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ALL-TIME ALL-STARS - VERNON

The hometown boy backstopped the Flames to two Stanley Cup finals, winning the sacred chalice in 1989

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames / calgaryflames.com

They are the best of the best in Calgary Flames history.

Over 24 days we will profile our All-Time All-Stars (listed alphabetically at each position). Make sure to check back daily to see who's getting the nod. Click here to see all players already selected:

 

Opening the door to the family home that night, he found a little girl outside.

"I'd never seen her before in my life," recalled Mike Vernon in an interview years later.

"She was about five years old and she stood there saying nothing. Then she said: 'Mike, they're calling for you on TV.'

"I thanked her and closed the door. Then, sure enough, the telephone rang. It was the coach (Badger Bob Johnson) asking me to get over to the rink right away.

"One of their goalies was hurt in warm-up and they were paging me on the hockey television broadcast."

Vernon was a part of the WHL Calgary Wranglers at the time, a third-round draft choice, and owing to the precarious goaltending situation, the Flames had asked CBC TV play-by-by man Don Wittman to put out a call on air to track down the local draft choice.

Thus began, at 21 years of age, Mike Vernon's career as a Flame: Perched on the end of the bench at the old Corral.

Only three years later, he'd backstop the Flames to an improbable Stanley Cup appearance and three after that, a title in the most hallowed of the game's shrines.

In the process, he's been pegged - depending on generational pull - as either 1, 1A or 2 among the lengthy list of gentlemen goaltenders to ever strap on pads in this town.

So often under scrutiny for being the local guy, he was so often there when they needed him. Against the unbeatable Oilers in '86, the pesky Canucks followed by the regal Habs in '89.

Vernon's ability to perform a miracle of sorts, slay the Gretzky/Messier/Coffey/Kurri-propelled Oilers, turned the fortunes of a franchise.

If there had been no Mike Vernon, there would've been no miracle seven-game playoff victory over those Oilers in '86, no 20,000-plus at the Calgary airport for a crazy, wonderful, euphoric reception usually reserved for rock stars, unparalleled in this city, before or since. And no Stanley Cup, no piece of history as the only team to ever to lift the Stanley Cup on the ice of the fabled Montreal Forum.

Among goaltenders hereabouts, Vernon still ranks first in regular-season winning percentage (.601), playoff appearances (81) and victories (43), and held every other franchise puck-repelling record worth having - games played (526), minutes (29,650) and Ws (262) - until a certain silent assassin from Finland, Miikka Kiprusoff, arrived on scene.

During his tenure he played in five NHL all-star games and finished second in Vezina Trophy balloting in '88-89.

Vernon retired Sept. 13, 2002, following a brief second tour of duty in his hometown and after collecting a second Stanley Cup ring, along with a Conn Smythe Trophy, in Detroit in the spring of 1997.

On Feb. 6, 2007, in tribute to the hometown kid made good, Vernon's signature No. 30 was raised to the rafters inside the Saddledome, alongside Lanny McDonald's iconic No. 9.

"Without Vernie," stressed Theo Fleury the night of the jersey retirement, "I'm just a regular guy.

"I may have a thousand points and a thousand games, but he made me a winner. I don't have my name on the Stanley Cup without him. And the Stanley Cup is what matters.

"What more can you say about Mike Vernon? Two Cups. Three-hundred-and-eighty-five wins. A winning record against Grant Fuhr and Patrick Roy.

"He had that laid-back way about him, but Vernie was as competitive a guy as I ever played with.''

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