Was the Smythe Award a Conn job?
Martin Brodeur’s Stanley Cup winning and historical playoff performance wasn’t enough to win him the Conn Smyth trophy.
Was it a Conn job for the NHL to enhance the sale value for one of its “available” teams by awarding the MVP to the second best goalie in the playoffs?
Below is an article I found on the subject.
Please review the essay and debate the issue. IF the vote that granted the Conn Smythe Trophy to J-S Giguere proves anything, it’s that the award’s definition should be changed so future balloting is conducted to select not the MVP of the Stanley Cup playoffs, but rather the MVP of the Finals. Until this year, that always had been understood to represent the spirit of the award.
Giguere had a terrific tournament, and the Mighty Ducks obviously would not have emerged from the West without him. But does anyone believe the Devils would have gotten out of the East without Martin Brodeur or Scott Stevens? Does anyone believe the 1998 Caps would have made it to the Finals without Olaf Kolzig, or the 1999 Sabres would have made it to the Finals without Dominik Hasek? Neither dominant goaltender won the award after losing the Finals. For that matter, does anyone believe this year’s Wild would have won a round, let alone two, without Marian Gaborik?
Since when did the, “They wouldn’t have been here without him,” theory determine the winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy? Since this year, apparently. Since the hype on Giguere that somehow attached “greatest ever” status to his playoff feats, as if Ken Dryden’s 1971, Bernie Parent’s 1974, Bill Smith’s 1983 and Patrick Roy’s 1993 championship performances never happened. Since when does a goaltender outplayed in the Finals – decisively in four losses – get to be MVP? Since this year.
Majority opinion of the 15-member voting panel of the Pro Hockey Writers Association – four writers from Anaheim/LA, four from New York/New Jersey, seven at-large – as informally sampled Saturday was so steadfastly behind Giguere, he would have won the award had the Mighty Ducks lost in six. I know of writers from the West Coast – and perhaps others – who believed Giguere’s speech to his team between Games 2 and 3 met the criteria for the award. Too bad for Stevens he didn’t broadcast all of his speeches to his teammates.
Of course, among that group of journalists are at least some who tried to charge me with having invented Michael Eisner’s “We’ll win in six,” proclamation following Game 4. That underhanded movement – I supposedly was trying to fire up the Devils, a part of my job description I am quite certain will come as a great surprise to Lou Lamoriello and Pat Burns – was scuttled upon the discovery and playback of an audio tape of Daffy Duck’s words.
I didn’t have a vote for the trophy. If I did, I would have been torn between Brodeur, Stevens and Scott Niedermayer, who had one of the great Finals and greatest Game 7′s of any defenseman, ever. When I wrote following Saturday’s game that Brodeur’s sub-par Game 6 cost him any chance at the Smythe, that wasn’t a reflection of my belief about his worthiness, but a read of the electorate. Three shutouts in the Finals plus another 60-minute scoreless performance; a 1.73 GAA in the Finals; seven shutouts in the playoffs? They didn’t count? I sure think they do.
This shouldn’t be interpreted as an assault against Giguere, who was other-worldly the first three rounds. But the fact remains that in the Finals he allowed 19 goals in seven games, 14 goals in four one-sided losses, to a club that had neither Trottier and Bossy nor Gretzky and Kurri (not to mention Nieuwendyk) in the lineup.
Indeed, Giguere posted a 2.53 GAA against the Devils, not so much better than Nikolai Khabibulin’s 3.00 against them in Round Two, a performance that got the goaltender benched for Game 5, even though the Lightning wouldn’t have made it past the Caps without him.