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Tim Thomas

DARRYL DYCK

For anyone asking about Conn Smythe voting procedures, the usual protocol to select the NHL playoff MVP is this:

Most years, between 12 and 15 members of the Professional Hockey Writers cast ballots. It's generally three voters per representative city in the final - three Boston writers, three Vancouver writers in other words - and then the rest of the votes are divided among writers who have covered most or all of the playoffs up to that point. In the case of a Game 7, the ballot looks different - and writers are usually given an either/or situation. If Vancouver wins, my three choices are ... If Boston wins, my three choices are ...

Ballots are usually collected as time winds down so that the announcement can be made on the ice prior to the awarding of the Stanley Cup. I remember in 2003, before the New Jersey Devils-Anaheim Ducks' final, about six of us who'd been designated as voters were all sitting next to each other in the press room before the start of the game and we talked about the Conn Smythe. A consensus emerged: That unless the Ducks' J.S. Giguere had a particularly rough outing, he would likely win the award because that is how it is worded: "To the most valuable player for his team in the playoffs." Sometimes, the MVP comes from the losing team and usually, it's a goalie.

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Under that criteria, it is hard to imagine any winner other than the Bruins' Tim Thomas unless, of course, he has a meltdown in the deciding game and costs his team the victory. Even then, it might be hard to vote against him.

No other Bruins' player comes close in terms of challenging Thomas for the award, although Zdeno Chara will likely run second in the balloting and you could argue that either Dennis Seidenberg or Brad Marchand might be third.

On the Canucks' side, at different times, Alex Burrows, Ryan Kesler, Roberto Luongo, Henrik Sedin and Kevin Bieksa have all had strong playoff performances at different times, and struggled at others. Burrows has likely been the most consistent and, his antics aside, would probably be the leader on the Canucks' side heading into Game 7.

Thomas, incidentally, was asked the Conn Smythe question Tuesday, after arriving in town and deflected it nicely.

"I'll take some time this summer to reflect and think about those type of things," he said. "As of right now, the most important goal that we've set for ourselves as a team is still not accomplished. As of right now, all the focus is on that one thing and I'll try to answer your question better when it's all over."

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