Conn Smythe Winners, for $500, Alex.

Who was the only non-goalie to win a Conn Smythe trophy in a losing effort?

So its pretty much a given that if PIT wins this series, the Conn Smythe goes to Crosby/Malkin, with Malkin leading right now. No matter what happens in the next three games, short of Crosby and Malkin both being abducted by aliens, no one else on the Penguins can possibly win the Conn Smythe. The interesting discussion is what happens to the Conn Smythe if the Wings win it.

The Conn Smythe has been awarded 33 times, if I just counted correctly. 5 times it has gone to a player on the losing end of the Cup Final series. Four of those recipients have been goaltenders (Giguere 2003, Hextall 1987, Hall 1968, Crozier 1966). Only one player has ever won the Conn Smythe as the playoffs MVP in a losing effort, and not been a goaltender. That player is Philadelphia Flyer Reggie Leach, in 1976.

Leach actually won it as his Flyers were swept in the Cup Final by the Montreal Canadiens. Leach finished that postseason with 19 goals scored, a record that has since been tied by Jari Kurri. Leach had 19 goals, but of those 19 goals, 5 of them came in one game against the Boston Bruins earlier in the playoffs, and he only had 24 points total. He had 4 goals in the final, of Philadelphia’s total 9. 19 goals in a playoff is a hell of a number, but when you take out that 5 goal game, you’re looking at 14-5-19 in 15 games. Still a solid year, but hardly worthy of a losing-team Conn Smythe trophy, I don’t think. I also don’t know how many assists might have come in that 5-goal game, so his points total sans that game might be less.

Could Malkin or Crosby win the Conn Smythe this year in a losing effort? As Mirtle says, they’ve certainly had some pretty historic years. The question then arises, should they? I’m not so sure on that. They’re certainly more deserving than some past winners in losing efforts. But I have a hard time seeing handing out the trophy to one of those guys when the other has just as good of a case for it, and they’re on the same team, especially if the two of them come up short. Combined with the advantageous matchups that I believe the Penguins played (no way do they put up those numbers against some of the better defensive teams in the league), I find it harder to justify awarding the MVP to either of those guys.
On the Wings, I can see only a couple of players who could potentially earn the Conn Smythe: Johan Franzen (22 pts), Henrik Zetterberg (22 pts), Chris Osgood (2.29 GGA 0.924 SV%), and Nicklas Lidstrom (13 points, +9, general workhorse). Of course, I think it should be given to Darren Helm, but I’m not really grounded in reality. Of those, I’m thinking Henrik or Franzen is the front runner based on their point totals and sizable contributions all around. Lidstrom is probably in the mix, but I think the Wings’ defense as a whole dings him down a little bit here. To me, the most interesting choice here is Osgood.
Chris Osgood is already in the top 10 in all-time goaltender wins. If he continues to play another couple years in the league, he could definitely get into the top 8, and could very possibly end his career at #5-7. His 2.47 career GAA is good, but not great. His .906 SV% is fairly average. He currently sits in #8 in terms of all-time playoff wins at 73. A cup win gets him to 75, and he certainly could make it to the top 5 all-time, if he were to hit 88 in his career. He has a 2.11 GAA, one of the best in the modern era, and a .916 SV%. One of my favorite bloggers, the Contrarian Goaltender, will point out how Chris Osgood is a product of a team philosophy, and while I pretty much agree with him, I think there is certainly some amount of recognition due for the guy for what he is.
He has been a pretty consistent guy, though he’s certainly had his moments (and this past regular season was one of them). He’s been pretty durable, lasting in this league for 15 years. He’s redeveloped his style to stay in the game when it was clear he was on the way out. Hell, he even scored a goal. He’s received very little in the way of individual accolades and recognition. In a year where everyone pissed on him, where everyone (including myself) thought he was going to be the reason the Wings came up short in their quest to repeat, he stood up and had perhaps his best individual playoff yet, should he finally get some of that recognition? In the absence of any clear-cut 100% favorites amongst the Wings, should they win this series, could the Conn Smythe be awarded as more of a lifetime achievement award to Chris Osgood?
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