Could any former Flames be Hall of Fame bound?

Later today in Toronto, the 2018 induction class of the Hockey Hall of Fame will be unveiled (at 1 p.m. MT). For such a relatively young organization, the Calgary Flames are well-represented in the

Hall by players such as Lanny McDonald and Joe Nieuwendyk and builders such as Harley Hotchkiss and “Badger” Bob Johnson.

Could a few additional Flames alumni join their ranks? Here’s a look at the leading contenders for enshrinement.

Theoren Fleury

The case for: Fleury’s a fairly significant historical figure given his size, achievements and personal circumstances. He was a key part of the infamous Punch-Up in Piestany at the 1987 World Juniors, then returned to the event to lead Canada to a gold medal in 1988. He captured a Stanley Cup as a rookie in 1989, then went on to play over 1,000 games and score over 1,000 points despite (a) being 5’6″ and maybe 160 pounds and (b) dealing with the aftermath of repeated sexual abuse at the hands of junior coach Graham James. In the same vein that the careers of Mike Bossy and Cam Neely were followed with thoughts of “imagine if they’d been healthy,” imagine what Fleury could’ve accomplished had he not had to self-medicate to deal with his demons. He’s fourth in all-time NHL scoring among eligible players that aren’t in the Hall – behind Vincent Damphousse, Jeremy Roenick and Daniel Alfredsson.

The case against: Fleury was good, but arguably never one of the league’s best for a lengthy period of time. He finished top five in Hart Trophy voting just twice and while he had championships at the pro and international levels, he wasn’t really a difference maker in the Flames’ ’89 Cup win or Canada’s 2002 gold medal. He was there, but he wasn’t the reason they won.

Mike Vernon

The case for: A two-time Stanley Cup champion, Vernon is 15th in NHL history in wins and third in wins among eligible Hall of Famers that aren’t already in (behind Curtis Joseph and Chris Osgood). He had a lengthy career as an NHL starter and made four runs to the Stanley Cup final. He won a Conn Smythe as playoff MVP in 1997.

The case against: Bless him, but Vernon’s inability to win a Vezina Trophy and his lack of high-level international success somewhat hurts his resume compared to others he’s competing with for votes. He was consistently really good, but never really crept into the “elite” tier of goaltenders in his era.

Miikka Kiprusoff

The case for: He set the NHL’s modern day goals against average record in his first season as a starter (since broken). Kiprusoff was a workhorse whose resume includes backstopping the Flames to the seventh game of the 2004 Stanley Cup Final, then winning a Vezina Trophy following the NHL’s lockout – all told, he finished top five in Vezina four times in a relatively short NHL career.

The case against: While Kiprusoff’s Vezina win indicates he hit an elite level of performance, his NHL career was relatively short compared to other goaltenders he’s competing with for votes. He also never had the team success some other high-end netminders did, given that he has no international gold medals or Stanley Cup victories.

Martin St. Louis

The case for: Despite being a wee fella, St. Louis adapted to the changing game and became one of the most consistently productive players of his era. He won a Stanley Cup, a Hart, a pair of scoring titles and the Lady Byng on three separate occasions. He also had considerable international success during his career.

The case against: St. Louis never really had gaudy numbers and he was always one of many good players on successful teams. These are admittedly nit-picks, though. St. Louis seems a good bet to be in the Hall eventually.

Curtis Joseph

The case for: A veritable institution in the NHL, Joseph is fifth all-time in the NHL in wins by a goaltender – everybody who has more wins is in the Hall.

The case against: Joseph has won no major awards, team or individual. He finished top five in Vezina voting five times, but never captured it. He never won a Stanley Cup. He won gold at the 2002 Olympics with Canada, but he lost his only start and was replaced by Martin Brodeur for the rest of the tournament.

Sum it up

Fleury has the best chance of any Flames alumni. But with the crowded class of potential inductees, Flames fans might have to wait for Jarome Iginla’s eventual induction to see another Flame in the Hall.

  • Walt Whitman

    I would like to see Miikka get voted in just so we can watch an hour of his peers lauding his time in the NHL, both on- and off-ice, followed by Miikka walking up to a podium, holding the reward in his hand and speaking into the microphone, “Okay. Thank you.” and walking off without hesitation.

  • HAL MacInnis

    I don’t know why, but I was never a Mike Vernon fan. It could have stemmed from growing up in the Edmonton area with a buddy who’s Oiler lovin’ father was the ultimate troll. But that year when Vernon allowed a couple of goals in by Dave Brown, I lost my sh_t. I think out of the 3 goals Brown had that year, two were against Vernon. In fact, Brown had never scored any goals the prior two years with Edmonton. I never heard the end of that for an entire summer that year. That’s a lot of road hockey in my Al MacInnis jersey right outside house.

    Mike Vernon, you bastard!

    • oilcanboyd

      Mike Vernon helped the Calgary Flames win the Stanley Cup in 1989 and then the Red Wings in 1997. He won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 1997 (16-4, 1.76 goals-against average, .927 save percentage), albeit on a loaded Wings team.

      Vernon played 20 seasons in the NHL and made the playoffs 14 of 15 seasons between 1985-2000. His 385 wins are 13th all-time.

  • BlueMoonNigel

    Marty St. Louis, Brett Hull and Badger Bob, three guys who were run outta Cowtown only to enjoy HOF careers elsewhere. Pretty sure that Dougie Hamilton will one day join that band of misfits.

    • Rockmorton65

      Well, Dougie won’t do much in Carolina, but he DOES have three years left on his deal. So he should be traded at least once more before it expires. Maybe THAT team can carry him into the Hall..

  • HOCKEY83

    “Fleury was good, but arguably never one of the league’s best for a lengthy period of time.”
    Just a silly statement from someone who doesn’t know what he’s talking about. In the history of the NHL Fleury is tied for 49th all time points per game but was never one of the leagues best

  • StajansFinalPaycheck 3.5

    Mike Vernon! This guy should be there. I still remember him rolling up to Erin Woods arena for Jamie Hyslops hockey school. When he opened his door beer cans fell out into the parking lot. He was on the ice with us for an hour and stunk of booze and left to puke it up in the dressing room toilet. Not a class act but the man could stop a puck and the Flames would have zero cups if it were not for him. Vernon will get in. In 2020!

  • TheWheeze

    Being very serious here, in this age of #MeToo, I think Fleury should get some consideration for suffering through horrific abuse as a boy. Everyone talks about reconciliation, justice for survivors, Fleury should get his. Period.

  • Kzak

    Worst part about the inductees, is two of them should have been entering the HOF in Flames jerseys. We’ve had the worst friggin’ management over the years. Well, except for Vancouver.