Oh, what's that? The Western Conference is still better than the Eastern Conference?— jer (@JerMeansWell) June 25, 2013
Obviously we all know that the Western Conference is a much more difficult conference to play in. The competition is better, the travel is harder, and it houses California, the best state in the nation and the home of hockey. We know that the Western Conference is just better, but can we prove it? Let's take a look at all of the Stanley Cup champions since the 1993-94 season, when Eastern/Western first replaced Wales/Campbell (Eastern Conference in red, Western in blue):
|1994||New York Rangers||4–3|
|1995||New Jersey Devils||4–0|
|1997||Detroit Red Wings||4–0|
|1998||Detroit Red Wings||4–0|
|2000||New Jersey Devils||4–2|
|2002||Detroit Red Wings||4–1|
|2003||New Jersey Devils||4–3|
|2004||Tampa Bay Lightning||4–3|
|2008||Detroit Red Wings||4–2|
|2012||Los Angeles Kings||4–2|
Wow, that sure is a lot of blue. The Western Conference has produced a champion 11 times to the Eastern Conference's 8. In other words, the Western Conference proves what we already know to be true nearly 60% of the time.
You can break it down to pre or post 2004-05 lockout, and the Western comes out on top either way. No matter how the game evolves, the Western Conference teams adapt and outshine their weaker Eastern Conference counterparts.
Maybe it's just a fluke and the Western Conference teams have just gotten really lucky in the playoffs? Let's glance at the regular season results. For the same timeframe as above, here are the Presidents' Trophy winners for each season:
|1994||New York Rangers||112|
|1995||Detroit Red Wings||70|
|1996||Detroit Red Wings||131|
|2000||St. Louis Blues||114|
|2002||Detroit Red Wings||116|
|2004||Detroit Red Wings||109|
|2006||Detroit Red Wings||124|
|2008||Detroit Red Wings||115|
|2009||San Jose Sharks||117|
The Western Conference beats out the Eastern Conference 15 times to 4, or nearly 80% of the time.
When you look at how pathetic the Eastern Conference is, and how it clearly lacks the heart and discipline it takes to be champions, it's pretty shocking. The East-Coast bias of the NHL and hockey media that we know all too well is likely just an attempt to keep the illusion that they have a competitive conference worthy of NHL play out East, but you can't argue with fact.
You can't really blame teams like the Red Wings for wanting to bail on the Western Conference. Just as Detroit is in a performance decline, they're able to join a weaker conference where they can once again be seen as a dominant force. But is there any honor in that? Any random ECHL team could surely be a dominant force in the Eastern Conference; that doesn't mean they play good hockey.
Nonetheless, congratulations to the 2013 Stanley Cup Champions, Chicago Blackhawks, as well as their fans.
And congratulations to the Western Conference, which has once again proved to be the far superior force in the NHL.