Mark your calendars now because the 2018-19 home opener of the Nashville Predators will feature (at least) three new banners being raised to the Bridgestone Arena rafters.
Thanks to their 4-3 win over the Washington Capitals on Thursday night, the Predators clinched the Central Division and Western Conference titles. In their 19 previous seasons as a National Hockey League franchise, Nashville had never won a division or conference title. If those two accolades weren’t enough, thanks to a little help from the Florida Panthers beating the Boston Bruins in regulation, they secured the Presidents’ Trophy for the best record in the NHL.
While the Predators chased the top of the 2017-18 mountain over the past few weeks, a lot has been made about the so-called “Presidents’ Trophy curse.” In short, the supposed “curse” states that winning the regular season championship goes hand-in-hand with not winning the Stanley Cup two and a half months later.
“I’ve heard that before,” Nashville forward Colton Sissons said last week. “I personally don’t listen to that. I’m not sure how other guys feel about it but I think it would be pretty cool to get that in Nashville for the first time. I’m not too worried about it. We’re definitely still gunning for it, regardless of any weird superstitions about it.”
Let’s put all that hoopla surrounding the trophy to bed, shall we?
The award was first handed out in 1985-86 so there have been 31 winners. Of those 31, 11 went to the Final and eight won the Stanley Cup. Quick math says that, if you earn the regular-season honor, you have a 35 percent chance to make it to the Final and a 26 percent chance of hoisting the chalice. Considering the fact that 16 teams get into the playoffs every year, those are actually pretty favorable odds.
“The big goal for every team is to win the Stanley Cup,” captain Roman Josi told Stephen Whyno of the Association Press Thursday night. “But you can’t win the Stanley Cup right now. It was something we took a lot of pride in and I think winning it is a big accomplishment for us.”
Prior to 1986, it would’ve been ludicrous to suggest a curse. Why? Of the 18 regular season champions between 1967-68 and 1984-85 (the NHL’s “Expansion Era” prior to the Presidents’ Trophy becoming an award), 14 of them played into late May/early June and 11 of them won the whole thing.
Furthermore, fans who bring up the curse aren’t looking beyond that position in the standings. Below are each of the past 19 campaigns and where the Stanley Cup winner’s ranked at the end of the regular season. As you can see, no single ranking has produced more than one Stanley Cup winner in the past 10 years and, in reality, if you go all the way back as far as the controversial Dallas Stars win in 1999, the team finishing first in the regular season has actually hoisted Lord Stanley more times than any other final position.
|2013-14||9||Los Angeles Kings|
|2011-12||13||Los Angeles Kings|
|2007-08||1||Detroit Red Wings|
|2003-04||2||Tampa Bay Lightning|
|2002-03||4||New Jersey Devils|
|2001-02||1||Detroit Red Wings|
|1999-2000||4||New Jersey Devils|
As Boyd Williams said on Twitter last month, “every position must be cursed so you might as well finish first.”
The bottom line is this is an era-based argument. Yes, right now in 2018, no Presidents’ Trophy winner has etched their roster onto Lord Stanley since the 2013 Chicago Blackhawks did five years ago. But, in 2003, there was practically zero mention of a curse because three of the last four winners had won both.
All that bebunking aside, it’s only fair to point out a flaw, however.
On Thursday night, the Predators became the 16th different team to win the Presidents’ Trophy since its inception. Of the previous 15, none went onto throw a parade in the year of their first Presidents’ Trophy win. Three of the first-time winners did go to the Final (1990 Boston Bruins, 1995 Detroit Red Wings and the 2011 Vancouver Canucks) but none of them came out on top.
Short of that one factoid, the so-called “Presidents’ Trophy curse” is a bunch of garbage.
GRAPHIC: Kevin Klimek