Conn Smythe Or Bust
|THE CANADIAN PRESS FILE PHOTO|
|For starters, the Hart Trophy doesn't get this type of reaction.|
It's an interesting debate - what has more value, the Hart Trophy or the Conn Smythe Trophy.
To be sure, more prestige has been associated with the Hart over the years, perhaps because it recognizes excellence over an 82-game schedule, and perhaps because it includes candidates - at least in theory - from 30 teams.
The Conn Smythe, by contrast, is chosen from one of two teams, the Cup finalists, after a two-month elimination tournament.
Which would you rather win?
Alex Ovechkin, you have to believe, is going to be named this year's Hart winner, although its fair to say the playoffs exposed his, uh, lack of enthusiasm for defensive play compared to his over-the-top exuberance when it comes to goal-scoring.
And the Conn Smythe? It's a little trickier this spring because of the roller coaster nature of the final in which even the best performers have had their down moments.
Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin, for example, nearly got himself suspended for his late-game shenanigans in Game 2 when he jumped Henrik Zetterberg.
At other times, he has been utterly unstoppable.
He would be the favourite for the Conn Smythe if Pittsburgh wins, although you'd have to take a long look at goalie Marc-Andre Fleury if he comes up big tonight.
If Detroit wins, it could be either goaltender Chris Osgood or Henrik Zetterberg, again depending on what happens tonight.
The Game 7 situation makes this even more intriguing. A panel of members from the Professional Hockey Writers Association will make the choice, but if the game is close to the final minutes, its going to be difficult to get the vote in early enough to be able to announce it immediately after the game on the ice.
Could be a big day for hockey in many ways. The crowning of a new champion, the recognition of a new playoff warrior and - cringe factor large here for Gary Bettman - a big decision on the proposed movement of the Phoenix Coyotes to Hamilton.