The NHL's Presidents' Trophy is cursed

Presidents’ Trophy Curse Is Alive And Well

Finishing the NHL regular season with the best record is a huge accomplishment. You even win a trophy for it! Since 1985-86, the league’s regular-season champion has been awarded the Presidents’ Trophy.

Winning the Presidents’ Trophy would be a great honor if NHL teams cared about it. The fact is, they just don’t care, mainly because the Stanley Cup is the prize every team is chasing, but also because the Presidents’ Trophy is cursed.

Since the trophy was first handed out in ’85-86, only eight winners have gone on to hoist the Stanley Cup in the same season. That’s an embarrassingly low 22 percent rate of success.

Presidents’ Trophy Curse: Current Trend

No team has won both the Presidents’ Trophy and the Stanley Cup since the Chicago Blackhawks did it in 2012-13. That’s a hex that has gone uninterrupted for a decade. And it gets worse. 

Of the last nine Presidents’ Trophy winners, only one team (the 2014-15 New York Rangers) has gone as far as the conference final. Most of the time, the regular-season champs trip up in the second round. 

And this curse applies to some of the best NHL teams to ever play the game.

Presidents’ Trophy Curse: History Doesn't Matter

The curse doesn’t quiver in the face of history either. The 2022-23 Boston Bruins had the best regular season record in NHL history with 135 points, three points better than the 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens who are widely seen as the best team to ever play the game.

And, as you know, the Bruins were eliminated in the first round of the 2023 playoffs by the Florida Panthers. Florida was the lowest-ranked team in the playoffs and finished 43 points behind Boston in the regular season. Again, the curse doesn't care about history.

The Bruins aren’t the first record-setting Presidents’ Trophy-winning team to have missed out on the Stanley Cup:

  • In 2018-19, the Tampa Bay Lightning, who had equalized the single-season record for wins (62), got swept in the opening round of the playoffs by Columbus, a team that was 30 points worse than Tampa.
  • In 1995-95, the Detroit Red Wings set the single-season record for wins (62) and lost in the Western Conference Finals to Colorado.

The curse doesn’t care about history, record-breaking teams, or the regular season. With Boston succumbing to Florida this year, the myth and legend of the Presidents’ Trophy curse grows.

Presidents’ Trophy Last 10 Winners

Last 10 Presidents’ Trophy Winners
Year Winner
2023 Boston Bruins
2022  Florida Panthers
2021 Colorado Avalanche
2020 Boston Bruins
2019 Tampa Bay Lightning
2018 Nashville Predators
2017 Washington Capitals
2016 Washington Capitals
2015 New York Rangers
2014 Boston Bruins

I’m sure the NHL brass smile from ear to ear when they see a list like this. Over the last 10 years, there have been seven different regular-season champions. Parity is alive and well in the NHL!