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STANLEY CUP FINALS

MVP Aside, Giguere Simply Devastated

June 10, 2003|Lisa Dillman | Times Staff Writer

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The objects in their able hands said it all.

For Mighty Duck goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere, it wasn't as though the shiny trophy he received was the wrong one. But the Conn Smythe Trophy -- given to the most valuable player in the postseason -- happened to be the only one in his hands Monday night after the New Jersey Devils beat the Ducks, 3-0, in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals.

Shortly after hoisting the Stanley Cup for the third time in his career, New Jersey goalie Martin Brodeur had other accouterments to celebrate the accomplishment. A cigar was in his right hand, a bottle of champagne in the other.

So, what's better, the cigar or the champagne?

"No, winning the Stanley Cup," Brodeur said.

It was only the fifth time in NHL history that a player from the losing team won the Conn Smythe. The award is voted on by 15 members from the Professional Hockey Writers Assn.

When the winner, Giguere, was announced by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, there was strenuous booing from the sellout crowd of 19,040 at Continental Airlines Arena, wondering how Brodeur, with his single-season record seven playoff shutouts, could have been shut out.

The wounded Giguere may have been the saddest winner of the Conn Smythe. He was teary-eyed on the ice and visibly emotional in his postgame news conferences. It went beyond losing the Stanley Cup. He was trying to win it for his ill mother, Gisele, who was watching from the family home in Blainville, Canada, about 30 miles from Montreal.

"Well, I'm pretty sad," Giguere said. "This is obvious. My main reason to win the Stanley Cup was for my mom tonight. She's been watching every game at home. She lives for that, and she's not doing too well right now. I would have really liked to win that for her. It was in the back of my mind the whole time.

"I'm sure that she'll be up, and it's just part of the game. Tomorrow is a new day and I'll get up and be happy again. We're just going to move on."

It was reported by Sports Illustrated last month that his mother is suffering from Alzheimer's disease, but Giguere has declined to confirm that. Members of the hockey community have been aware of the situation, and Dallas goaltender Marty Turco made a point to offer encouragement to Giguere after the Star-Duck series.

"She's very excited," Giguere said. "That's all she's waiting for, every two days, to watch the game. It's not been easy [the Ducks] being on the West Coast, for her to watch. She just loves to watch the game."

Voters had a difficult choice. Giguere was 15-6 in 21 games, with a 1.62 goals-against average, a .945 save percentage and five shutouts. He went 7-0 in overtime, and made 63 saves in the Ducks' triple-overtime victory over the Red Wings in Game 1 of the first round.

The other members of losing teams in the Cup finals to win the Conn Smythe were goaltender Ron Hextall of the Flyers in 1987, right wing Reggie Leach of the Flyers in 1976, goaltender Glenn Hall of the Blues in 1968 and Red Wing goaltender Roger Crozier in 1966.

Brodeur didn't dispute the decision.

"You know, it's kind of easy when you win the Cup to be satisfied about it," he said. "I'm sure if I lost, it would have been a little harder on me. But knowing that I have the Stanley Cup, I'm not worried about the Conn Smythe. He deserves it."

The Conn Smythe recognition was bittersweet for Giguere.

"Like I said, this is not the one you want and you want the big silver one," he said. "That's the one you are aiming for. This one is just the dressing on the cake -- or whatever you say -- the icing on the cake."

Giguere, however, managed to look beyond the crushing loss in Game 7.

"It's disappointing," he said. "It's not going to be the same. In a couple of weeks, I've got my wedding to look forward to, and it's going to be a great day for me. It's going to be the best day of my life."

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Conn Smythe Winners

*--* Goalies who have been the most valuable players in Stanley Cup playoffs. Bold face indicates goalie was on losing team in Stanley Cup finals: GOALIES 2003--Jean-Sebastien Giguere, Ducks 2001--Patrick Roy, Colorado Avalanche 1997--Mike Vernon, Detroit Red Wings 1993--Patrick Roy, Montreal Canadiens 1990--Bill Ranford, Edmonton Oilers 1987--Ron Hextall, Philadelphia Flyers 1986--Patrick Roy, Montreal Canadiens 1975--Bernie Parent, Philadelphia Flyers 1974--Bernie Parent, Philadelphia Flyers 1971--Ken Dryden, Montreal Canadiens 1968--Glenn Hall, St. Louis Blues 1966--Roger Crozier, Detroit Red Wings

*--*

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