Calgary Flames legend Mike Vernon officially enters the Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday (6pm MT)

Photo credit:John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
7 months ago
Two decades after playing his last National Hockey League game, Mike Vernon will officially be enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday night in Toronto. Vernon will be honoured as part of the 2023 Hall of Fame class during the official induction ceremony on Monday.
The whole event can be seen at 6 p.m. MT on TSN 4 and 5.
A Calgary kid, Vernon played with the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Calgary Canucks and the Western Hockey League’s Calgary Wranglers, as well as joining the Portland Winterhawks (utilizing a rule allowing teams to add a third goaltender) at the Memorial Cup in 1982 and 1983. Vernon was selected by the Flames in the third round of the 1981 NHL Draft, their second selection of that year following first-rounder Al MacInnis, who also became a Hall of Famer.
Vernon went pro in 1983 and spent the better part of the next two or three seasons bouncing between the NHL and the Flames’ minor league teams in Denver, Salt Lake City and Moncton. He came up midway through the 1985-86 season, with the team juggling injuries and a lengthy losing streak. Vernon got to play, helped the team snap the losing skid, and ended up sticking around. Due to his strong play against Winnipeg during the regular season, Vernon was given starting duties to start the 1986 post-season against the Jets. He ended up leading the Flames to the Stanley Cup Final, and was the team’s starter from that point onward.
As starter with the Flames, Vernon helped the club win two Presidents’ Trophy and led the club to two Stanley Cup Finals, including a championship in 1989. (He’s the sixth player from the 1989 Flames team to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, following MacInnis, Lanny McDonald, Joe Mullen, Joe Nieuwendyk and Doug Gilmour.)
With Trevor Kidd making a push for more starters, the Flames opted to trade Mike Vernon to Detroit in the summer of 1994 in exchange for blueliner Steve Chiasson. At the time, Vernon was the franchise’s all-time leader in just about every goaltending statistical category. Vernon continued his strong play in Detroit, bouncing back from some recurring back issues that plagued him during his last few seasons in Calgary to get the Red Wings to the Stanley Cup Final in 1995 and 1997, winning his second Cup in ’97 and being named the Conn Smythe Trophy winner as playoff MVP.
Vernon left the Red Wings following that win, bouncing around with stints in San Jose and Florida before returning to the Flames for his final two seasons, where he split goaltending duties with Fred Brathwaite (2000-01) and Roman Turek (2001-02). He retired in 2002.
Vernon wasn’t the biggest goaltender in the league – he was listed at 5’9″ officially but he’s said in interviews that he was closer to 5’7″ – but he was an athletic, competitive goaltender who found ways to make key saves at key times. His breakaway save on Stan Smyl in Game 7 of the first round in 1989 against Vancouver is arguably the most important save in franchise history, and when the highlight reel of key Flames franchise moments runs, it’s usually Vernon in net for the first half (and Miikka Kiprusoff for the other half).
Vernon becomes the 12th past Flame enshrined in the Hall of Fame as a player, following Grant Fuhr, MacInnis, Phil Housley, McDonald, Mullen, Nieuwendyk, Gilmour, Sergei Makarov, Brett Hull, Martin St. Louis and Jarome Iginla. (Plus Pat Quinn, who was inducted as a builder.) As a player that was equal parts important and excellent during his time in the NHL, Vernon’s induction is extremely well-deserved.

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