GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Another Detroit Red Wing has been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame: former goaltender Mike Vernon.
“Vernie” was one of seven people inducted Monday night, alongside former goalies Tom Barrasso and Henrik Lundqvist, forwards Pierre Turgeon and Caroline Ouellette, coach Ken Hitchcock and general manager Pierre Lacroix.
Standing only 5 foot 9, Vernon was small in stature, but he stood tall in net, using his speed and quick reflexes to shut down opposing offenses.
The Calgary native was drafted in the third round by his hometown Flames in the 1981 NHL Entry Draft. He played 11 seasons with the Flames and helped the team win the Stanley Cup in 1989 before being traded to the Red Wings, helping them surge to the top of the Western Conference.
Partnered with Chris Osgood, the two won an NHL-record 62 games in the 1995-96 regular season and shared the William Jennings Trophy for the lowest goals-against average. After splitting time during the 1996-97 season, Vernon was named the starter heading into the playoffs and dominated for Detroit, winning 16 of 20 games en route to the team’s first Stanley Cup championship in more than 40 years. Vernon was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the postseason’s most valuable player.
The following offseason, with the younger Osgood ready to take the starting job, Vernon was traded to San Jose. He spent parts of three seasons there before being traded to Florida and eventually back to his hometown Flames.
Vernon retired following the 2001-2002 season. The two-time champion and five-time All-Star finished his career with 385 wins, which is currently 16th-best in league history.
“Like most kids growing up, I started playing hockey having fun. (It was) a chance to hang out with my friends, with all of my buddies, and dreaming one day of playing in the NHL,” Vernon said in his induction speech. “Everybody that is here tonight understands one thing about hockey: It is the ultimate sport and that I had great teammates along the way. (There are) too many to name, but I’d like to thank them all. From Al (MacInnis) to (Steve) Yzerman, you have pushed me to be my best, you taught me what it meant to be a teammate and what it took to become a pro.”
Vernon is now one of 57 former Red Wings players to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.