It was following the 1965 Stanley Cup playoffs that the first Conn Smythe Trophy was awarded.
The winner was Jean Beliveau of the winning Montreal Canadiens.
The Conn Smythe Trophy is awarded annually to the player judged most valuable to his team (MVP) during the National Hockey League’s (NHL) Stanley Cup playoffs. The Conn Smythe Trophy has been awarded 48 times to 42 players since the 1964–65 NHL season. Each year, at the conclusion of the final game of the Stanley Cup Finals, members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association vote to elect the player deserving of the trophy. The trophy is handed out prior to the presentation of the Stanley Cup by the NHL commissioner and only the winner is announced, in contrast to most of the other NHL awards which name three finalists and are presented at a ceremony.
Unlike the playoff MVP awards presented in the other major professional sports leagues of the United States and Canada (the Super Bowl MVP, the NBA Finals MVP, and the World Series MVP), the Conn Smythe is based on the entire NHL postseason instead of just the championship game or series.
The Conn Smythe Trophy was introduced in 1964 by Maple Leaf Gardens Limited to honor Conn Smythe, the former owner, General Manager, and coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs and a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame as a builder. The trophy’s design is similar to Maple Leaf Gardens, the arena in which the Maple Leafs played their home games from 1931 to 1999, with a botanically-correct maple leaf further embellishing it as well.
In 1965, Beliveau became the only captain to score the Stanley Cup-winning goal and win the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. In that first year the Conn Smythe was given out, Beliveau also got to lift the Cup as captain for the first time.