Does Miikka Kiprusoff have a shot at making the Hockey Hall of Fame?

Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
4 months ago
Folks, as you may have heard, the Calgary Flames are retiring Miikka Kiprusoff’s jersey number, 34, on Saturday night prior to their game with the Pittsburgh Penguins. The honour is well-deserved, as Kiprusoff was a dominant presence in the Flames net for the better part of the decade in the 2000s and essentially re-wrote the franchise’s record books when it came to goaltending.
But how does Kiprusoff’s resume stack up when it comes to the Hockey Hall of Fame?
Back in November, another Flames goaltending legend, Mike Vernon, was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.  Vernon was the franchise’s foundational goaltender during their heydays of the 1980s and early 1990s, and he backstopped the Flames to a pair of Stanley Cup Final appearances – a loss in 1986 and a win in 1989. Vernon became the first netminder to have his number retired by the Flames when his number 30 was retired by the club in 2007.
Now, if you compare Vernon’s numbers with the Flames with Kiprusoff’s, number 34 comes out on top. Kiprusoff played more games, and more games per season, and his numbers were better. He had a higher rate of shutouts – 41 in 576 games for Kiprusoff compared to 13 in 527 for Vernon. While the eras were definitely very different, considering the size of equipment, skill of players and overall change in defensive systems between Vernon’s time and Kiprusoff’s, a case can be made that Kiprusoff was the more dominant goaltender as a Flame.
If you were comparing just Vernon’s time wearing the Flaming C to Kiprusoff’s, as we have recently when comparing both to current Flames netminder Jacob Markstrom, a case can be made that Vernon was the better playoff goalie (he won a Stanley Cup) and Kiprusoff was the better regular season goalie (he won the Jennings and Vezina trophies). In this lens of analysis, you can make a decent case for Kiprusoff to be in the Hall of Fame based on Vernon’s inclusion.
But the difference-maker, to me, for Vernon’s Hall of Fame case was his time away from Calgary. Kiprusoff played in one long playoff run (2004). Vernon played in four (1986, 1989, 1995 and 1997), winning two Stanley Cups with two different teams (in two pretty different styles of hockey) and being awarded the Conn Smythe as playoff MVP in 1997.. Vernon might not have been as dominant a regular season goalie as Kiprusoff, but he has both longevity and playoff success on his side.
Kiprusoff’s 319 career regular season wins have him tied with Craig Anderson for 31st all-time, with nine inactive goaltenders ahead of him that aren’t in the Hall of Fame – including former San Jose teammate Evgeni Nabokov and 2004 playoff rival Nikolai Khabibulin. His 25 career playoff wins rank him 63rd. (Vernon is 18th in regular season wins and 8th in playoff wins.) There have been goaltenders inducted into the Hall with fewer wins than Kiprusoff, both regular season and playoff, but the trend has been inducting players from the upper-end of those leaderboards.
Kiprusoff was a fantastic goaltender for the Flames. The 2004 run – which was crucially important for the club both on and off the ice – quite simply would not have unfolded without him. He’s a tremendously important figure in franchise lore and his jersey being retired was a no-doubter, simply a matter of scheduling something and cajoling him to get on a plane.
But his numbers for his career are, unfortunately, just a bit shy of what’s typically considered Hall of Fame calibre.
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