The Vancouver Canucks won their first Presidents' Trophy Thursday, an award for the league's best record that comes with a banner but not much else in recent seasons.
The previous two winners, the San Jose Sharks (2009) and Washington Capitals (2010), failed to make it out of the first round. Only one team over the last seven seasons -- the 2008 Detroit Red Wings -- has won the Presidents' Trophy and then the Stanley Cup.
No team that has won the Presidents' Trophy for the first time has clinched a title the same season.
"I don't believe there is a Presidents' Trophy jinx," Vancouver Canucks general manager Mike Gillis told The Vancouver Sun this week.
Introduced coincidently the same year as New Coke, this award was first handed out during the 1985-86 season -- and the trophy has been about as well-received by some as the ill-fated soft drink. It’s the kind of award franchises don't tend to celebrate unless they don't have anything else to raise to the rafters come their home opener the next season.
One of the Sedin twins told The Vancouver Sun after Thursday’s 3-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings what it meant to him:
“Nothing,” Daniel Sedin said after pushing closer to matching brother Henrik's Hart Trophy-Art Ross double by scoring one Vancouver goal and setting up another. “Ninety-five per cent of this team has been through playoff failure and we don't want to be part of that anymore. I don't think it's about learning anymore; we've learned enough.
“We're focused every game on playing the right way, and that can't change in the playoffs. That's the mindset we have to have. We don't need to do anything extra, just go out there and take care of business."
The “jinx” may have started at the beginning. The Edmonton Oilers had won back-to-back titles before they became the first recipient of the Presidents’ Trophy. Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier and Co. went on to lose in the second round to the Calgary Flames. The Oilers won the Presidents’ again a season later en route to the Stanley Cup title, the first of another back-to-back run.
Of the first 24 teams to win the Presidents’ Trophy, seven teams (29%) won the Stanley Cup the same season. This comes despite having home-ice advantage, the one tangible reward for the trophy. That could prove huge for the Canucks, who have a league-best home record (26-8-5).
Vancouver may not be plagued by any curse this postseason. It could just come down to injuries.
Center Manny Malhotra, whose value in the locker room could be just as key as his prowess in the faceoff circle, is out for the season with an eye injury that required a second surgery this week. Defenseman Dan Hamhuis suffered his second concussion in less than two months on Sunday and is out indefinitely. Forward Mikael Samuelsson missed his fifth consecutive game with an undisclosed injury. Winger Tanner Glass has been out now nine games in a row with an undisclosed injury.
But the Canucks still have plenty of pieces left, including the matching Swedish ones. Daniel Sedin leads the league with 100 points (41 goals, 59 assists), while brother Henrick has 91 points (19 goals, 72 assists.) Goalie Roberto Luongo its tops in the league in wins (37) and he's third in save percentage (.927) and goals-against average (2.14). Center Ryan Kesler has 37 goals, good enough for fourth in the NHL.
The Canucks, a franchise celebrating their 40th anniversary, has also set new marks for wins (52), points (113) and road victories (26).
Of course, not much of this will be looked upon to fondly if the Canucks follow the path of the 2009 Sharks, 2010 Capitals or the other 15 Presidents’ Trophy-winning teams that fell short of getting their names etched on the Cup.
Atlanta 1, Philadelphia 0
NY Islanders 6, NY Rangers 2
Washington 4, Columbus 3 (OT)
Toronto 4, Boston 3 (SO)
Ottawa 4, Florida 1
Tampa Bay 2, Pittsburgh 1
Minnesota 4, Edmonton 2
Nashville 3, Colorado 2
Vancouver 3, Los Angeles 1
San Jose 6, Dallas 0
-- A.J Perez
Photo: US Presswire