Saturday, April 02, 2011

The Presidents' Trophy Matters (For, Like, One More Week)

Stop clapping, damn it! Aside from the thing they won, they haven't won anything!

By now, you've probably heard the news that the Canucks have won the Presidents' Trophy. You've probably also heard some of the subsequent chatter surrounding the merit of the accomplishment. You may have heard, for instance, that this trophy doesn't matter, that only playoff success matters. That is patently false, and you likely heard it from fools.

Rather than explain why, I'll turn things over to Tom Benjamin, who recently debunked the crap out of this crackpot theory:

While there is no doubt that the big prize of any season is the Stanley Cup, its foolish to denigrate other accomplishments in the hockey season, be it the President’s Trophy or even a Divisional title. The more we diminish the regular season, the less reason any of us has to watch.

What he said. Regular season accomplishments may not be playoff accomplishments, but they are still noteworthy accomplishments. Ryan Lambert of Puck Daddy argues winning the Presidents' Trophy might even be more impressive than winning the Stanley Cup:

[...] don't get me wrong, I love the playoffs for all the drama that the ping-pong-ball probability brings. But the value placed on them, rather than the regular season, seems far too great to be reasonable. Winning in the playoffs isn't everything. In fact, it's occasionally a complete fluke. You don't get Edmonton/Carolina Cup Finals otherwise.

Yeah, winning the Stanley Cup is a pretty cool accomplishment, and one that should obviously be celebrated to some extent. But to also denigrate beating the hell out of everyone you play for 82 games? That's just stupid. Because winning the Presidents' Trophy is a more impressive achievement.

He might be hyperbolizing slightly, but he's got a point. The Stanley Cup has achieved a level of importance so vast that regular-season accomplishments are, comparatively, worth squat. That's not how it should be. Winning the regular season is a huge deal. Considering that it's technically harder to win than the Stanley Cup, it's silly to pretend it means nothing.

Consider, for example, the Olympics and the World Championships in any sport. The world championships may often be considered the last big tuneup before the Olympics, but nobody scoffs at a world champion just because he or she didn't win an Olympic gold medal. Yes, people place more value on the Olympics, but winning at the World Championships is far from meaningless.

You may have also heard someone espouse the theory behind The Presidents' Trophy curse, a laughable belief that being the winningest regular-season team means a postseason of cuplessness and utter damnation. Jonathan Willis recently debunked the crap out of this crackpot theory:

[Since 1994] the Presidents’ Trophy winner [has been] the most successful team, being:
  • eliminated in the first round the fewest number of times
  • eliminated in the second round the fewest number of times
  • the Stanley Cup champion more frequently than any other seed
  • in the Finals three times as often as the second seed
[...] Given that the Presidents’ Trophy slot is obviously the most favourable position, why do we create factually vacuous phantoms like the ‘Presidents’ Trophy Curse?'

Okay, so not only does the Presidents' Trophy matter, but it's actually a predictor of success. It is unquestionably worth celebrating, and usually means a pretty decent postseason run is on the horizon.

That said, as soon as the postseason actually starts, it stops mattering.

With that in mind, the Canucks might want to get that banner up lickety-split. The team will be awarded the trophy in a ceremony before their final regular season home game on Thursday, and it would be wisdom to prepare to raise the banner that same day. If they wait until next season, it either goes up alongside a Stanley Cup banner or it goes up without it. If it's the former, no one will care about a Presidents' Trophy banner. If it's the latter, people will just resent it, and we'll be subjected to more silliness about how it doesn't matter.

However, if you raise it on Thursday, there's a possibility that the banner--and the accomplishment it represents--will receive the fanfare it deserves.


  1. Yeah that's about right. I'm getting tired of hearing in the media about how the presidents' trophy winner has only 7 Stanley cups. Job well done by our team though, we should be damn proud of it, especially with 4 games left!


  3. April 1

    Hawks and Blue Jackets in OT
    Therefore one point at least is gained
    Chicago doing as it's wont to do
    Versus Vancouver it is ordained

    And should it be as I've explained
    If once again they meet the Hawks
    Canuck fans will surely be afraid
    Because of past post season shocks

    The game is done the Hawks have won
    The 'Nucks demise has now begun

    Chicken Hawk

  4. I found your typo, Schneider's Teeth. And a second typo you didn't find. #Iwin

  5. "If its the former ...."

    guess i found the third one.


  6. Amen! I've been making this argument all season. Finally I have a link to send people to when they try to argue against me. Once again PITB, you have made my day!

  7. PS Those typo's... nice comedic touch!


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