Tuesday, February 06, 2007


Flames Game Day: #30 Gets Retired

The Flames finish off their 4-game homestand tonight against the Blackhawks (7PM MT, Flames PPV). They went 3-0 in the first three games (14GF, 6GA), and will be shooting for their league-leading 23rd home win (no other team has even 20 yet). Apparently their old nemesis Nik Khabibulin will be in goal for the Hawks, with Patrick Lalime getting the start tomorrow against the Canucks (I never liked that Denis Savard).

The big deal tonight, though, is that the #30 of Flames goalie, Calgary native, and mc79 childhood hero Mike Vernon is being retired. This is only the second number that the Flames have retired; it so happens that I was there for the first. I was in Section Y Row 7 when they hoisted sacamano childhood hero Lanny McDonald's #9 up to the rafters, before a game against the Hartford Whalers in March 1990.

Eric Duhatschek had a good piece on Vernon yesterday, with a killer lede:
They were set to hang Mike Vernon's No. 30 jersey from the rafters at the Pengrowth Saddledome Tuesday night, which was singularly appropriate in some ways. So many times during Vernon's career with the Calgary Flames, which featured two trips to the Stanley Cup final and more wins (259) than any other goaltender in franchise history, some of the local boo-birds would have just as soon seen his sweater raised to the roof, with Vernon inside.

True, and he'd know. I know I've referenced this here and there, but Duhatschek, Steve Simmons, and Al Maki were all on the Flames beat for all or part of the Vernon years. Come to think of it, so was George Johnson, who chats with Stan Smyl in today's Herald. Avert your eyes, Canucks fans:
Stan Smyl won't be on hand for the festivities.

"But I'll be there anyway," he laughs. "In spirit. And, I'm sure, up on the JumboTron. Replayed a few hundred times."

Of all the touchstone moments in Mike Vernon's tenure as a Calgary Flame, one moment stands out, caught in time, preserved forever for those who saw it. That save on Stan Smyl.
"Maybe that's why I'm still so popular in Calgary," kids Smyl. "To this day, I can walk down the streets there and people high-five me."

Yes kids, Mike Vernon in fact had an excellent glove hand. I actually remember the OT stop on Tony Tanti more vividly, which was a superb glove save on a screaming slapper.

As a fan, the bonus feature of these trips down memory lane is that occasionally you hear old stories that were probably never reported at the time. Example: Al Macneil recalls the pre-Vernon days:
"[Pat] Riggin was a guy who had the skills, but he just wasn't committed enough to the game. He was always down at the racetrack or off doing something else..."

Heh. Hopefully the ceremony is enjoyable; here's my take from when the original announcement was made.

As for the game, the injury situation is a bit of a mystery at the moment. Warrener is reporting his status as "questionable" for tonight but "probable" for the road trip, so both Gio and Andrea Susan (fresh off of dazzling the faithful with his SuperSkillz) will likely be in tonight's lineup. Yelle sounds like he's still out, too. From the same Sun story, the Coach Playfair QotD:
"And when he's pushing hard on the forecheck and has really good system awareness, the details, the work ethic, he puts himself in a position, consistently, to be in good ice."

There's definitely a risk that the Flames will be looking ahead to their upcoming road swing, but the thing is (forgive me hockey gods), they probably don't need to play 60 strong minutes to win this game. I think it ends up around Calgary 5 (Amonte, Langkow x2, Iginla, Giordano) Chicago 3 (Havlat, Lassie, Salmonella). Go Flames.


Yes kids, Mike Vernon in fact had an excellent glove hand.

Wayne Gretzky and Essa Tikkanen would certainly agree.

Bwaa haaa haaaa haaaaa.

Oilers fans should probably be thankful that Dick Duff was inducted into the Hall of Fame, as now Grant Fuhr is merely the 2nd least deserving member. Sure, he went 8-18-8 against Mike Vernon, but when the Oilers really needed a big save, blah blah.

All you need to know about what a great goalie Grant Fuhr was is the first category on this page. Mike Vernon was better in his prime, had a better career, and is more deserving of any accolade you'd care to name.

CJ: I assume #2 and #14 are next, but Vernon has been retired longer (he's already HHOF-eligible, Macinnis is not).

Mike Vernon was better in his prime, had a better career, and is more deserving of any accolade you'd care to name.

People say Dan Marino was better than Joe Montana, too. Better numbers, better Isotoners, blah blah blah. No one in their right mind would take Vernon over Fuhr.

I was ambivalent about retiring Vernon's number until I was listening to peter Maher on teh radio this morning. Pete correctly pointed out that Vernon was a key part of the trip to the final in '86 and the Cup win of '89. In Maher's mind, and on reflection I agree, the Flames don't get past the Oilers in '86 without Vernon (Steve Smith notwithstanding) and don't get past Vancouver in '89.

I expect the Oilers could have won their Cups without Fuhr (in fact they won 2 or 3 of them with others carrying most of the load), but Calgary doesn't have any without Mike.

So, I'm all for retiring number 30.

And I'd take Vernon ahead of Fuhr in their respective primes, too.

I can't say I'd take Vernon over Fuhr, BUT I think that if Fuhr had to play on a team that didn't get 400+ goals/season he doesn't get a sniff at the HHOF.

How you can you point towards the offence, while ignoring the defence? Sure he had help offensively. Every team did. It was the 80's. But he played on a team that was in large part uninterested in playing defence. There are two sides to that coin.

I'd just like to hear from Matt why the Oilers were successful, despite Fuhr's presence. Is it because they had a better team in every other regard than the Flames? Because I can live with that argument.

They were awesomely potent with goaltending that was (usually) not-awful. That's not despite Fuhr; he was what he was. They probably win fewer Cups if Hardy Astrom or Mike Palmateer was their goalie.

It's just that he's about 3 levels of outstanding below what a Hall-of-Famer is. Vernon is about 1 below, meaning he probably won't get in, but might.

It's just that he's about 3 levels of outstanding below what a Hall-of-Famer is.

C'mon. You don't actually even believe that. Feel free to do a post, looking at some comparables.

Question: How many seasons did Mike Vernon see more than 1000 shots?

Answer: 11.

Question: How many of those seasons saw him post a better than league average save percentage?

Answer: 4.


And just for the record, Otto kicked it in

What are you guys talkin about id take fuhr or vernon any day. Yeah he won 5 cups and he was on great teams but he won. Andy moog couldnt get the job done thats why grant started in the playoffs and moog was a great goaltender. In 83 oilers lost to the islanders in the finals with moog in net the following year in 84 with fuhr in net oilers won the first game where he outdueled billy smith 1-0 in the first game of the series in ny which changed the whole complexion of the series so far for the supposed 8-6 games huh?

Fuhr is a winner 5 cups 5-1 game 7's and lets not forget the two canada cup in 84 and 87. You throw his international tournaments here along with nhl success id take him over roy.

Game in game out other goalies were more consistant roy, hasek , broduer and hell even vernon but when the game was on the line or big game situations for all the marbles he was the best. game 7 record fuhr 5-1 only game 7 he ever lost i think u all remember when steve smith backed it in off his skate and his last win was member for the blues 1-0 shut out.
He never lost in the finals and the two canada cups. Roy was 6-7 in the game 7's and only internationaly experience he had was him bein outdueled against hasek in nagano. Other goalies better numbers more consistant but when the game was on the line he was the best.

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