The Hockey Hall Of Fame recently announced it's newest members to be enshrined and once again, former Flames goal tender Mike Vernon was left on the outside looking in. It begs the question: does Mike Vernon belong in the HHOF or not?
There are currently 263 players in the HHOF, 34 of them are goalies. The 34 goal tenders are as follows:
1945: Charles Robert "Chuck" Gardiner
1945: Georges Vezina
1958: Alex Connell
1958: Frederick Hugh Lehman
1958: Paddy Moran
1959: Cecil "Tiny" Thompson
1961: George Hainsworth
1961: Percy LeSueur
1963: Riley Hern
1963: Bouse Hutton
1964: William Ronald Durnan
1965: Clinton S. "Clint" Benedict
1966: Francis Charles Brimsek
1967: Walter Edward "Turk" Broda
1969: Roy Worters
1971: Terrance Gordon "Terry" Sawchuk
1972: Harry "Hap" Holmes
1973: Claude Earl "Chuck" Rayner
1975: Glenn Henry Hall
1976: John William Bower
1978: Joseph Jacques Plante
1980: Harry Lumley
1980: Lorne "Gump" Worsley
1983: Ken Dryden
1984: Bernard Marcel Parent
1985: Gerald Michael "Gerry" Cheevers
1987: Edward "Eddie" Giacomin
1988: Anthony James "Tony" Esposito
1989: Vladislav Tretiak
1993: William John "Billy" Smith
2003: Grant Fuhr
2006: Patrick Roy
2011: Ed Belfour
2014: Dominik Hasek
Only 4 of the enshrined goalies are true contemporaries of Vernon: Grant Fuhr, Dominik Hasek, Patrick Roy and Ed Belfour. Let's start by comparing Vernon's career with the 4 goalies from his "era" in the NHL and see how they compare.
|Player||Games||W||L||GA||SV||SV %||GAA %||Awards||Stanley Cup Championships|
|Grant Fuhr (1981-2000)||868||403||295||2756||19,403||.887||3.38||All Star (6), Vezina (1), Jennings (1)||4|
|Patrick Roy (1985-2003)||1029||551||315||2546||25,807||.910||2.54||All Star (11), Conn Smythe (3), Jennings (4), Vezina (3)||4|
|Dominik Hasek (1991-2008)||735||389||223||1572||18,648||.922||2.20||All Star (6), Vezina (6), Jennings (3), Hart (2), Lindsay (2)||2|
|Ed Belfour (1989-2007)||963||484||320||2317||22,434||.906||2.50||All Star (5), Vezina (2), Jennings (4), Calder||1|
|Mike Vernon (1983-2002)||781||385||273||2206||17,726||.890||2.98||All Star (5), Jennings (1), Conn Smythe (1)||2|
As you look at the stats, it would be appropriate to find he matches up best with Grant Fuhr numbers wise. Vernon played the second least amount of games of the 5, 46 games more than Dominik Hasek who played the least amount of NHL games at 735. Vernon's GAA is comparable to the others, but he, Roy and Fuhr played when offense was the name of the game and the equipment was much smaller. Also, it didn't make sense to compare Vernon to guys like Dryden, Cheevers and Esposito seeing the amount of teams were vastly different to when Vernon entered the league.
One thing going against Vernon is his lack of international play. He played in the WJC for Canada in 1983 playing 4 games and getting 2 wins and played again for Canada in the WC's in 1991 going 0-2 with a 4.91 GAA, Roy has less experience, having played only for Team Canada in the 1998 Olympics and not placing in the medal round. Meanwhile Hasek is an international super star. Hasek was a member of 3 WJC (all silver), 4 WC (1 silver, 3 bronze) and was the goal tender for the Czech Republic in the 1998 and 2006 Olympics, winning gold and bronze respectively. Grant Fuhr has 1 WC to his name winning silver and also backstopped Canada to 2 gold medals in the Canada Cup (84 & 87). Ed Belfour has a gold medal from the 2002 Olympic games while backstopping Team Canada and a gold from the Canada Cup in 1991.
When looking, as compared to Roy, Belfour, Hasek and Fuhr, I think Vernon's NHL numbers hold up, but this is the Hockey Hall Of Fame, not the NHL Hall Of Fame. Big difference. A guy like Roy can rely soley on his NHL numbers because they are so other worldly. Hasek is the complete package and Belfour has enough of both international and NHL prowess to have gotten him in.
This is where, again, you have to look at Vernon and Fuhr side by side. Fuhr has the advantage in Stanley Cup Championships with 4. He got them playing with those stud Oilers teams of the 1980's. Vernon's Cup wins came in 1989 (beating Roy and the Canadiens in the Stanley Cup Finals) and then in 1997 with the Detroit Red Wings. Vernon has a better GAA and Sv% and in 87 more games than Vernon, Fuhr only has 18 more wins. There's no doubt Grant Fuhr belongs in the HHOF. That I'll never argue, but you could argue that Vernon's numbers could have been better had be been playing with Messier, Kurri, Coffey and Gretzky. Not that Vernon played with slouches, but you get the idea.
In the end, time could be what keeps Vernon out of the HHOF. Goalies are a rarity in the HHOF and it's not like they've been beating down the doors in recent years. Hasek was the last keeper to get in and that was in 2014. Prior to that is was Belfour in 2011 and Roy in 2006. Fuhr was honored in 2003 and he was the first goalie to make it into the HHOF since Billy Smith in 1993. Vernon does appear on list of comparable players with Smith and Fuhr, but he also lines up with Andy Moog, Don Beaupre and Chris Osgood. Osgood was a good NHL goalie, but Beaupre and Moog aren't HHOF material.
Mike Vernon was already honored by the Flames having his number retired in 2007 and he was also inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall Of Fame in 2010. Will Mike Vernon ever get the call for enshrinement to the HHOF? Probably not. Does he deserve to be in the Hall? This writer 100% believes that he belongs.
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