John Garrett: A big deal
Last week the Vancouver Canucks clinched the Presidents' Trophy.
There was no champagne, there was no fanfare, there was no chanting "we're #1." The players and management offered each other congratulations on accomplishing another one of their goals, but to a man they said it was no big deal.
You do not grow up playing hockey and say your dream is to win the Presidents' Trophy. The ultimate prize is, and always has been, the Stanley Cup. You ask anybody who has played the game if they would have their choice of an Olympic Gold Medal or a Stanley Cup, they would look you in the eye and say 'let me drink out of Lord Stanley's mug.'
This leads me into the value placed on winning the Presidents' Trophy. Do you get a ring? No. Do you get your name on it? No. Do you get a day with it to show your friends? No. You get home ice throughout the playoffs and that is a tangible benefit, but to me it is in what it represents.
Finishing first in a 30 team league shows that for 82 games your team was more prepared and worked harder than any other team. Your team was more consistent than any other team and the individuals on your team proved it night after night.
Daniel Sedin had points in 47 of the first 56 games. Henrik did one better. He had points in 48 of the first 56. Manny Malhotra was either first or second in faceoff percentage right from game one. His unfortunate eye injury is one of many that have tested this team and yet they continue to win.
Ryan Kesler has had a career year and has become an integral part of the number one power play in the league. It, like the penalty kill, has been the model of consistency. The longest they went without scoring a power play goal in the first three quarters of the season was three games. The penalty kill has been in the top five throughout the year and had stretches of eight games where they were unbeatable. Roberto Luongo has not allowed more than three goals in 24 starts and has allowed only eight in his last six games. Cory Schneider had a six game winning streak snapped on Saturday. I could go on and on about how the defence has filled in whenever one of the regulars went down and how well all the call-ups have responded, but it would become redundant.
The Canucks won the Presidents' Trophy because they have played well on more nights than anybody else and that is a big deal.