Ron Hextall did not deserve the Conn Smythe Trophy in 1987....there, I said it. I recently caught game seven of the '87 finals on ESPN Classic, where the Oilers beat the Flyers 3-1. Hextall was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy to the disdain and boos of the Northlands Coliseum. Hextall was (and remains) the fourth player to win the trophy in a losing cause. Even as a teenager following these playoffs as they happened, I thought this was an injustice. Upon further inspection, I believe he only won because he was a rookie, and was the "sexy" pick as opposed to the proper pick.
When looking at his numbers, it's hard to figure why he won. Hextall finished with 15 wins, 11 losses and a GAA of 2.77. Oilers, Grant Fuhr went 14 and 5 with an average of 2.46. I realize that stats cannot tell the whole story, but even if we dig further the award doesn't seem justified. His .908 Save Pct was the same as Fuhr's and tied for third behind Ken Wregget and Kelly Hrudey. Also, Hextall had nine victories in close victories (games decided by two goals or less) while Fuhr had ten such wins.
As well, 1987 proved to be the best defensive team effort for the Oilers during their dynasty, which is even more reason that Fuhr should have won the Smythe. During this post season, the Oilers allowed 2.71 goals per game. Every other post-season between 1983 and 1988, they allowed between 2.95 and 3.13 goals per game.
On top of this, Wayne Gretzky could have also been awarded the Conn Smythe on the strength of the third most assists in NHL playoff history. In 21 games, Gretzky scored only five goals but notched 29 helpers. He finished six points up on Philly's Brian Propp.
As I stated, I believe Hextall won merely because of the fact that he was a rookie. If proper consideration was given, Fuhr or Gretzky should have won the award.
Next I will look at the other three Conn Smythe winners on Cup losing teams. Reggie Leach was an easy and obvious choice in 1975, Roger Crozier in 1966 and Glenn Hall in 1968 perhaps were not so deserving....