Since the Tampa Bay Lightning have clinched their first-ever Presidents’ Trophy, one question must be asked: will they fall victim to the infamous Presidents’ Trophy “curse”?
Now of course there is no actual “curse”…or is there? It depends on who you ask. The same people who believed that the “Curse of the Bambino” and “Curse of the Billy Goat” plagued the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs for decades, respectively, are likely the same people that would prefer their favorite hockey club avoid the Presidents’ Trophy.
That seems ridiculous to not want your team to finish with the best regular season record! Right?! So let’s take a look at the stats on how successful Presidents’ Trophy winners have been in the playoffs since the trophy’s inception in 1985.
In the 32 years that the trophy has been awarded – which excludes the 2004-05 lockout season – eight teams have gone on to win the Stanley Cup. That’s a clean 25 percent success rate and doesn’t seem so bad. This excludes the three teams that went to the Stanley Cup Final and lost. So now we are at 11 out of 32, or nearly 35 percent of President’s Trophy winners that have at least made it to the Final.
It should be noted that out of the four major sports leagues in North America (the NBA, MLB, NFL and NHL) only the NBA and NHL require 16 wins in order to hoist the championship trophy. World Series champs need just 11 wins – 12 if you start with the elimination Wild Card game – while Super Bowl champions require only four victories, or three if you earn a first round bye. Winning the Stanley Cup is arguably one of the most, if not the most difficult trophy to win.
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Now, you know how negative comments or remarks tend to stick out in people’s minds and get remembered the most, even if there is also a lot of positive feedback that comes with it? This is likely a relatable scenario for why early playoff exits by Presidents’ Trophy winners appear like sore thumbs.
Of those 32 Presidents’ Trophy-winning teams, six have lost in the first round and nine have lost in the second. That’s 15 of 32 teams or nearly 47 percent of Presidents’ Trophy winners getting eliminated within the first half of the postseason. All of those early exits have seemingly resonated enough to spark the conversation of this so-called “cursed Presidents’ Trophy.”
This curse speculation also got accentuated when the Washington Capitals won back-to-back Presidents’ Trophies – in the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons – and lost in the second round both years to the eventual Stanley Cup-champion Pittsburgh Penguins. Not to mention the fact that the record-setting 131-point Red Wings team of 1995-96, that the Bolts are currently chasing, failed make it to the Final in their historic season.
So what does this mean for this first-time Presidents’ Trophy-winning Tampa Bay Lightning squad? Nothing at all. But people can drum it up into whatever they’d like: a curse, a myth or just straight-up bologna.
This Bolts team has said time and time again that they aren’t focused on records or accomplishments, so they are certainly not thinking about curses either. The Lightning remain determined to further hone their game and blaze their path to the Stanley Cup Final.
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One thing is for sure though: the Lightning will either add more fuel to the fire of the mythical “curse” or they will be joining those eight championship teams by earning that 16th postseason win this year.