“It sucks”: Connor McDavid joins exclusive Conn Smythe Trophy club after Oilers lose Stanley Cup

NHL: Stanley Cup Final-Edmonton Oilers at Florida Panthers
Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

It’s safe to say Connor McDavid would’ve traded one trophy for another. But the Edmonton Oilers superstar captain was named the Conn Smythe Trophy winner as MVP of the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Monday night, despite his team losing the Stanley Cup Final in seven games to the Florida Panthers, who captured Game 7 by a 2-1 score.

McDavid and the Oilers came up just short of a historic reverse sweep in the Cup Final after rallying back from a 3-0 series deficit. However, they never led in Game 7, falling behind 1-0 on Carter Verhaeghe’s goal 4:27 into the first period, tying it 2:17 later on a Mattias Janmark goal and then surrendering the Stanley Cup-winning goal by Sam Reinhart at 15:11 of the second period.

“It sucks. It sucks,” McDavid said after the Game 7 loss.

McDavid joined an exclusive group, winning the Conn Smythe Trophy despite Edmonton’s loss in the Final.

He is just the sixth player in NHL history to win the Conn Smythe in a losing effort and just the second skater, joining Reggie Leach of the Philadelphia Flyers, who won it in 1976. Those two join goalies Jean-Sebastian Giguere (2003, Mighty Ducks of Anaheim), Ron Hextall (1987, Flyers), Glenn Hall (1968, St. Louis Blues) and Roger Crozier (1966, Detroit Red Wings) in the exclusive group.

After leading the handshake line for the Oilers, McDavid waited by the Oilers runway to the their dressing room to greet each of his teammates. He didn’t return to the ice to accept the Conn Smythe Trophy from NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.

Related: Why Connor McDavid didn’t want to join this exclusive Conn Smythe club

Connor McDavid 6th player from losing team in NHL to win Conn Smythe Trophy

NHL: Stanley Cup Final-Edmonton Oilers at Florida Panthers
Credit: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

It’s a rare achievement, but one that is very much deserved.

McDavid set an NHL record with 34 assists in a single postseason, breaking the record of 31 held by Wayne Gretzky for 36 years. His 42 points rank fourth all-time for the most in a single postseason run, behind only Gretzky (47 in 1984-85; 43 in 1987-88) and Mario Lemieux (44 in 1990-91).

If that wasn’t enough history, McDavid became the first player to record four points in consecutive Stanley Cup Final games, doing so in Games 4 and 5 against the Panthers.

It’s safe to say he passed the eye test, blowing by some of the League’s best defenders and making them look silly with moves that very few people on the planet can successfully pull off during these playoffs.

The argument could be made that McDavid didn’t deliver when Edmonton needed him most. In the deciding Game 7, the League’s best player was held scoreless with just two shots on goal. That followed Game 6, which the Oilers won 5-1, though McDavid was also held off the score sheet.

Still, it’s hard to even picture the Oilers in a Game 7 without McDavid’s heroic effort. Edmonton became just the third team in NHL history to force Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Final after trailing the series 3-0. They mounted a comeback largely on the back of McDavid, who’s consecutive four-point performances willed them to back-to-back wins and got the series back to Edmonton for Game 6.

When you put it all together, it’s one of the greatest singular postseason efforts in NHL history. And while the Conn Smythe is typically reserved for a player from the winning team, in this instance, it was very much deserved that one from the losing side earned the honor.

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