Debunking The President's Trophy Curse

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president'scurse

In the past few years, around this time of the year, you’ll often hear fans around the NHL refer to the ‘President’s Trophy Curse’. For the unaware, it is the sentiment that whichever team finishes first in the NHL, thus winning the President’s Trophy, will not be winning the Stanley Cup that year. This very idea has lead to some rather… interesting suggestions that teams maybe drop a couple points late in the season in order to not finish on top of the standings.

Tonight, Crosschecked takes a look at this so-called ‘curse’ in an attempt to see if it has any actual merit.

Below you’ll find a list of past Stanley Cup winners along with their place in the standings at the end of the regular season.. Since the President’s Trophy was introduced in 1986, we’ll only concern ourselves with years since then:

1986: Montreal Canadiens (7th)
1987: Edmonton Oilers (1st)
1988: Edmonton Oilers (3rd)
1989: Calgary Flames (1st)
1990: Edmonton Oilers (5th)
1991: Pittsburgh Penguins (7th)
1992: Pittsburgh Penguins (6th)
1993: Montreal Canadiens (6th)
1994: New York Rangers (1st)
1995: New Jersey Devils (9th)
1996: Colorado Avalanche (2nd)
1997: Detroit Red Wings (5th)
1998: Detroit Red Wings (3rd)
1999: Dallas Stars (1st)
2000: New Jersey Devils (4th)
2001: Colorado Avalanche (1st)
2002: Detroit Red Wings (1st)
2003: New Jersey Devils (4th)
2004: Tampa Bay Lighting (2nd)
2006: Carolina Hurricanes (4th)
2007: Anaheim Ducks (4th)
2008: Detroit Red Wings (1st)
2009: Pittsburgh Penguins (8th)
2010: Chicago Blackhawks (3rd)
2011: Boston Bruins (7th)

Now because we’re concerned with whether or not the first placed team is winning the Stanley Cup, we’ll rearrange the list by the number of times each ‘place’ has won the Cup.

1st – 7/25
2nd – 2/25
3rd – 3/25
4th – 4/25
5th – 2/25
6th – 2/25
7th – 3/25
8th – 1/25
9th – 1/25

As you can see, since the President’s Trophy’s inception 25 years ago, the majority of Stanley Cups have been won by the first placed team, with the fourth ranked team in the league a close second. Even if you were to look at post-lockout seasons only, you’d see that there was still a recent President’s Trophy, Stanley Cup winner. Expand that to the last decade and you’ve still got three first placed teams winning the Stanley Cup.

The stats don’t lie. The ‘President’s Trophy Curse’ is more fabrication than reality.

That being said, I’m sure most Canucks fans wouldn’t mind finishing out of first place in the league after last year’s fiasco.

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Dean Brookstone 

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