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Conn Smythe Trophy

The Conn Smythe Trophy is awarded annually to the most valuable player (MVP) during the NHL’s Stanley Cup playoffs. It is named after Conn Smythe, the longtime owner, general manager, and head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Each year, at the conclusion of the final game of the Stanley Cup Final, 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, the MLS Cup MVP and the World Series MVP), the Conn Smythe is based on a player’s performance during the entire NHL postseason instead of just the championship game or series.

Jonathan Marchessault Vegas Golden Knights Conn Smythe Trophy 2023
Jonathan Marchessault of the Vegas Golden Knights holds the Conn Smythe Trophy after Game 5 of the 2023 NHL Stanley Cup Final (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)
Can the Conn Smythe Go to a Player on a Losing Team?

Yes – but rarely. It’s only happened five times in the 50+ year history of the trophy and no times since J.S. Giguere in 2003.

These are the losing team Smythe winners:

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Conn Smythe Trophy Winners

1965Jean BeliveauMontreal Canadiens
1966Roger CrozierDetroit Red Wings
1967Dave KeonToronto Maple Leafs
1968Glenn HallSt. Louis Blues
1969Serge SavardMontreal Canadiens
1970Bobby OrrBoston Bruins
1971Ken DrydenMontreal Canadiens
1972Bobby OrrBoston Bruins
1973Yvan CournoyerMontreal Canadiens
1974Bernie ParentPhiladelphia Flyers
1975Bernie ParentPhiladelphia Flyers
1976Reggie LeachPhiladelphia Flyers
1977Guy LafleurMontreal Canadiens
1978Larry RobinsonMontreal Canadiens
1979Bob GaineyMontreal Canadiens
1980Bryan TrottierNew York Islanders
1981Butch GoringNew York Islanders
1982Mike BossyNew York Islanders
1983Billy SmithNew York Islanders
1984Mark MessierEdmonton Oilers
1985Wayne GretzkyEdmonton Oilers
1986Patrick RoyMontreal Canadiens
1987Ron HextallPhiladelphia Flyers
1988Wayne GretzkyEdmonton Oilers
1989Al MacInnisCalgary Flames
1990Bill RanfordEdmonton Oilers
1991Mario LemieuxPittsburgh Penguins
1992Mario LemieuxPittsburgh Penguins
1993Patrick RoyMontreal Canadiens
1994Brian LeetchNew York Rangers
1995Claude LemieuxNew Jersey Devils
1996Joe SakicColorado Avalanche
1997Mike VernonDetroit Red Wings
1998Steve YzermanDetroit Red Wings
1999Joe NieuwendykDallas Stars
2000Scott StevensNew Jersey Devils
2001Patrick RoyColorado Avalanche
2002Nicklas LidstromDetroit Red Wings
2003Jean-Sebastien GiguereMighty Ducks of Anaheim
2004Brad RichardsTampa Bay Lightning
2005No winner due to the 2004–05 NHL lockout
2006Cam WardCarolina Hurricanes
2007Scott NiedermayerAnaheim Ducks
2008Henrik ZetterbergDetroit Red Wings
2009Evgeni MalkinPittsburgh Penguins
2010Jonathan ToewsChicago Blackhawks
2011Tim ThomasBoston Bruins
2012Jonathan QuickLos Angeles Kings
2013Patrick KaneChicago Blackhawks
2014Justin WilliamsLos Angeles Kings
2015Duncan KeithChicago Blackhawks
2016Sidney CrosbyPittsburgh Penguins
2017Sidney CrosbyPittsburgh Penguins
2018Alexander OvechkinWashington Capitals
2019Ryan O’ReillySt. Louis Blues
2020Victor HedmanTampa Bay Lightning
2021Andrei VasilevskiyTampa Bay Lightning
2022Cale MakarColorado Avalanche
2023Jonathan MarchessaultVegas Golden Knights

Some History

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 centerpiece of the trophy is a stylized silver replica of Maple Leaf Gardens, the arena built under Smythe’s ownership of the Maple Leafs, and their home from 1931 to 1999. Backing the arena replica is a large silver botanically-accurate maple leaf. The arena replica and leaf are set atop a square wooden foundation, the front of which bears a dedication plaque. Additional tiers below the foundation, sloping outward, contain maple leaf-shaped plates bearing the inscriptions of the winners’ names.

The base of the Conn Smythe Trophy has been expanded twice over the years to accommodate more winners. 

Guy Lafleur #10 of the Montreal Canadiens
Guy Lafleur of the Montreal Canadiens 1976 (Photo by Denis Brodeur/NHLI via Getty Images)