Conn Smythe Trophy
|Given for||"most valuable player for his team" in the National Hockey League playoffs|
|First award||1964–65 NHL season|
|Most recent||Justin Williams|
The Conn Smythe Trophy is awarded annually to the player judged most valuable to his team (MVP) during the National Hockey League's (NHL) Stanley Cup playoffs. The Conn Smythe Trophy has been awarded 48 times to 42 players since the 1964–65 NHL season. Each year, at the conclusion of the final game of the Stanley Cup Finals, members of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association vote to elect the player deserving of the trophy. The trophy is handed out prior to the presentation of the Stanley Cup by the NHL commissioner and only the winner is announced, in contrast to most of the other NHL awards which name three finalists and are presented at a ceremony.
Unlike the playoff MVP awards presented in the other major professional sports leagues of the United States and Canada (the Super Bowl MVP, the NBA Finals MVP, and the World Series MVP), the Conn Smythe is based on the entire NHL postseason instead of just the championship game or series.
The Conn Smythe Trophy was introduced in 1964 by Maple Leaf Gardens Limited to honor Conn Smythe, the former owner, General Manager, and coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs and a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame as a builder. The trophy's design is similar to Maple Leaf Gardens, the arena in which the Maple Leafs played their home games from 1931 to 1999, with a botanically-correct maple leaf further embellishing it as well.
The first winner of the award was center Jean Béliveau of the Montreal Canadiens in 1965. The first player and only defenseman to win it twice was Bobby Orr, who scored the Cup-clinching goals in 1970 and 1972. Goaltender Bernie Parent and centers Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux have also won it twice, with Parent and Lemieux each winning theirs back to back (1974/1975 and 1991/1992 respectively). Goaltender Patrick Roy is the only player to win the trophy three times, and also the only player to win it as a member of two different teams; his wins also fall into three different decades. 1971 winner Ken Dryden remains the only NHL player to ever win the trophy before winning the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year, due to being called up by the Montreal Canadiens and only playing six regular season games, which is not enough to qualify as a rookie season. Dave Keon's eight playoff points in 1967 is the fewest ever by a non-goalie Conn Smythe winner, as he was a defensive forward and is the only Maple Leafs player to win the trophy donated by his club's parent company.
Though the award covers the entirety of the playoffs, it has never been given to a player whose team did not at least reach the Finals. The trophy has been awarded to members of the team that lost the Finals five times, the most recent being Jean-Sébastien Giguère of the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in 2003, who backstopped his team on a surprise run to the Finals where they pushed the New Jersey Devils to seven games. The only non-goaltender to win the award in a losing cause is the Philadelphia Flyers' Reggie Leach, who won it in 1976 as he had set a league record for most goals in the playoffs (19), which included a five-goal game in the semi-finals and four goals in the Finals series, even though his team was swept by the Canadiens.
With seven exceptions, the winners of the Conn Smythe Trophy have all been Canadian. The seven non-Canadian winners are Americans Brian Leetch, who won it in 1994, Tim Thomas in 2011, Jonathan Quick in 2012, and Patrick Kane in 2013; Russian Evgeni Malkin, who won it in 2009; and Swedes Nicklas Lidstrom and Henrik Zetterberg, who won it in 2002 and 2008, respectively.
Only three players have won the Conn Smythe Trophy and the Hart Memorial Trophy for most valuable player during the regular season in the same year: Orr in 1970 and 1972, Guy Lafleur in 1977 and Gretzky in 1985. These three players have also won the Art Ross Trophy as regular season leading scorer, while Orr also won the James Norris Trophy as top defenceman to give him a record four individual original NHL awards in 1970.
The trophy had been won sixteen times each by centers and goaltenders, nine times by defensemen, seven times by right wings, and just once by a left wing (Bob Gainey of Montreal in 1979). It has been won nine times by Canadiens players, five times by Detroit Red Wings players, and four times by Edmonton Oilers, Flyers, and New York Islanders players. The St. Louis Blues are the only team without a Stanley Cup victory to have a Conn Smythe Trophy winner, as Glenn Hall won in 1968.
Player is still active in the NHL
Player was a member of the defeated team in the Stanley Cup Finals
- No winner due to the 2004–05 NHL lockout
- Retroactive Conn Smythe, a list, established by hockey historians, of probable winners of the Conn Smythe Trophy for each of the years it was not officially awarded: from 1917–18 to 1963–64
- List of National Hockey League awards
- List of Stanley Cup champions
- List of NHL statistical leaders