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Oilers' McDavid wins Conn Smythe Trophy after Game 7 loss

SUNRISE — The Conn Smythe Trophy was small consolation for Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid on Monday night.
Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid (97) dumps Florida Panthers forward Eetu Luostarinen (27) against the boards as he turns with the puck during second period game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup finals in Sunrise, Fla., on Monday, June 24, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

SUNRISE — The Conn Smythe Trophy was small consolation for Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid on Monday night.

The superstar forward, crushed after his team came painfully short in a 2-1 Game 7 loss to the Florida Panthers, did not return to the ice to receive the individual award from NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.

It was the first time since 2003 that a player from the losing team was given the honour as most valuable player in the playoffs. Speaking outside his team's dressing room, a despondent McDavid offered few words when asked for his thoughts.

"It's an honour with the names on that trophy," he said.

The 27-year-old McDavid led all players with 42 points (eight goals, 34 assists) in the playoffs.

Patrick Roy is the only player to win the Conn Smythe Trophy on three occasions. Bobby Orr, Bernie Parent, Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Sidney Crosby all won it twice.

After the Oilers lost the first three games of the final, McDavid had four points (1-3) in Game 4 and four more points (2-2) in Game 5 to become the first player in Stanley Cup final history with consecutive four-point games.

McDavid's teammates were eager to trumpet his accomplishments.

"He's the greatest player to ever play, in my books," said forward Leon Draisaitl.

"He's the biggest reason we're here," added defenceman Mattias Ekholm. "He's our leader."

McDavid broke Gretzky's playoff assists record of 31 and fell five points shy of the Great One's points mark of 47 in a single post-season.

The six-foot-one 194-pound centre is the first player to have four different four-point games in a single Stanley Cup playoff run since the Oilers’ glory days of the 1980s.

Gretzky had six four-point games in the 1985 playoffs, while Paul Coffey and Jari Kurri had four apiece that same year. Mark Messier had four such games during the 1988 playoffs.

McDavid had a career-best 174 points in 101 games over the regular season and playoffs, the highest total since Lemieux had 188 points with Pittsburgh in 1995-96.

"There's really nothing you can say," Ekholm said. "It's just all positive. He's the best in the world and he's shown it on the biggest stage game in and game out."

This is the fourth consecutive season that McDavid led the NHL in points over the regular season and playoffs. It's the longest such streak since Gretzky topped the list over nine consecutive campaigns from 1979-80 (when he was tied with Marcel Dionne) through 1987-88.

"(McDavid) is our leader, he's our best player and obviously everybody wanted to win it for the team and we'd like to obviously do it (for) him, the captain of our team," said Oilers head coach Kris Knoblauch.

"I can't say enough things about what he provides: the leadership and what he does on the ice."

Jean-Sebastien Giguere of the 2003 Anaheim Mighty Ducks was the last player to win the Conn Smythe Trophy but not the Stanley Cup.

The others are Roger Crozier (Detroit Red Wings, 1966), Glenn Hall (St. Louis Blues, 1968), Reggie Leach (Philadelphia Flyers, 1976) and Ron Hextall (Philadelphia Flyers, 1987).

"There’s no player in the world that wants to win a Stanley Cup more than (McDavid)," Draisaitl said. "He does everything right, every single day, just to win it one day. It's really hard with him being sad and being disappointed at the end.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 24, 2024.

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Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press