Top 50 Flames of All Time: #41 Reggie Lemelin
Photo credit:Graphic by Mike Gould
By Ryan Pike2 months ago
Friends, it’s probably not an overstatement when we say that goaltending is really, really important if you want to have a successful hockey club. In Flames franchise history, they’ve had quite a few good goaltenders, but very few netminders who’ve gotten to a level of greatness.
Reggie Lemelin, #41 on our countdown, wasn’t great for very long, but he was great for the Flames for a couple key seasons.
A product of Quebec City, Lemelin was selected by the Philadelphia Flyers in the 1974 NHL Amateur Draft. However, he never got a chance to throw on a Flyers sweater, and he left the organization as a free agent in the summer of 1978.
Lemelin signed a deal with the Atlanta Flames, who at the time had a goaltending tandem of Dan Bouchard and Yves Belanger. Lemelin beat out Belanger for the backup job in the 1978-79 season, then lost the job to Pat Riggin in 1979-80, then backed up Riggin after Bouchard was traded to Quebec midway through the 1980-81 season (and remained backup in 1981-82).
Edwards split the net with Don Edwards in 1982-83, then took over the starting job fully in 1983-84 and had a fantastic two season stint as the club’s top goaltender. Lemelin was second in Vezina voting in 1983-84 (eighth in Hart voting) and third in Vezina voting in 1984-85, marking the first instances of a Flames goaltender finishing as a finalist in voting for the league’s top goaltender. (Tom Barrasso won in 1983-84 and Pelle Lindbergh won in 1984-85.)
Lemelin remained the Flames’ top goaltender until the back half of the 1985-86 season. Mike Vernon was called up from the farm team and began getting starts… and winning, frequently. Vernon began getting more and more playing time, and he ended up being the club’s goaltender of choice heading into a playoff series against the Winnipeg Jets – a team Vernon had success against during the season. The approach worked, Vernon became the team’s top goaltender, and Lemelin served as backup until his contract expired following the 1986-87 season.
Faced with being a backup in Calgary, Lemelin signed with Boston as a free agent, and ended up having a very nice run with the Bruins before retiring several seasons later.
Lemelin wasn’t the best goaltender the Flames ever had, but he was quite good for them for several seasons before losing his starting job to a player that ended up being one of the top Flames netminders of all-time. For his strong play, Lemelin lands at #41 on our list.
Top 50 Flames of All Time
Honourable mentions | #50 Brad Treliving | #49 Sonia Scurfield | #48 Curtis Glencross | #47 Colin Patterson | #46 Jiri Hudler | #45 Jim Peplinski | #44 Jim “Bearcat” Murray | #43 Nelson Skalbania | #42 Dion Phaneuf | #41 Reggie Lemelin
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