One of the nice things about the NY Times' hockey blog is that it gives us a lot of Jeff Z. Klein, with whom I once had a cliche-off at a Rangers game:
"It’s a shame that despite this sterling record, many regard the Wings as a disappointment because they haven’t won a Stanley Cup in this period. (They won their last Cup in 2001-02, six years ago.) That’s a result of the constant denigration of the regular season by commentators, coaches, players, fans and even the league itself. There is no reward for coming in first beyond winning the President’s Trophy and getting an extra home game in the playoffs, and the former is considered a waste of precious effort by the majority of fans in the US and Canada.I'm all in favor of this -- although it would require North American sports fans to have a more European attitude towards being at the top of the table. But it's worth recognizing the effort of the teams that show up for -- and try to win -- that otherwise meaningless-seeming game in February, which was maybe the only one you could afford to go to all year.
Until the league makes winning the regular-season championship a real honor with attendant rewards nearly equal to winning the Stanley Cup itself, people will continue to discount the Red Wings’ perennial October-to-April excllence as an effete, meaningless exercise instead of recognizing it for the amazing achievement it actually is."
Maybe it's as simple as allowing clubs only to hang banners that commemorate a Cup or a Presidents' Trophy. Flags fly forever, after all.
(N.B. A balanced schedule would be essential if the Prez. Trophy were to be meaningful.)