Sports

The Habs Winning The 'Campbell Bowl' Is Truly Historic — Here's Why

We explained the Campbell Bowl's significance & why no players would touch it.
Montreal Canadiens Winning The Campbell Bowl Is Truly Historic

After a stress-inducing Game 6 at the Bell Centre on June 24, the Montreal Canadiens won the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl for the first time in the team's 112-year history.

But what exactly is the Campbell Bowl? Why is it so historic that the Habs won it? And why would no one on the team touch the trophy? 

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What is the Campbell Bowl & how did the Habs win it?

Clarence Campbell was the president of the NHL between 1946 and 1977, the longest run of all executives in any sport.

The Campbell Bowl is a sterling-silver trophy named after him. It is presented annually "to the Western Conference team that advances to the Stanley Cup Final."

While the Canadiens typically play out of the Eastern conference, the pandemic caused the NHL to rejig its conferences and realign its teams into four new divisions.

As a result, the NHL decided that the winner of the Montreal Canadiens versus Vegas Golden Knights series would get the Campbell Bowl while the winner of the Tampa Bay Lightning versus New York Islanders series would get the Prince of Wales trophy, which typically goes to the Eastern Conference playoff winner.

Why is this victory so historic? 

Not only is the fact that the Canadiens were contenders for the Campbell Bowl historic, but it's also a monumental victory for another reason. 

Clarence Campbell himself once contributed to a Montreal riot that caused the Habs to forfeit a game. 

On March 13, 1955, Montreal hockey legend Maurice "Rocket" Richard was high-sticked in the head by the Boston Bruins' Hal Laycoe. When the Bruins' Cliff Thompson intervened in the ensuing fight, Richard punched him in the face, causing him to bleed from his eye and rendering him unconscious.

Campbell made the decision to suspend Richard for the last three games in the regular season, as well as the playoffs — and his decision came to a head the following game against the Detroit Red Wings. 

When Campbell arrived at the Montreal Forum on March 15, 1955, a tear gas bomb went off, forcing an angry Montreal crowd to spill out onto Rue Sainte-Catherine.

The Habs had to forfeit the game to Detroit after one period.

Fires were lit, glass was shattered and people were injured, causing Richard to broadcast a message to Montrealers the next day, saying that he would accept the punishment in an effort to stop the riots.

From the "Richard Riots" to the Campbell Bowl, this feels like a full-circle moment. 

Why wouldn't the Habs touch the trophy? 

Whether or not to touch the Campbell Bowl is a tradition rooted in superstition. The idea is that players touching the trophy could determine which team wins or loses the Stanley Cup Final.

According to NHL.com, "Since 2006 only the Golden Knights in 2018 touched the bowl, and they lost the Cup Final in five games to the Washington Capitals." 

Meanwhile, the Tampa Bay Lightning opted to touch the Prince of Wales Trophy.

Which team made the right choice? We'll find out when the two teams face off. The Stanley Cup Final begins Monday, June 28 at 8 p.m.