The Tampa Bay Lightning touched the Prince of Wales Trophy and are hoping history repeats itself.
NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly presented the trophy to captain Steven Stamkos following a 1-0 win against the New York Islanders in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Semifinals at Amalie Arena in Tampa on Friday. Stamkos picked up the trophy before he and his teammates posed for photos with it.
The Lightning touched the Prince of Wales Trophy last season and won the Stanley Cup, defeating the Dallas Stars in six games. In 2015, when Stamkos didn’t touch it, they lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in six games in the Cup Final. In 2004, Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk didn’t lift it, and they went on to win the Cup, defeating the Calgary Flames in seven games.
Four of the past five teams to win the Cup have touched the Prince of Wales Trophy. Prior to last season, Sidney Crosby touched it in 2016 and in 2017 before helping the Pittsburgh Penguins win the Cup each season, and Alex Ovechkin did the same in 2018 with the Washington Capitals, who won the Cup.
The tradition of not touching the Prince of Wales Trophy hasn’t worked out well for Eastern Conference champions in recent seasons. The Boston Bruins in 2011 are the most recent team to win the Cup after choosing not to touch it. The past five teams to not do so lost the Cup Final.
Bruins captain Zdeno Chara did not touch the trophy in 2019, and Boston lost to the St. Louis Blues in seven games in the Cup Final. The New Jersey Devils (2012), Bruins (2013), New York Rangers (2014) and Lightning (2015) all lost in the Cup Final after refusing to touch the trophy.
Because of temporary divisional realignment due to COVID-19 this season, the third round of the playoffs was renamed the semifinals, instead of the conference finals.
The Prince of Wales Trophy had been awarded to the Eastern Conference champion since the 1993-94 season.
The Montreal Canadiens, who defeated the Vegas Golden Knights in the other semifinal, did not touch the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl, usually awarded to the Western Conference champion.