Calgary Flames 30 Days Until the Season Starts: #30 Mike Vernon

CALGARY, AB - FEBRUARY 19: Mike Vernon
CALGARY, AB - FEBRUARY 19: Mike Vernon /

There’s only a-month amount of days until the season starts! With 30 days left, let’s look at a former Calgary Flames player with that number.

Since the start of August, we’re counting down the number of days left until the regular season starts up again! Everyday until the start of the season, we’ll be talking about a Calgary Flames player whose number correlates with how many days there are left.

Last time we talked about a player who is still in the NHL, just not with the Flames anymore. He’s also quite small. That was #32 Paul Byron.

Today, let’s look at one of the best goaltender in Flames franchise history. With 30 days until the regular season starts, let’s look at #30 Mike Vernon.

Who is Mike Vernon?

Name: Michael Vernon

Birth place: Calgary, AB, Canada

Position: G

Catches: Left

Birthdate: 1963-02-24

Height: 5’9” / 175 cm

Weight: 76 kg / 167 lbs

Drafted by: Calgary Flames, 56th Overall 1981

Stats with all NHL teams, regular season:

Getting drafted by the Calgary Flames must have been exciting for Mike Vernon seeing how he grew up in Calgary. And the team only relocated to Calgary from Atlanta in 1980, so he was a part of a new franchise, in a way. Of course, Calgary had the Calgary Cowboys of the WHA, which ended three years before the Flames relocated to Calgary. However, they were nowhere near as successful as the Flames were when they first came to YYC.

But that’s enough Calgary history, let’s look at Vernon.

Growing up in Calgary, he also played in Calgary for his junior teams. He was in the AJHL then in the WHL, both in Calgary, and got the attention of Calgary scouts. They knew they wanted him. He was drafted in 1981, but spent that following season still in the WHL. To be fair though, it is extremely highly unlikely that a goaltender gets drafted and plays in the NHL right away. They normally take the most amount of time to develop as players.

In 1982, Mike Vernon got the call up to play with the big guys after injuries to two goaltenders. He made his NHL debut on Dec. 12, 1982. But unfortunately, he let in six goals in just two periods and was pulled for the third. The Flames lost 7-3 that day.

Calgary Flames
Calgary Flames /

Calgary Flames

That season, Vernon played another game where he let in four goals in another loss. Yikes.

The following season would be the same for Vernon. He would spend it down in the CHL and got a call up. Again, it was a little embarrassing for him. After letting in four goals on just six shots 11 minutes into the game, he was pulled. He’s now at three NHL losses in three games. He stayed in the CHL the rest of the 1983-84 season.

He didn’t play an NHL game the following season.

1985-86 didn’t start off too great for him either. He started off as the Flames fourth goaltender meaning that he would probably not see NHL ice a whole lot. However, the Flames were on a record losing streak. A change needed to happen and it was the perfect timing. They called Vernon up for a game in the 1986 Super Series against Dynamo Moscow, a Soviet club. The Flames won 4-3!

Let’s return back to regular NHL games. The Flames lost an embarrassing one to the Hartford Whalers (now known as the Carolina Hurricanes) 9-1. That was their 11th straight loss. Like I said, a change needed to happen. They turned to Vernon.

In January, he played in the first regular season game that year and helped end the Flames’ losing streak! They won in overtime. He went the next two months winning every single game that he started. He played in just 18 regular season games and started 15 of them. But he went 9-3-3. That year, 1986, the Flames made the playoffs.

Vernon was only a rookie, but he was their primary starter in the post-season. He played in 21 playoff games that year. The Flames made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in franchise history, but lost to the Montreal Canadiens in the finals.

Vernon’s career took off.

He kept improving every single season. In 1986-87, he was the Flames starter and went 30-21-1, making that 30-win mark. In 1987-88, he again was their primary starter and this time improved again. He went 39-16-7. Mike Vernon was now one of the best goaltenders in the league. He had the second best record of all goaltenders right after Edmonton’s Grant Fuhr. The Flames won the President’s Trophy that year (most amount of points at the end of the regular season). Vernon finished in fourth for the Vezina.

The following season, I’m sure we all know how this story goes. It’s 1988-89 and the Flames are coming off a loss in the playoffs after winning the President’s Trophy. So what do they do? They become the best team in the league again. All season, Vernon had just six regular season losses. SIX. He went 37-6-5. That stands as his best ever record and that season, he finally led all goaltenders for most amount of wins.

And what happened that year? The Calgary Flames won the Stanley Cup for the first time ever in franchise history. A lot of this was credited to Vernon’s performance in the playoffs and how he really kept them in there. He finished in 2nd place for Vezina voting.

Related Story: Throwback Thursday - Winning the Cup in 1989

The following seasons were never quite like 88-89, but he still held his own for a few more seasons, despite having some injuries. However in 1994, the Flames had a young goaltender on the rise and thought it was best to part ways with Vernon. So during the off-season, Vernon would no longer be a part of the Calgary Flames. He would call Detroit his new home.

He spent a couple seasons with Detroit, winning the Jennings trophy one year and the Smythe trophy another year. Vernon won another cup with the Detroit Red Wings in 1997 (the year he won the Smythe). However, the Red Wings had to trade a player because of the Waiver draft and they chose to trade Mike Vernon to the San Jose Sharks following their Cup win. So off to California he would go.

He would play for the Sharks for a few seasons before being traded to the Florida Panthers mid-season in December. But he wouldn’t spend long in Florida because ultimately, it was time for him to come back to Calgary.

In 2000, he was picked up in the Expansion Draft, but was traded to the Calgary Flames. Vernon was much older at this point and wasn’t his former self. His two seasons with the Flames, he had more losses than wins. He hung up his pads in 2002 and decided to announce his retirement.

Up until Miikka Kiprusoff, Vernon was the all-time best goaltender in Flames franchise history. I mean, even though Kip broke some of his records, he is still known as one of the top two best Flames goaltenders ever. It’ll be hard to break and no goaltender has quite come close since Kip also announced his retirement.

In 2007, the Flames retired Vernon’s jersey.

CALGARY, CANADA – FEBRUARY 24: The retired numbers of former Calgary Flames players. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)
CALGARY, CANADA – FEBRUARY 24: The retired numbers of former Calgary Flames players. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images) /

He became only the second player after Lanny McDonald to have his number retired by the Flames and is the only goaltender up until now in Flames history to have his number retired. He was also inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame in 2010. Vernon has yet to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, but I’m sure that will come soon.

Next: Three Teams Who Will Cause the Flames the Most Trouble

But for now, there’s only two-time-Stanley-Cup-Champion amount of days left until the regular season starts.