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Mike Vernon
Mike Vernon.jpg
Born February 24, 1963 (1963-02-24) (age 56)
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Height 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
Weight 167 lb (76 kg; 11 st 13 lb)
Position Goaltender
Catches Left
Played for Calgary Flames
Detroit Red Wings
National team Flag of Canada.svg Canada
NHL Draft 56th overall, 1981
Calgary Flames
Playing career 1982–2002

Mike Vernon (born Michael Vernon on February 24, 1963) is a Canadian former professional ice hockey goaltender.

For 19 seasons, he played in the National Hockey League (NHL) for the Calgary Flames, and Detroit Red Wings.

He is a two-time Stanley Cup champion: with the Flames in 1989 and the Red Wings in 1997.

Mike appeared in five NHL All-Star games, was named a second team All-Star in 1989, shared the William M. Jennings Trophy in 1996 and he was named the winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy as most valuable player of the playoffs in 1997.

He has won over 300 games in his NHL career.

Playing CareerEdit

Junior Playing CareerEdit

Mike played his junior hockey in his hometown. First for the Calgary Canucks of the Alberta Junior Hockey League in 1979–80 and then the Calgary Wranglers of the Western Hockey League (WHL).

He appeared in 59 games in his first WHL season (1980–81) posting a 33–17–1 record before leading the team to the WHL finals where the Wranglers lost the best-of-seven championship to the Victoria Cougars, 4 games to 3.

Mike attracted the attention of the Calgary Flames, who selected him with their third round pick (56th overall) at the 1981 NHL Entry Draft.

Mike returned to the Wranglers for the 1981–82 season where he posted a 22–14–3 record with three shutouts. He was named a WHL all-star at goal, and was the recipient of the Del Wilson Trophy as top goaltender and named WHL most valuable player.

Even though the Wranglers were eliminated in the playoffs, junior rules of the time allowed the league champion to add an extra goaltender on loan for the Memorial Cup tournament.

Mike accepted an invitation to join the Portland Winter Hawks for the 1982 tournament where the team finished fourth in the four team event. He made his professional debut following the tournament, appearing in one playoff game for the Central Hockey League's Oklahoma City Stars.

Mike spent a third season with the Wranglers in 1982–83, however injuries during the season to Reggie Lemelin and Don Edwards forced the Flames to recall him to the NHL. He made his NHL debut on December 12, 1982, against the Detroit Red Wings.

A poor effort by the Flames resulted in Mike surrendering six goals in the first two periods before being pulled in a 7–3 loss. He appeared in one additional game, also a loss, before returning to the WHL where he repeated as the league's top goaltender and most valuable player.

He also played with the Canadian team at the 1982 World Junior Championship, winning two games in three appearances and helping Canada win the bronze medal.

Mike joined the Winter Hawks for the 1983 Memorial Cup, but not without controversy.

The WHL champion Lethbridge Broncos first requested Mike join their team for the tournament, but he was unwilling to play under the team's coach and refused. The Broncos were upset by his refusal, calling it "garbage" that he was allowed to join the rival Winter Hawks (who were hosting the tournament) after turning them down.

Winning all three games he started, Mike led Portland to the championship. He was named recipient of the Hap Emms Memorial Trophy as the most valuable goaltender of the tournament while the Winter Hawks became the first American team to win the Memorial Cup.

Calgary FlamesEdit

Turning professional in 1982–83, Mike spent most of the season with the CHL's Colorado Flames where he was named to the league's second all-star team after posting a 30–13–2 record in 46 games.

Mike returned to the Flames in 1983-84, but had a loss so he returned to the CHL. Considered at that point to be Calgary's goaltender of the future, he moved up to the Moncton Golden Flames of the American Hockey League (AHL) for 1984–85.

The season was a disappointment for him as he struggled throughout the year. He won only 10 of 41 starts and posted a goals against average (GAA) of 3.94.

Mike began the 1985–86 season as the fourth goaltender on the Flames' depth chart behind Lemelin, Marc D'Amour and Rick Kosti. He split the first half of the season between Moncton in the AHL and the Salt Lake Golden Eagles of the International Hockey League (IHL).

In the midst of what was ultimately a franchise record losing streak, wishing to rest Lemelin and facing a minor injury to backup Marc D'Amour, the Flames brought Mike up to play an exhibition game against Soviet club Dynamo Moscow during the 1986 Super Series. He was outstanding in goal, leading the Flames to a 4–3 victory.

Following a 9–1 loss to the Hartford Whalers that was Calgary's 11th consecutive defeat, Mike was given his first regular season start on January 9, 1986, against the Vancouver Canucks. He led the team to a 5–4 overtime victory to end the streak. It was also his first NHL win.

Mike recorded his first career shutout, also against Vancouver, on February 26 in a 4–0 win during a stretch where he went two months without losing in which he started.

Three of Mike's nine regular season wins came against the Winnipeg Jets, Calgary's first round opponent in the 1986 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Even though he had only 21-games of NHL experience, Vernon was named the starter for the series. He led the Flames to a three-game sweep of Winnipeg, followed by seven-game series victories over the Oilers and St. Louis Blues to lead the Flames into the Stanley Cup Final where the Flames ultimately fell to the Montreal Canadiens and their rookie goaltender Patrick Roy in 5 games.

Mike solidified his position as the Flames' starting goaltender in 1986–87, finishing third in the NHL with 30 wins. His 39 wins the following season was second in the league, one behind Grant Fuhr.

He played in the 1988 All-Star Game, his first of four consecutive appearances in the event, and helped the Flames win the Presidents Trophy as the top team in the regular season. The Flames were upset by the Oilers in the playoffs, however.

The 1988–89 season was one of Mike's finest.

He led all NHL goaltenders in wins with 37 and was second with a 2.65 GAA. He was named to the second All-Star Team and helped Calgary post the best record in the League. He finished second to Roy in voting for the Vezina Trophy as the league's top goaltender.

The Flames entered the 1989 playoffs as heavy favourites to defeat Vancouver in the opening round, but the Canucks forced Calgary to a seventh and deciding game in the series.

The game went to overtime, during which Mike was forced to make a spectacular glove save on a Stan Smyl breakaway. That save came to be a defining moment of his career and was later called "the save that won the Cup".

The Flames defeated Vancouver when Joel Otto scored the winner and then went on to defeat the Los Angeles Kings, Chicago Blackhawks and Montreal Canadiens to win Calgary's first Stanley Cup championship.

Mike remained among the NHL leaders in wins the following seasons, finishing 6th in 1989–90 with 23 and 2nd in 1990–91 with 31.

He was voted to the starting lineup for both the 1990 and 1991 All-Star Games via fan balloting. He served as the backup goaltender for Team Canada at the 1991 World Championship, and though he lost both games he appeared in, Mike and the Canadians won the silver medal.

Despite his success with the Flames, Mike was often criticized for letting in weak goals, and was routinely booed by the fans in Calgary when he did so. Some fans chose to direct insults towards his family in the stands, causing his parents to stop attending games.

Discussing his relationship with Flames fans later in his career, Mike remarked: "You've got to have a pretty thick skin to play goal. Fans at hockey games get very emotional. They're very passionate. They don't enjoy watching their team give up goals."

Mike also battled through recurring back problems that occasionally forced him out of the lineup.

Playing through it all, he became the 38th goaltender in league history to win 200 games, reaching the milestone on November 14, 1992, against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Mike played in his fifth All-Star Game in 1992–93 and was named to play his sixth the following season, but he had to withdraw from it due to a knee injury.

After nearly 10 seasons with Mike as Calgary's starting goaltender, the Flames felt it was time to hand the starting goaltender duties to Trevor Kidd.

On June 29, 1994, they traded Mike to the Detroit Red Wings in exchange for defenceman Steve Chiasson. The Red Wings had been pursuing a deal for him since the previous season.

Detroit Red WingsEdit

Detroit anticipated that the veteran Mike would help develop their young goaltender Chris Osgood.

As Detroit's top goaltender in 1994–95, he posted a 19–6–4 record and helped the Red Wings win the Presidents Trophy as the top regular season team. The Red Wings reached the 1995 Stanley Cup Final (their first appearance in the championship series since 1966), but they were swept in four games by the New Jersey Devils.

Mike and the Red Wings struggled to agree on a new contract following the season. Their dispute went to arbitration after he and his agent accepted an offer of a two-year, US$5.45 million contract that the team claimed to have withdrawn.

The arbitrator sided with the Red Wings, making Mike an unrestricted free agent. The two sides ultimately agreed on a two-year contract, of which the financial terms were not released.

While Osgood began to establish his position as the Red Wings' starter in 1995–96, Vernon won 21 games against only 7 regulation losses as the Red Wings set an NHL record with 62 victories in the regular season. Mike and Osgood shared the William M. Jennings Trophy as the goaltending duo on the team with the fewest goals against and share goaltending duties.

Vernon and Osgood share goaltending duties during the 1996–97 season, but became the 13th player in NHL history to win 300 games. He reached the milestone on March 26, 1997, against the Colorado Avalanche in a game in which he also fought Colorado goaltender Patrick Roy.

Head coach Scotty Bowman turned to the veteran Vernon as the team's starter in the 1997 Stanley Cup Playoffs after Osgood struggled late in the regular season.

Mike recorded a 16–4 record with a 1.76 GAA in the post-season, and was named the Conn Smythe Trophy winner as the most valuable player of the playoffs as Detroit won its first Stanley Cup championship in 42 years.

Placed in a position where the Red Wings had to trade a goaltender due to the waiver draft, Detroit chose kept him.

Career StatisticsEdit

Regular season and playoffsEdit

  Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League   GP W L T MIN GA SO GAA   GP W L MIN GA SO GAA
1979–80 Calgary Canucks AJHL 31 21 7 0 1796 88 0 2.95 7 3 4 399 22 0 3.30
1980–81 Calgary Wranglers WHL 59 33 17 1 3154 198 1 3.77 22 14 8 1271 82 1 3.87
1981–82 Calgary Wranglers WHL 42 22 14 2 2329 143 3 3.68 9 5 4 527 30 0 3.42
1981–82 Portland Winter Hawks Mem-Cup 3 1 2 171 16 0 5.61
1981–82 Oklahoma City Stars CHL 1 0 1 70 4 0 3.43
1982–83 Calgary Wranglers WHL 50 29 18 2 2856 155 3 3.26 16 9 7 925 60 0 3.89
1982–83 Calgary Flames NHL 2 0 2 0 100 11 0 6.60
1982–83 Portland Winter Hawks Mem-Cup 3 3 0 180 14 0 4.67
1983–84 Colorado Flames CHL 46 30 13 2 2648 148 1 3.35 6 2 4 347 21 0 3.63
1983–84 Calgary Flames NHL 1 0 1 0 11 4 0 21.82
1984–85 Moncton Golden Flames AHL 41 10 20 4 2050 134 0 3.92
1985–86 Salt Lake Golden Eagles IHL 10 6 4 0 600 34 1 3.39
1985–86 Moncton Golden Flames AHL 6 3 1 2 374 21 0 3.37
1985–86 Calgary Flames NHL 18 9 3 3 921 52 1 3.39 21 12 9 1229 60 0 2.93
1986–87 Calgary Flames NHL 54 30 21 1 2956 178 1 3.61 5 2 3 263 16 0 3.65
1987–88 Calgary Flames NHL 64 39 16 7 3565 210 1 3.53 9 4 4 515 34 0 3.96
1988–89 Calgary Flames NHL 52 37 6 5 2938 130 0 2.65 22 16 5 1381 52 3 2.26
1989–90 Calgary Flames NHL 47 23 14 9 2795 146 0 3.13 6 2 3 342 19 0 3.33
1990–91 Calgary Flames NHL 54 31 19 3 3121 172 1 3.31 7 3 4 427 21 0 2.95
1991–92 Calgary Flames NHL 63 24 30 9 3684 217 0 3.58
1992–93 Calgary Flames NHL 64 29 26 9 3732 203 2 3.26 4 1 1 150 15 0 6.00
1993–94 Calgary Flames NHL 48 26 17 5 2798 131 3 2.81 7 3 4 466 23 0 2.96
1994–95 Detroit Red Wings NHL 30 19 6 4 1807 76 1 2.52 18 12 6 1063 41 1 2.31
1995–96 Detroit Red Wings NHL 32 21 7 2 1855 70 1 2.26 4 2 2 243 11 0 2.72
1996–97 Detroit Red Wings NHL 33 13 11 8 1952 79 0 2.43 20 16 4 1229 36 1 1.76
1997–98 Detroit Red Wings NHL 62 30 22 8 3564 146 5 2.46 6 2 4 348 14 1 2.41
1998–99 San Jose Sharks NHL 49 16 22 10 2831 107 4 2.27 5 2 3 321 13 0 2.43
1999–00 San Jose Sharks NHL 15 6 5 1 772 32 0 2.49
1999–00 Florida Panthers NHL 34 18 13 2 2019 83 1 2.47 4 0 4 237 12 0 3.04
2000–01 Calgary Flames NHL 41 12 23 5 2246 121 3 3.23
2001–02 Calgary Flames NHL 18 2 9 1 825 38 1 2.76
NHL totals 781 385 273 92 44,449 2206 27 2.98 138 77 56 8211 367 6 2.68

InternationalEdit

Year Team Comp GP W L T MIN GA SO GAA
1983 Canada WJC 4 2 0 0 180 10 1 3.33
1991 Canada WC 2 0 2 0 74 6 0 4.91
Totals 6 2 2 0 254 16 1 3.78

AccoladesEdit

Award Year
Junior
WHL Most Valuable Player 1981–82
1982–83
Del Wilson Trophy
WHL goaltender of the year
1981–82
1982–83
WHL All-Star Team 1981–82
1982–83
Hap Emms Memorial Trophy
Top goaltender in the Memorial Cup tournament
1983
Central Hockey League
Second-team All-Star 1983–84
National Hockey League
Second-team All-Star 1988–89
William M. Jennings Trophy
Fewest goals allowed by one team
(Shared with Chris Osgood)
1995–96
Conn Smythe Trophy
Most valuable player of the playoffs
1997
Played in NHL All-Star Game 1988
1989
1990
1991
1993
Calgary Flames team awards
Molson Cup 1991–92

Personal LifeEdit

Mike was born in Calgary.

His father, Martin worked in construction and was president of the South Calgary community hockey organization where a young Mike played his youth hockey.

Mike attended Central Memorial High School and Henry Wise Wood Senior High School.

He was always a goaltender, often joining his father for practices by the age of 4 and always focusing on the goaltenders.

Mike considered his mother, Lorraine, his first coach and claimed his introduction to goaltending came from his family: "I had three brothers and when it came time to play hockey, they always said the same thing: 'Get Mikey, he’ll play net.'"

Mike and his wife Jane were married three days after his 1994 trade to Detroit; they have four children: three sons (Matthew, John & William) and a daughter, Amelia.

Following his hockey career, he has become involved in real estate development in the Windermere region near Invermere. He was also an investor in the Bear Mountain resort near Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.