While the Detroit Red Wings were successfully completing their mad dash toward their 22nd consecutive playoff appearance, something became lost in the hoopla.
This will be Detroit’s last run for the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl, the overly ornate trophy that’s awarded to the Western Conference playoff champion.
No other Western Conference team has won old Clarence more than the Red Wings — sort of.
Actually, the trophy has been around since the 1967-68 season and has been awarded to the West Division regular season champion (1967-74), the Campbell Conference regular season champion (1974-81), the Campbell Conference playoff champion (1981-93) and the Western Conference playoff champion from 1993 to this present day.
Edmonton has won old Clarence seven times. But since 1993, the Wings’ six wins have far outdistanced any of their conference rivals. Several teams are tied at two apiece for the second most Campbell Bowls.
This current quest for old Clarence is important for two reasons.
First, if you really believe that the Wings are headed to the Eastern Conference next season — the Phoenix Coyotes situation has created a doubt in my mind — this will be Detroit’s swan song in the Western Conference playoffs.
What better way to stick it to your soon-to-be former rivals than winning the conference that you have dominated since it was created back in 1993?
“We’re outta here and we’re taking old Clarence for the seventh time!”
It will take years before any Western Conference team surpasses or even matches Detroit’s number of old Clarence victories.
Second, this is a personal reason: I miss the Red Wings annual playoff slogan.
Granted, coming up with a new slogan each and every year is difficult. How many ways can you battle cry that you want the Stanley Cup?
But this year is unique.
At the conclusion of this playoff run, it’s over. An outstanding era of Red Wings hockey will be for the NHL history books. s
Next season will usher in a new conference and several young faces. They will still be the Red Wings, but it will be different.
That’s why I have a rallying cry for this final Western Conference playoff run: Capture Clarence, then the Cup!
It’s not the greatest. I’ll admit, but it does say it all.