When should your team hang a banner?
The Nashville Predators opened their home schedule on Tuesday night with a 3-0 loss to the Calgary Flames. Before the game they did all of the usual pre-game festivities that teams do at the start of the season. They introduced the roster (including forward Austin Watson, even though he is currently serving a 27-game suspension), and as a team that won a couple of things the previous year (the Presidents’ Trophy, the Central Division) they raised some banners to the rafters of Bridgestone Arena.
Along with the the banners for the Presidents’ Trophy and Central Division, there was a third banner to ascend to the rafters.
The “Regular Season Western Conference Champions” banner.
That one was immediately the butt of many jokes on social media and drew plenty of ridicule because ... well ... that’s not really a thing, and it’s not usually something that teams hang a banner for. It has been done, of course, (the Detroit Red Wings have one hanging in their rafters; as did at one time the Washington Capitals for the Eastern Conference), but it’s also been greeted with ridicule then as well.
So let’s get to the bottom of this and answer a question of, quite literally, zero importance but one that is still causing some debate: What accomplishments are worthy of raising a banner for and celebrating?
The easy and obvious answer here is that if it’s your team you can do whatever you want and whatever you think your fans will enjoy and appreciate. If it happens to be a team that, traditionally, has not won much of significance any new accomplishment is going to be something you want to celebrate. In other words, it’s your team and you should do you.
But everyone else is going to have an opinion on that, which is what brings us to ... this.
And I think that’s why, for me, the Predators hanging this one is a little odd. They’re not a team that hasn’t had success. They’re not a team that has been void of celebratory moments. They’ve won the Western Conference in the playoffs and played for the Stanley Cup. They won the Presidents’ trophy. They won the Central Division. They have real accomplishments that are worthy of raising a banner for without having to reach for something that, again, isn’t really a thing that anyone pays attention to or cares about.
So what are banner worthy moments that will escape ridicule and scorn?
You get a Trophy, raise that banner
1. The Stanley Cup: No explanation needed.
2. The Presidents’ Trophy: Respect the Presidents’ Trophy. Respect it. Stop treating it like it’s a joke. Stop thinking of it as if it is some sort of curse. This is not only an accomplishment worthy of celebrating, it is in some way an even better indicator of a team’s ability than what happens in the playoffs, where luck and randomness or a poorly timed injury or two can ruin everything.
Being the best team in the league over 82 games is an incredible accomplishment and something that you should absolutely celebrate. Especially since it is just as difficult to win as the Stanley Cup. Just remember that since the Presidents’ Trophy was first handed out in 1985-86 it’s only been won by 17 different teams. Over that same stretch 16 different teams have won the Stanley Cup. It’s an accomplishment. It is rare. Appreciate the difficulty of it. Appreciate the accomplishment. Hang the banner.
3. Conference Championship in the playoffs: Again, it’s a Trophy, and an extremely difficult one to win because you not only have to get through the two-month grind that is the playoffs after a grueling regular season, but you also need a lot of stuff to go your way, from health, to some bounces, to just playing well at the right time of year.
Do you know what else you should do with this trophy?
You should touch it. You should pick it up. You should hold it. You could even, if you wanted, pass around the ice from player to player (it has been done!).
Anytime someone hands you a trophy, celebrate it.
Also acceptable, but not necessary
4. Division championship: It’s still an accomplishment and worthy of recognition because you were better than the other random collection of teams that the league has grouped you in with to play most often. You don’t get a physical trophy, but it’s still an acceptable banner worthy moment. Ideally it’s one banner with each year added to it.
You can do it if you want, but people will laugh
5. Regular season conference championship: If you wanted you could make the argument that it’s kind of similar to winning the division in that you were better than the rest of the teams in your conference, but you don’t really get any sort of advantage out of it until you get to the Conference Final, you don’t get a trophy for it, and nobody ever points to having the best record in the conference as some sort of bragging rights. It’s just ... whatever.
Never do this
This is the one time I will laugh at your banner.
You already raised your banner for that team, Edmonton. You already raised your banner.
These rankings are official.