5 Players Have Been NHL Playoff MVP Despite Not Winning the Stanley Cup
The Conn Smythe Trophy has been handed out since 1965 to the NHL’s Stanley Cup playoffs Most Valuable Player. Only five times in the 45 year history of the Conn Smythe Trophy has the award been given to a player from the Stanley Cup finalists. Only one of those five players was not a goaltender. The first time a player from the Stanley Cup losing cause won the Conn Smythe was in 1966 and the last time was 2003.
Roger Crozier of the Detroit Red Wings won the Conn Smythe in 1966 after the Red Wings lost in six games to the Montreal Canadiens. The Wings finished the regular season in fourth place out of the six NHL teams at the time. In that final series, Detroit won the first two games with Crozier in net. Roger was injured in the fourth game of the series and Montreal ended up winning four games to two.
Glenn Hall, at 37 years old and playing for the first year St. Louis Blues, won the award in 1968. The Blues finished the regular season with a record of just 27 wins, 31 losses and 16 ties in the West Division of the newly expanded NHL. St. Louis beat other first year teams Philadelphia Flyers and Minnesota North Stars before meeting the Montreal Canadiens in the Stanley Cup finals. The Blues fought hard against the Canadiens and the four games to none result wasn’t wholly reflective of the level of competition between the two teams.
Reggie Leach won the Conn Smythe in 1976 after his Philadelphia Flyers fell to the Montreal Canadiens in the Stanley Cup final. Leach scored 19 goals in just 16 games and was charged with only four minor penalties on a team that was still coined the ‘Broad Street Bullies’. Reggie Leach is the only non-goaltender to win the Conn Smythe while on the losing end of the Stanley Cup final.
Ron Hextall won the award in 1987, his rookie season in the NHL. The Stanley Cup finals featured the two best teams from each conference, the Flyers and the Edmonton Oilers. The series went to seven games before Wayne Gretzky and the Oilers finally eliminated Philadelphia. Hextall ended the playoffs with a Goals Against Average of 2.77 and a save percentage of .908. Those numbers aren’t too spectacular in today’s game but in the high flying 1980’s, they were amazing. Hextall also had two shutouts and an ‘unbelievable for a goalie’ 43 penalty minutes.
Jean-Sebastien Giguere wowed everyone in the 2003 Stanley Cup playoffs as he led his Anaheim Mighty Ducks to the finals against the New Jersey Devils before losing in seven games. Giguere had a GAA of 1.62 and save percentage of .945 throughout the playoffs. He ended up with less total losses than New Jersey’s goalie, Martin Brodeur.