (EDM)|
|1988–89||Calgary Flames||117||2||2||Won Stanley Cup|
|1989–90||Boston Bruins||101||2||1||Lost Stanley Cup Finals (EDM)|
|1990–91||Chicago Blackhawks||106||1||1||Lost Division Semifinals (MNS)|
|1991–92||New York Rangers||105||7||1||Lost Division Finals (PIT)|
|1992–93||Pittsburgh Penguins||119||10||1||Lost Division Finals (NYI)|
|1993–94||New York Rangers||112||6||2||Won Stanley Cup|
|1994–95||Detroit Red Wings||[nb 3]70||5||1||Lost Stanley Cup Finals (NJD)|
|1995–96||Detroit Red Wings||131||27||2||Lost Conference Finals (COL)|
|1996–97||Colorado Avalanche||107||3||1||Lost Conference Finals (DET)|
|1997–98||Dallas Stars||109||2||1||Lost Conference Finals (DET)|
|1998–99||Dallas Stars||114||9||2||Won Stanley Cup|
|1999–2000||St. Louis Blues||114||6||1||Lost Conference Quarterfinals (SJS)|
|2000–01||Colorado Avalanche||118||7||2||Won Stanley Cup|
|2001–02||Detroit Red Wings||116||15||3||Won Stanley Cup|
|2002–03||Ottawa Senators||113||2||1||Lost Conference Finals (NJD)|
|2003–04||Detroit Red Wings||109||3||4||Lost Conference Semifinals (CGY)|
|2004–05||The Presidents' Trophy was not awarded due to the lockout that canceled the entire season.|
|2005–06||Detroit Red Wings||124||11||5||Lost Conference Quarterfinals (EDM)|
|2006–07||Buffalo Sabres||113||0 (3 wins)||1||Lost Conference Finals (OTT)|
|2007–08||Detroit Red Wings||115||7||6||Won Stanley Cup|
|2008–09||San Jose Sharks||117||1||1||Lost Conference Quarterfinals (ANA)|
|2009–10||Washington Capitals||121||8||1||Lost Conference Quarterfinals (MTL)|
|2010–11||Vancouver Canucks||117||10||1||Lost Stanley Cup Finals (BOS)|
|2011–12||Vancouver Canucks||111||2||2||Lost Conference Quarterfinals (LAK)|
|2012–13||Chicago Blackhawks||77[nb 4]||5||2||Won Stanley Cup|
|2013–14||Boston Bruins||117||1||2||Lost Second Round (MTL)|
|2014–15||New York Rangers||113||3||3||Lost Conference Finals (TBL)|
|2015–16||Washington Capitals||120||11||2||Lost Second Round (PIT)|
|2016–17||Washington Capitals||118||7||3||Lost Second Round (PIT)|
|2017–18||Nashville Predators||117||3||1||Lost Second Round (WPG)|
|2018–19||Tampa Bay Lightning||128||21||1||Lost First Round (CBJ)|
|2019–20||Boston Bruins||100[nb 1]||6||3||Lost Second Round (TBL)|
|2020–21||Colorado Avalanche||82[nb 5]||0 (5 regulation wins)||3||Lost Second Round (VGK)|
- Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bruins only played 70 games when the 2019–20 season regular season was curtailed. Under the special 2020 playoff format that was then conducted, with a round-robin tournament for the top four teams in each conference, the Bruins were not guaranteed home-ice advantage in all postseason rounds. Boston's 100 points in 70 games extrapolates to 117 points in an 82-game regular season.
- The playoff format has changed over the years. See Stanley Cup playoffs for more information.
- Only 48 games were played in the 1994–95 season due to a lockout. Detroit's 70 points in 48 games extrapolates to 122 points in 84 games, which was the standard season length at the time.
- Only 48 games were played in the 2012–13 season due to a lockout. Chicago's 77 points in 48 games extrapolates to 132 points in an 82-game season; this number would have eclipsed Detroit's record by one, and would have tied the record-high of points held by the 1976–77 Montreal Canadiens (the trophy did not exist at the time, also, Montreal accomplished the feat in only 80 games and without the benefit of current overtime rules that award one point to teams losing in overtime or shootouts).
- Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020–21 NHL season was shortened to 56 games. Colorado's 82 points in 56 games extrapolates to 120 points in an 82-game season.
Earlier best records
NHL vs. PCHA/WCHL/WHL Stanley Cup era (1917–1926)
Prior to 1926–27, the Stanley Cup was then awarded as a "World Series" trophy between the champions of the NHL and a rival league (first the Pacific Coast Hockey Association, then the Western Canada Hockey League). Instead, the NHL championship trophy during this era was the O'Brien Trophy.
From 1917–18 to 1920–21, the NHL season was split, requiring separate standings, with a single playoff series between the winner of the first half of the season and the winner of the second half of the season.
|Year||Winner||Points[nb2 1]||Playoff Result|
|1917–18||Toronto Hockey Club||26||NHL champions*, won Stanley Cup|
|1918–19||Ottawa Senators||24||Lost NHL Championship (MTL)^|
|1919–20||Ottawa Senators||38||NHL champions, won Stanley Cup†|
|1920–21||Toronto St. Patricks||30||Lost NHL Championship (SEN)^|
|1921–22||Ottawa Senators||30||Lost NHL Championship (TSP)^|
|1922–23||Ottawa Senators||29||NHL champions, won Stanley Cup†|
|1923–24||Ottawa Senators||32||Lost NHL Championship (MTL)^|
|1924–25||Hamilton Tigers||39||Suspended from playoffs[nb2 2]|
|1925–26||Ottawa Senators||52||Lost NHL Final Round (MMR)^|
- For the 1917–18 to 1920–21 seasons, this figure is the sum of the points accumulated during both halves of the season.
- A labour dispute between the Hamilton Tigers' owner and its players forced the team to be suspended from the playoffs.
NHL takes control of the Stanley Cup (since 1927)
After the 1925–26 season, the NHL became the only league left competing for the Stanley Cup. The Stanley Cup thus became the de facto NHL championship trophy, though the league did not take formal control of the trophy until 1947.
- Notwithstanding seasons shortened by labour or other similar issues, the regular season consisted of 44 games from 1926–27 to 1930–31 seasons, 48 games from 1931–32 to 1941–42, 50 games from 1942–43 to 1945–46, 60 games from 1946–47 to 1948–49, 70 games from 1949–50 to 1966–67, 74 games from 1967–68 to 1968–69, 76 games during the 1969–70 season, 78 games from 1970–71 to 1973–74, and 80 games from 1974–75 to 1991–92. The 1992–93 and 1993–94 seasons had 84 games, with two games played at neutral sites; neutral-site games were eliminated for the 1995–96 season.
- Continental Cup, a KHL trophy having the same function as the Presidents' Trophy.
- Supporters' Shield, an MLS trophy having the same function as the Presidents' Trophy.
- "Presidents' Trophy history". NHL. Retrieved September 15, 2007.
- "Presidents' Trophy history". LegendsofHockey.net. Archived from the original on September 22, 2007. Retrieved September 15, 2007.
- "Stanley Cup Champions and Finalists". NHL. Archived from the original on June 29, 2009. Retrieved September 15, 2007.
- "Presidents' Trophy history". NHL.com. Retrieved September 5, 2007.
- "Presidents Trophy Buffalo Bound". NHL.com. Retrieved October 10, 2009.
- "History of the Prince of Wales Trophy". Legends of Hockey.net. Archived from the original on September 29, 2007. Retrieved September 5, 2007.
- "Presidents' Trophy". NHL.com. Retrieved September 15, 2007.
- "Final Standings". NHL.com. Archived from the original on April 3, 2009. Retrieved September 15, 2007.
- Darren Eliot (April 7, 2010). Inside Report: Presidents' Trophy to curse Caps?. SI.com. Retrieved March 30, 2011.
- McGourty, John (June 11, 2009). "Keenan knows Game 7 pressure". NHL.com. Archived from the original on January 8, 2010. Retrieved October 22, 2010.
- Rosen, Dan (April 12, 2009). "A short-term celebration". NHL.com. Retrieved April 29, 2010.
- Bialik, Carl (April 20, 2009). "The Count: The Myth of the President's Trophy Curse". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved April 1, 2011.
- "'Irritated' Caps look for answers". Washington Times. March 31, 2010. Retrieved April 1, 2011.
Then there's the so-called Presidents' Trophy curse: Only seven of 23 teams that have won that piece of hardware have gone on to win the Stanley Cup.
- Klein, Jeff Z.; Hackel, Stu (April 12, 2009). "First-Round Upsets Common in N.H.L". The New York Times.
- "Expect the unexpected in NHL playoffs". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. April 27, 2013.
- Ian Cooper (April 10, 2014). "Why the NHL Presidents' Trophy curse is a myth: Department of Hockey Analytics". Toronto Star. Retrieved April 14, 2015.
- Jonathan Weiss (April 4, 2010). "The Curse of the Presidents' Trophy: Fact or Fiction?". Bleacher Report. Retrieved April 14, 2015.