Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Why Mike Vernon is not a Hall of Famer

This year's crop of Hall of Fame eligible players leave a little to be desired. There are few standouts in the bunch. Neil Stevens believes that of the first year eligible players Mike Vernon has the best shot at the hall. I do not believe Vernon should go there. Here are my picks.

I do not choose Mike Vernon because he isn't the best goalie available. I would argue that Rogie Vachon, Mike Liut, Chico Resch and Andy Moog are better hall of fame eligible goalies (and not all of them should make the hall).

The argument for Vernon is that he is the winningest goalie in the history of hockey who is eligible for the hall but not in it. This argument assumes that wins is a good metric to measure how good a goalie is. Wins are clearly a team stat. A good but not great goalie who plays on a series of great teams will get a lot of wins. This has become much more common in the expansion era (as opposed to the original six days) because there are many more goalies employed in the NHL. In the 50's the 20th best goalie in the world was likely in the minors. Today, he is likely an NHL starter. This allows careers of good but not great goalies to be much longer. Mike Vernon is a prime example. Had he played in the earlier days of the NHL, he would not have lasted 19 seasons. He wouldn't have been good enough for the NHL for the last several. However, he continued to play and gather wins.

Vernon clearly was a good goalie. He appeared in a few all star games. Although he never won a Vezina trophy, he was once the runner up. That alone makes his claim to be an all time great goalie a weak one. In no season was he judged to be the best goalie in the NHL (although once he was second best). What differentiates him from players like Ron Hextall and Pete Peeters who are not hall of famers and did win a Vezina in their careers?

The other argument for Vernon is his playoff success. He won two Stanley Cups with two different teams (Calgary and Detroit). Winning a Stanley Cup is a team achievement. To some degree it can be lumped into playing for a good team. But... he won the Conn Smythe trophy in his cup run in Detroit. Clearly he was a key to that run and not merely along for the ride. True. He had a very good playoff that year. However, he was not overly respected in the NHL at that point despite his Smythe win. As evidence the summer following the cup win, Detroit traded Vernon to San Jose for a couple second round draft picks. That would never happen if they thought he was the best (or even one of the best) goalies in the NHL at the time. In fact, the next year Detroit won the Stanley Cup again with Chris Osgood in net.

Mike Vernon was a good goalie. Mike Vernon won a lot of games. His win total was somewhat inflated due to his playing on top teams and playing in an expansion era that allowed him to maintain his career as a number one goalie longer than it would have in earlier eras. Wins are not a particularly good metric to measure a goaltender's ability. They are far too dependant upon the team in front of him. Vernon did have playoff success. He got very hot one year in the playoffs winning a Conn Smythe (Ron Hextall, JS Giguere, Roger Crozier and Bill Ranford did this also in other years and none of them are hall of famers). Even immediatley following his Smythe win, he was not considered an NHL star as is shown by his trade only a few weeks later. There are better goalies who are not in the Hall of Fame who are also eligible and I would not support the induction of all of them. That is why Mike Vernon should not be inducted.

It's evadent that you have never played goal befor, and the reason i say this is because every goaltending coach i have ever talked to hold vernon on a petistule compard those civ's that you named. Mike vernon is one of the greatest playoff goaltenders of
all time. I would bet that all thos goaltenders that you named don't have half the playoff wins that mike vernon has, and besides from a tecnicle standpoint vernon
kills them ,mike lieut had bad double coverage, ron hextall and andy moog both suck straight up horrible goaltenders, and they never won a single cup while starting unlike vernon's two cups
and four stanley cup finals apearences. mike's laterial movement and glove hand were unparaled. i cant bielieve you evwen compared him to such a crop off crap
It is evident that u should learn to spell, however I do agree somewhat.
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It is a pity that it is bad year for hall of fame. I hope that next year. We have more stand out players.
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