|Established||1985–86 NHL season|
|Current holder(s)||Chicago Blackhawks|
|Awarded to the||National Hockey League team with the most points (best record) in the regular season|
The Presidents' Trophy is an award presented by the National Hockey League (NHL) to the team that finishes with the most points (i.e. best record) in the league during the regular season. If two teams tie for the most points, then the trophy goes to the team with the most wins. The Presidents' Trophy has been awarded 27 times to 15 different teams since its inception during the 1985–86 season. The current holder is the Chicago Blackhawks for the 2012–13 NHL season, their second win after winning it during the 1990–91 season.
The trophy was introduced at the start of the 1985–86 NHL season by the league's Board of Governors. Prior to this, the best team in the league during the regular season was allowed to hang a banner stating "NHL League Champions".
If there are two or more teams tied for first in points in the league, then the NHL's standard tiebreaking procedure is applied, with the first tiebreaker being the team with the most wins. An example of this is from the 2006–07 season, where both the Buffalo Sabres and Detroit Red Wings finished first with 113 points. However, Buffalo had 53 wins while Detroit had 50, thus the trophy was awarded to the Sabres.
A total of 15 teams have won the Presidents' Trophy. The Red Wings have won six Presidents' Trophies, the most of any team. Seven teams (Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, Edmonton Oilers, New York Rangers, Vancouver Canucks, and Chicago Blackhawks) are tied for second most with two Presidents' Trophy wins apiece. Among these multiple winners, Calgary, Dallas, Detroit, Edmonton, and Vancouver have won it in consecutive seasons.
From 1937 to 1968, the same criterion now observed for winning the Presidents' Trophy was used to award the Prince of Wales Trophy. With the Modern Era expansion in the 1967–68 season and the creation of the West Division, the Wales Trophy was awarded to the team that finished in first place in the East Division during the regular season. However, no trophy was awarded to the team that finished with the best overall record in the entire league during this period, and no trophy at all was awarded based on the results of the regular season from the 1981–82 through 1984–85 seasons. A cash bonus of $350,000 was awarded to the winning team with the league's best regular-season record during these years, to which the Presidents' Trophy was added in 1985–86. The cash bonus is split amongst the players on the active roster of the winning team.
Factoring all NHL seasons prior to the introduction of the Presidents' Trophy, the Montreal Canadiens have finished first overall 21 times, the most times in league history (although this was most recently accomplished in 1977–78, before the trophy was introduced). Detroit is second with 18 first-overall finishes.
The Presidents' Trophy winner is guaranteed home-ice advantage in all four rounds of the Stanley Cup playoffs, provided the team advances that far. However, it does not guarantee that success, as only eight of all the Presidents' Trophy winners have gone on to win the Stanley Cup in their respective years, leading to a popular superstition that the trophy may be cursed. In addition, six Presidents' Trophy winners have been eliminated in the preliminary round of the playoffs, with first-round upsets being common in the NHL compared to other major professional sports.
According to NHL broadcaster Darren Eliot, this lack of success is because the style of competition in the playoffs is different from the regular season: instead of playing different teams every night, the goal is to advance through four best-of-seven playoff series. The Presidents' Trophy winner may have to go through other playoff clubs who might have a hotter goaltender, a better defensive team, or other players that pose matchup problems. If the regular season champion's primary success was only outscoring others, they may be out of luck facing goaltenders that can shut them out. The lack of playoff experience may have been to blame in the examples of the 1999-00 St. Louis Blues and 2008-09 San Jose Sharks, as neither team has advanced past the second round for five or more seasons. Teams have often given up pursuit of finishing first in the league in order avoid injuries and rest key players for the postseason.
Twice in the history of the Presidents' trophy, a team missed the playoffs the season after winning the award: the New York Rangers, who won the trophy in the 1991–92 season missed the playoffs in 1992–93 (and then rebounded to win both the Presidents' Trophy and Stanley Cup in 1993–94), and the Buffalo Sabres, who won the trophy in the 2006–07 season missed the playoffs in 2007–08.
|Year||Winner||Points||Playoff Result||Win #|
|1985–86||Edmonton Oilers||119||Lost Division Finals (CGY)||1|
|1986–87||Edmonton Oilers||105||Won Stanley Cup*||2|
|1987–88||Calgary Flames||105||Lost Division Finals (EDM)||1|
|1988–89||Calgary Flames||117||Won Stanley Cup*||2|
|1989–90||Boston Bruins||101||Lost Stanley Cup Finals (EDM)^||1|
|1990–91||Chicago Blackhawks||106||Lost Division Semifinals (MIN)#||1|
|1991–92||New York Rangers||105||Lost Division Finals (PIT)||1|
|1992–93||Pittsburgh Penguins||119||Lost Division Finals (NYI)||1|
|1993–94||New York Rangers||112||Won Stanley Cup*||2|
|1994–95||Detroit Red Wings||[nb 2]70||Lost Stanley Cup Finals (NJ)^||1|
|1995–96||Detroit Red Wings||131||Lost Conference Finals (COL)||2|
|1996–97||Colorado Avalanche||107||Lost Conference Finals (DET)||1|
|1997–98||Dallas Stars||109||Lost Conference Finals (DET)||1|
|1998–99||Dallas Stars||114||Won Stanley Cup*||2|
|1999–2000||St. Louis Blues||114||Lost Conference Quarterfinals (SJ)#||1|
|2000–01||Colorado Avalanche||118||Won Stanley Cup*||2|
|2001–02||Detroit Red Wings||116||Won Stanley Cup*||3|
|2002–03||Ottawa Senators||113||Lost Conference Finals (NJ)||1|
|2003–04||Detroit Red Wings||109||Lost Conference Semifinals (CGY)||4|
|2004–05||The Presidents' Trophy was not awarded due to the lockout that canceled the entire season.|
|2005–06||Detroit Red Wings||124||Lost Conference Quarterfinals (EDM)#||5|
|2006–07||Buffalo Sabres||113||Lost Conference Finals (OTT)||1|
|2007–08||Detroit Red Wings||115||Won Stanley Cup*||6|
|2008–09||San Jose Sharks||117||Lost Conference Quarterfinals (ANA)#||1|
|2009–10||Washington Capitals||121||Lost Conference Quarterfinals (MTL)#||1|
|2010–11||Vancouver Canucks||117||Lost Stanley Cup Finals (BOS)^||1|
|2011–12||Vancouver Canucks||111||Lost Conference Quarterfinals (LA)#||2|
|2012–13||Chicago Blackhawks||77[nb 3]||Won Stanley Cup*||2|
- Continental Cup, a KHL trophy having the same function as the Presidents' Trophy.