This coming May is the 40th anniversary of the Atlanta Flames moving to Calgary. To commemorate this occasion, we’re counting down the Top 40 Calgary Flames in history.
#13 on our list is Mike Vernon.
A product of Calgary who grew up here and played his junior hockey with the Wranglers of the WHL, Vernon was drafted by the club in 1981 and made his NHL debut in 1982. After a couple seasons yo-yoing between the NHL and the minors, Vernon began competing with Reggie Lemelin for starts.
Vernon had a superb 1985-86, eventually taking over the net in the playoffs and guiding the Flames to their first-ever trip to the Stanley Cup Final. That began a stretch of five or six seasons where he was one of the most quietly impressive goalies in the NHL. He was in net when the Flames won their only Stanley Cup in 1989.
In a way, Vernon is both propped up and penalized by the team he played on. If you look at the roster from the ’89 Cup team – and several of them have already appeared on our Top 40 – he was playing behind 10-12 great or borderline legendary players; five players from that team are in the Hockey Hall of Fame and another handful have good cases for candidacy. Vernon was good in net, but how important was goaltending to their wins?
That said: Vernon made the big saves when he needed to.
Vernon was a Vezina contender four times. He made two trips to the Stanley Cup Final wearing a Flaming C, getting his name on the Cup in the process. For the time, he was the goalie the Flames needed and he made the most of his time with his hometown team.
He’s #13 on our ranking.
Arrival: Selected in the third round, 56th overall, in 1981 NHL Entry Draft (June 10, 1981)
Departure: Traded to Detroit for Steve Chiasson (June 29, 1994)
Re-Arrival: Traded from Minnesota for Dan Cavanagh and 2001 eighth round pick (June 23, 2000)
Re-Departure: Retired (September 13, 2002)
Awards: 1988-89 Second Team All-Star, #30 retired by franchise
Top 40 Calgary Flames: HM Martin Gelinas | #40 Brad Marsh | #39 Matt Stajan | #38 Jiri Hudler | #37 Dion Phaneuf | #36 Guy Chouinard | #35 Phil Housley | #34 Matthew Tkachuk | #33 Cory Stillman | #32 Curtis Glencross | #31 Jamie Macoun | #30 Carey Wilson | #29 Reggie Lemelin | #28 TJ Brodie | #27 Alex Tanguay | #26 Daymond Langkow | #25 Sergei Makarov | #24 Craig Conroy | #23 Robert Reichel | #22 Paul Reinhart | #21 Doug Gilmour | #20 Mikael Backlund | #19 Jim Peplinski | #18 Joel Otto | #17 Tim Hunter | #16 Joe Mullen | #15 Sean Monahan | #14 Robyn Regehr