Prince of Wales Trophy

The Prince of Wales Trophy,[1] also known as the Wales Trophy, is a team award presented by the National Hockey League (NHL). Named for Prince Edward, Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII and then Duke of Windsor), it has been awarded for different accomplishments throughout its history.

Prince of Wales Trophy
Hhof prince of wales.jpg
SportIce hockey
Awarded forEastern Conference playoff champions of the National Hockey League
First award1925–26 NHL season
First winnerMontreal Canadiens
Most winsMontreal Canadiens (25)
Most recentFlorida Panthers (2)

The trophy was first presented during the 1925–26 NHL season to the champion of the first game in Madison Square Garden on December 15, 1925. It was subsequently presented to the champion of the NHL playoffs (including the previous two seasons). The Wales Trophy was then awarded to the champion of the American Division (1927–1938) and later the NHL regular season champions (1938–1967). Since the 1967 NHL expansion, it has served as a counterpart to the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl by using the same criteria in the opposite competitive grouping. The Wales Trophy has been awarded to the East Division regular season champions (1967–1974), the Wales Conference regular season champions (1974–1981), the Wales Conference playoff champions (1981–1993), and the Eastern Conference playoff champions (1993–2020, 2021–present).[1]

Due to a modified playoff format held in 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Wales Trophy was awarded to the Tampa Bay Lightning after defeating the New York Islanders in the Stanley Cup Semifinals.


Announcement in The New York Times

The Prince of Wales Trophy was first announced in December 1925. It was sponsored by the then Prince of Wales, Prince Edward, and thus bore the Prince of Wales' feathers and the shield of the Royal Coat of Arms of Canada. Costing $2,500, the trophy was said to be in the possession of the league champion.[2] It was originally awarded to the winner of the first game played in Madison Square Garden, held on December 15, 1925 (Montreal Canadiens 3 at New York Americans 1). The award was then held by the Canadiens until the end of the season.[3][4] The Canadiens engraved their name on the trophy twice, for the 1924–25 season, and the preceding 1923–24 season, for which the team was league champions.

It was then awarded to the NHL playoff champion in 1925–26 and 1926–27, (along with the O'Brien Cup) before that team would go on to face the Western Hockey League (WHL) champion for the Stanley Cup at the end of those seasons.[5] From the 1927–28 season on, the trophy was awarded to the champion of the American Division of the NHL, while the O'Brien Cup was presented to the Canadian Division champion, until 1938, when, after the NHL reverted to a single division, the Wales Trophy was made the award for the overall regular season champion.[5]

With the expansion of the NHL in 1967, and the creation of the West Division, the Wales Trophy was given to the team that finished in first place in the East Division, during the regular season. When the league formed two conferences in 1974, the trophy transferred to the team that finished with the best regular season record in the Wales Conference, until 1981. The NHL changed its playoff format so that the two conference playoff champions would meet for the Stanley Cup. The Prince of Wales Trophy was presented to the Wales Conference playoff champions. In the summer of 1993 Wales Conference was renamed the Eastern Conference. Prince of Wales trophy has been awarded to the Eastern Conference playoff champions since the 1993–94 season.[5]

A superstition that is prevalent among many of today's NHL players is that no player should either touch or hoist the Wales (Eastern Conference champion) or Clarence S. Campbell (Western Conference champion) Trophies after they have won the conference playoffs; these players feel that the Stanley Cup is the true championship trophy and thus it should be the only trophy that they should be hoisting. Instead of touching the conference trophy, the captain of the winning team merely poses (usually looking solemn) with the trophy, and sometimes, the entire team poses as well. However, there have been other teams who have ignored the superstition and hoisted the conference trophies, sometimes going on to win the Cup anyway. Most notably, the Pittsburgh Penguins who were considered the most successful team to touch the trophy, winning the Stanley Cup five times after touching it.[6][7][8][9]

The NHL abolished the conferences and re-aligned the league into four new divisions for the 2020–21 NHL season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, the semifinal round of the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs was contested between the winners of the divisional playoffs and they were seeded according to their regular season record. Initially the trophy was not going to be awarded,[10] but it was later decided that the trophy would be awarded to the winner of the Stanley Cup Semifinals series between the New York Islanders and the Tampa Bay Lightning.[11]


Total awards won
Wins Team
25 Montreal Canadiens
18 Boston Bruins
13 Detroit Red Wings
6 Pittsburgh Penguins
5 New Jersey Devils
Tampa Bay Lightning
4 New York Rangers
Philadelphia Flyers
3 Buffalo Sabres
New York Islanders
2 Carolina Hurricanes
Chicago Blackhawks
Florida Panthers
Toronto Maple Leafs
Washington Capitals
1 Montreal Maroons
Ottawa Senators
Ottawa Senators (original)[nb 1]
  • * – Defunct team
  •   – Eventual Stanley Cup champions
  • a – Engraved in 1925–26.[3]

Original winnerEdit

1923–1925 (pre-donation) engravingsEdit

The Canadiens were league champions for these seasons.

Season Winner Win #
1923–24 Montreal Canadiens  a 1
1924–25 Montreal Canadiens 2

NHL playoff champions (1925–1927)Edit

Season Winner Win #
1925–26 Montreal Maroons *   1
1926–27 Ottawa Senators[nb 1] *   1

American Division regular season champions (1927–1938)Edit

Season Winner Win #
1927–28 Boston Bruins 1
1928–29 Boston Bruins   2
1929–30 Boston Bruins 3
1930–31 Boston Bruins 4
1931–32 New York Rangers 1
1932–33 Boston Bruins 5
1933–34 Detroit Red Wings   1
1934–35 Boston Bruins 6
1935–36 Detroit Red Wings   2
1936–37 Detroit Red Wings   3
1937–38 Boston Bruins 7

Regular season champions (1938–1967)Edit

Season Winner Win #
1938–39 Boston Bruins   8
1939–40 Boston Bruins 9
1940–41 Boston Bruins   10
1941–42 New York Rangers 2
1942–43 Detroit Red Wings   4
1943–44 Montreal Canadiens   3
1944–45 Montreal Canadiens 4
1945–46 Montreal Canadiens   5
1946–47 Montreal Canadiens 6
1947–48 Toronto Maple Leafs   1
1948–49 Detroit Red Wings 5
1949–50 Detroit Red Wings   6
1950–51 Detroit Red Wings 7
1951–52 Detroit Red Wings   8
1952–53 Detroit Red Wings 9
1953–54 Detroit Red Wings   10
1954–55 Detroit Red Wings   11
1955–56 Montreal Canadiens   7
1956–57 Detroit Red Wings 12
1957–58 Montreal Canadiens   8
1958–59 Montreal Canadiens   9
1959–60 Montreal Canadiens   10
1960–61 Montreal Canadiens 11
1961–62 Montreal Canadiens 12
1962–63 Toronto Maple Leafs   2
1963–64 Montreal Canadiens 13
1964–65 Detroit Red Wings 13
1965–66 Montreal Canadiens   14
1966–67 Chicago Black Hawks 1

East Division regular season champions (1967–1974)Edit

Season Winner Win #
1967–68 Montreal Canadiens   15
1968–69 Montreal Canadiens   16
1969–70 Chicago Black Hawks 2
1970–71 Boston Bruins 11
1971–72 Boston Bruins   12
1972–73 Montreal Canadiens   17
1973–74 Boston Bruins 13

Wales Conference regular season champions (1974–1981)Edit

Season Winner Win #
1974–75 Buffalo Sabres 1
1975–76 Montreal Canadiens   18
1976–77 Montreal Canadiens   19
1977–78 Montreal Canadiens   20
1978–79 Montreal Canadiens   21
1979–80 Buffalo Sabres 2
1980–81 Montreal Canadiens 22

Wales Conference playoffs champions (1981–1993)Edit

Season Winner Win #
1981–82 New York Islanders   1
1982–83 New York Islanders   2
1983–84 New York Islanders 3
1984–85 Philadelphia Flyers 1
1985–86 Montreal Canadiens   23
1986–87 Philadelphia Flyers 2
1987–88 Boston Bruins 14
1988–89 Montreal Canadiens 24
1989–90 Boston Bruins 15
1990–91 Pittsburgh Penguins   1
1991–92 Pittsburgh Penguins   2
1992–93 Montreal Canadiens   25

Eastern Conference playoffs champions (1993–2020)Edit

Sidney Crosby of the 2017 Eastern Conference champion Pittsburgh Penguins poses with the Prince of Wales Trophy.
Season Winner Win #
1993–94 New York Rangers   3
1994–95 New Jersey Devils   1
1995–96 Florida Panthers 1
1996–97 Philadelphia Flyers 3
1997–98 Washington Capitals 1
1998–99 Buffalo Sabres 3
1999–2000 New Jersey Devils   2
2000–01 New Jersey Devils 3
2001–02 Carolina Hurricanes 1
2002–03 New Jersey Devils   4
2003–04 Tampa Bay Lightning   1
2004–05 Season cancelled due to the 2004–05 NHL lockout
2005–06 Carolina Hurricanes   2
2006–07 Ottawa Senators 1
2007–08 Pittsburgh Penguins 3
2008–09 Pittsburgh Penguins   4
2009–10 Philadelphia Flyers 4
2010–11 Boston Bruins   16
2011–12 New Jersey Devils 5
2012–13 Boston Bruins 17
2013–14 New York Rangers 4
2014–15 Tampa Bay Lightning 2
2015–16 Pittsburgh Penguins   5
2016–17 Pittsburgh Penguins   6
2017–18 Washington Capitals   2
2018–19 Boston Bruins 18
2019–20 Tampa Bay Lightning   3

Stanley Cup Semifinals (2020–2021)Edit

Season Winner Win #
2020–21 Tampa Bay Lightning   4

Eastern Conference playoffs champions (2021–present)Edit

Season Winner Win #
2021–22 Tampa Bay Lightning 5
2022–23 Florida Panthers 2

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ a b Refers to the original Ottawa Senators NHL franchise (1917–1934)


  1. ^ a b "Prince of Wales Trophy". Retrieved June 26, 2021.
  2. ^ "Prince of Wales Sponsors New Cup: Trophy Costing $2,500 Will Be Emblematic of National Hockey League Title". New York Times. December 7, 1925. p. 26.
  3. ^ a b McCarthy, Dave, ed. (2008). The National Hockey League Official Guide & Record Book 2009. Dan Diamond & Associates, Inc. p. 241.
  4. ^ "New York Beaten by Canadiens 3–1". The Globe. December 16, 1925. p. 10.
  5. ^ a b c Legends of "History of the Prince of Wales Trophy". Archived from the original on September 29, 2007.
  6. ^ "Lightning Win Conference Final and Touch The Trophy; No Supersitition Here". September 18, 2020.
  7. ^ Kaplan, Emily (May 28, 2011). "Conference trophies: to touch, or not to touch?". Retrieved November 12, 2011.
  8. ^ Coffey, Phil (June 2, 2006). " - Ice Age: Having another trophy in mind". Retrieved July 25, 2006.[dead link]
  9. ^ O'Donnell, Kelly (May 31, 2015). "How Real is the Wales Trophy and Campbell Bowl Jinx?". The Hockey Writers. Retrieved November 21, 2022.
  10. ^ Cotsonika, Nicholas (May 14, 2021). "Stanley Cup Playoffs: Key questions, answers". NHL.
  11. ^ "#NHLStats: Live Updates – June 10, 2021". June 10, 2021. Retrieved June 11, 2021. In addition to a spot in the Stanley Cup Final, the winner of the Golden Knights-Canadiens series will claim the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl, while the Islanders-Lightning will battle for the Prince of Wales Trophy.

External linksEdit