Rogie Vachon celebrates 67th birthday

A day after Jacques Lemaire turned 67, another former Hab had 67 candles on his cake as Rogie Vachon celebrated on Saturday.

Below is a column Dave Stubbs wrote for The Gazette three years ago wondering why Vachon isn’t in the Hall of Fame.



Newspaper stories in the autumn of 1967 were suggesting that Canadiens goaltender Rogatien Vachon might soon be returned to the Houston Apollos, the minor-league farm club from which he had been summoned the previous winter.

So a 10-year-old Vachon fan took pen to paper and addressed the first fan letter of his life to his first hockey hero, telling “Mr. Vachon” in as many words that he should simply ignore any demotion and stay put.

The CH-crested envelope was in my family’s mailbox less than a week later, a classic black-and-white postcard of Vachon in the half-splits, the puck about to hit his outstretched blocker.

“Don’t worry, I’ll never let them send me down,” his reassuring, paragraphs-long reply read in part.

Rogie Vachon grinned when I told him this story yesterday. He enjoyed a modest show-and-tell as we spoke at his hotel – his face in a plastic marble that I’d dug out of the sugar of a 1969 Post cereal box, after many Vachon-less boxes had been consumed; one of his earliest Topps bubble gum cards; a full-size replica of the first mask he wore, acquired a year ago for my office wall.

Full disclosure, I told him: I became a Vachon fan when he made his first NHL save on Feb. 18, 1967, a Gordie Howe breakaway. I remained one when I disowned the Canadiens for trading him to the Los Angeles Kings in a 1-for-4 deal in November 1971. I stuck by him no matter how bizarre he looked in the jerseys of Detroit and Boston as his career wound down in the early 1980s.

And the autographed postcard didn’t hurt.

Vachon, 64, was in Montreal for a brief visit to a sports collectibles show at Centre Pierre Charbonneau. He’d flown in from L.A. on Saturday evening, dined with old friends, had Sunday brunch with a few family members, signed autographs yesterday afternoon and was on a dinnertime flight home.

The three-time Stanley Cup champion had never before done a signing in the city where his NHL career began. He does precious few, in fact, maybe one every few seasons, and only good timing and direct flights confirmed this one.

It was the first time in several years that he’d visited Montreal, using the airport mostly for connections to visit family in the Rouyn-Noranda area.

Vachon is surprised by the boom in sports collectibles, as are most of his generation. He has kept very little from his playing days beyond a few jerseys, his final gloves and skates and a purple, crown-painted mask he wore with the Kings. His last game-worn leather pads disintegrated in garage storage, decomposing in the California heat.

“Most of the stuff just got thrown out,” he said. “Or the trainers made a little money with it on the side.”

He remains at his playing weight nearly 30 years after his final game, thanks to four rounds of golf a week, two energetic grandchildren spoiled by him and his wife, Nicole, and the willpower to skip dessert.

Vachon still wears the familiar mustache he grew as a Canadien, the trim salt-and-pepper replacing the Fu Manchu and muttonchops he cultivated in tandem with teammate Mickey Redmond.

“Toe Blake was not very happy,” he joked about his old-school coach’s distaste for facial hair. “He said he was going to send Mickey and me back to the minors if we didn’t shave.”

It was Blake who threw a 21-year-old maskless goalie to the wolves on Feb. 18, 1967, a callup from Houston when Gump Worsley was injured and backup Charlie Hodge struggled.

“I didn’t know I was going to play that night – Toe just handed me the puck before the warmup and said: ‘You’re in,’ ” Vachon recalled of what would be a 41-save, 3-2 victory.

“I was sort of in shock, still trying to pull myself together when Gordie broke in alone from the blue line. Luckily, I stopped it. And I’ve joked with Gordie that this save probably kept me in the league for years.”

That save, yes. Along with an acrobatic style that earned him a share of the 1967-68 Vézina Trophy with Worsley, three championships in 41/2 Canadiens seasons, and a lifetime 395-291-127 record with 51 shutouts and 2.99 average through 795 games – despite being caught in frequent puck blizzards with more than a few clubs in Los Angeles to whom defence was a nasty rumour.

Vachon could have stuck it out in Montreal after the emergence of Ken Dryden, who debuted late in the 1970-71 season and carried the Canadiens to the club’s 17th Stanley Cup victory while winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP of the playoffs.

But he didn’t want to warm the bench at age 26. General manager Sam Pollock dealt him to the Kings for Denis DeJordy, Dale Hoganson, Noel Price and Doug Robinson.

Vachon soon was enormously popular in L.A., and became the first King to have his number retired. After his playing days, he would fill most every front-office job for the club, from goaltending coach to president. He retired from it all last season, most recently having been an ambassador.

On the ice, his most famous work probably was in the international arena. Vachon led Team Canada to victory in the 1976 Canada Cup with a brilliant .963 save percentage, 1.39 average and two shutouts in seven games, selected to the all-star team while being named the tournament’s best goalie and his country’s MVP.

As a three-time Stanley Cup winner and a Vézina recipient, and a player who led hockey out of a palm-tree wilderness before a forward named Gretzky, this remains a mystery:

Why is Vachon is not in the Hall of Fame, especially considering the enshrinement of contemporaries whose statistics are no better?

To say nothing of the curious 1989 induction of Vladislav Tretiak, a fine international goalie who is in the Hall, no matter the argument selectors might offer, almost uniquely for the landmark 1972 Summit Series and its political importance.

“People are shocked when I tell them I’m not in the Hall of Fame,” Vachon said, shrugging. “They assume I am. I’d love to be in there, but there are things in life that you can’t control.”

None of that mattered to him yesterday, nor to the many who queued at his signing table with photos, pucks and miniature Stanley Cups.

If even for a few hours, Rogie Vachon had returned to the city that gave him his start. There’s a Canadiens jersey in his Los Angeles home that says he’s never forgotten that.

And he was delighted to sign my replica of his first mask. He doesn’t have the genuine article – it’s in the Hall of Fame.

Nominate Vachon by sending a letter and supporting documents to Jim Gregory, Selection Committee Co-Chair, Hockey Hall of Fame, Brookfield Place, 30 Yonge St., Toronto, ON M5E 1X8


  1. Lafleurguy says:

    I’m going to guess that the only goalie in the Hockey Hall of Fame with fewer games played in the NHL than Ken Dryden is Vladislav Tretiak.

    “May you live in interesting times.”

  2. --Habs-- says:

    Nobody’s underestimating Dryden’s importance in 71.. He stood on his head on a team that was transforming aging and in somewhat of transformation and certainly were underdogs. But 73! That was a great hockey team in MTL that only lost 10 games that season. Offensively they matched the might Bruins and defensively nobody came close. Matter fact the Habs defensively that year matched their own best 76 thru 79 by a few goals. This was the beginning of the Robinson, Savard, Lapointe era with the help of a 4th all star D in Jacques Laperriere who was one of only 2 D (Bobby Orr) to lead the league in +/- as a D. Dryden had nothing but the best in front of him for 5 of his SC victories. Once Jacques Laperriere retired the habs struggled for a couple of years until the “Trio” matured and took over in 76.

    Go HABS Go

  3. Old Bald Bird says:

    I can hardly believe that some people seriously think Vachon was as good or better than Dryden. But then again, apparently, some think Lemaire was as good as Lafleur.

    • Ian Cobb says:

      Not sure about Vachon and Dryden , but it is plain that you never saw Lemaire, he was every bit as good as Guy and maybe better my friend.

      • Old Bald Bird says:

        Saw him plenty and disagree very much Ian. Not saying Lemaire was a chump, yaknow? 🙂

        • --Habs-- says:

          Its hard to create separation with the word better! All I can say is those teams were stacked with great players. Imagine what those players would make back then if they had todays salaries.
          The Habs of the 70’s was probably the most balanced team ever put together. Even the 4th line was solid.

    • --Habs-- says:

      Old Bald Bird – Let me ask you something! Do you think if Ken Dryden played with the Kings in those days would be the goaltender he became or would have pulled off what Vachon pulled off in those days with the Kings. I loved the habs as much as anyone did but Dryden was a good solid goaltender but not a great one.

      Go HABS Go

      • Old Bald Bird says:

        Good question. I honestly don’t have a clue because I don’t follow other teams very closely. I do know that I was much more comfortable with Dryden in net for us. Perhaps I was tarnished by Punch Imlach’s reference to Vachon being a Jr B goalie, with the Leafs going on to win that series, so I dunno. I also might be tarnished by Dryden’s heroics against the Bruins when he came up. That made an everlasting impression on me.

  4. HabFab says:

    Dave_Stubbs – In Fantasyland? #Habs open their exhibition schedule 2 weeks from tonight at Bell Centre vs #Senators

  5. Lafleurguy says:

    Posters will get one lifeline on Habs history, say, dial-a-friend, or get help from a smart fifth grader. Ken Dryden, as portly as ever, was not surprisingly with the delegation that had Gretzky, Messier, Dionne, and others paying respects to the many victims of Yaroslavl Locomotiv’s tragic plane crash one year ago. This Canadiens great is in the Hall of Fame. In a disappointing-to-fans short eight year career, he won Vezinas (not shared like R.V.’s one), a Conn Smythe, and six Stanley Cups. Like a rookie year goal of Guy Lafleur’s that stands out as my all-time favourite Lafleur goal, my favourite all time games for Dryden are two: the 46 save effort the recent Cornell grad had in the game seven 4-2 elimination game against Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito, & Co. in the spring of 1971, and a regular season 4-0 shutout of the Chicago Blackhawks in 1972, in which the Habs were outplayed, and Dryden stopped four clearcut breakaways by the Hawks, two by Jim Pappin, and one by Pit Martin (all-star players).

    I loved Rogatien, and wished his time with the Habs was longer. In THN’s 2010 ranking of the top 20 goalies of all-time, they put Sawchuck 1st, Roy around 3rd, Plante around 4th, and Dryden around 7th which disappointed me personally, but then rational analysis had me agreeing because KD had too short a tenure. Reason over passion.

    “May you live in interesting times.”

  6. commandant says:

    Part 2 of the Rankings is out. The top 15, featuring the Habs.

    Go Habs Go!
    Check out Top Shelf Prospects, my Team by Team prospect reports

    • Lafleurguy says:

      Love the feature article, B. I think you disagree with the Hockey News future watch in that they had Chicago, and Pittsburgh (I think) ranked in the lower half among teams. Not surprisingly, THN had the Habs around 22nd.

      Question for your consideration: If the four teams (may be wrong) who had two 1st round picks in June were the Sabres, Capitals, Penguins, and Lightning, which of them fared the best?

      “May you live in interesting times.”

      • commandant says:

        I think the Sabres fared the best of those teams. I wasn’t as down on Grigorenko as others were. He was a dominant player who hurt his ankle at the WJC, and then once he recovered from that, got Mono. I don’t think he should have fallen past 6 or 7. I think they got a real steal.

        In Girgensons they got another good centre, and turned an organizational weakness (young centre) into a strength, especially when we add Cody Hodgson too.

        The Caps also got a steal in Forsberg, but I hate the Tom Wilson pick. OVERRATED is the word that comes to mind on Wilson.

        Go Habs Go!
        Check out Top Shelf Prospects, my Team by Team prospect reports

  7. frankcasting says:

    Had Rogie remained a Hab, he would be held in the same esteem as Dryden is today. Dryden would not have enjoyed the leverage he used to get that fancy contract after sitting out a year and subjecting fans to Wayne Thomas had Vachon still been around; Ken might have remained a footnote in Habs history. #29 was simply the luckiest goalie alive, he landed on a team that could have won with anyone between the pipes from ’76 onward. Vachon, in his place, would have made them even greater.

    Loving the Habs since 1965

    • commandant says:

      Sure, maybe any goalie would have won from 76 onwards.

      But does the team win without Dryden in 71? Absolutely not.

      Does the team win without Dryden in 73? Probably not.

      Don’t underestimate Ken Dryden’s importance.

      Go Habs Go!
      Check out Top Shelf Prospects, my Team by Team prospect reports

    • neumann103 says:

      This is delusional.

      A solid case can be made that Dryden was overrated by virtue of having the best hockey team ever in front of him. While I ama big Dryden fan I don’t get up in arms if people leave him out of Top 5 or Top 10 lists on that basis.

      But Rogie better than Kenny? Come on. Chris had a list below of some of Vachon’s contemporaries, and he probably does slide in somewhere between Chico Resch and Don Edwards.

      “Et le but!”

  8. --Habs-- says:

    I’m going to put my head on the line on HIO! But if I could bet and I could reverse time I’d bet Vachon would have been a better goalie in nets for the Habs over the 70’s decade than Dryden. I guess the best way to put it was Vachon was a great goalie playing on mediocre teams thru the 70’s while Dryden but for 1 series in 71 was a good solid goalie on an even better team 76 – 79 especially! I can remember the 8 loss season when Dryden was asleep in nets on some of those losses where he had 20 shots against while the Habs has 35 – 40 peppering the opposition. Imagine an alert Vachon. Maybe the the Habs would have lost 1 or 2 by accident and instead of 12 ties only 1 or 2 with a superstar goalie like Vachon.

    Go HABS Go

  9. Bobby Smith says:

    You can tell by Roagie’s stance in the photo just how good a skater he was. The left leg looking to find the post…the right pushing him towards the post… the stance low and powerful.

    • Lafleurguy says:

      Nice spelling of Rogatien’s name; makes me want to make a hero sandwich.

      “May you live in interesting times.”

      • Habfan10912 says:

        :). As the king of typos, I am not qualified to critique others but I have to admit I sure could go for a big sandwich.
        Good morning by the way.


        • Lafleurguy says:

          Howdy Doody J.! Windy place you live in, with Tornadoes too! I know which New York State NFL team you’ll be pulling for. By the way, when a Bills player takes a knee, he wants to get the ball on the twenty, so no need to have respectful silence. (Sorry this last one is more like a disrespectful wisecrack)

  10. Hobie Hansen says:

    Man oh man did Patrick Roy’s sudden departure totally screw over Montreal for many years. He was 29 or 30 when he left and as we saw in Colorado, he could have made the Habs a force to be reckon with in the playoffs for almost another decade.

    If you look back at some of the forwards Montreal had into the late 90s you would think that with a goaltender like Roy the Habs could do well.

    Not having a top quality goaltender is a recipe for disaster than can set your franchise back a decade.

    Three years after Roy left the Habs had Vincent Damphousse, Mark Recchi, Saku Koivu, Shayne Corson, Brian Savage…all still fairly young and playing well. They also had some real grinders and character guys, like the 93 cup winning team.

    Looking back, the one thing Montreal should have done immediately after losing Roy was to trade the farm for another elite goalie.

    Not that Carey Price is close to Roy at this point, but if something bad ever happens with Price’s employment with Montreal, the Habs better go out and trade as many 1st rounders as it takes to get one of the better goalies in a Montreal uniform.

    Not having a top quality goaltender on your team is a clear cut way to lose.

    • Chris says:

      The goaltender was not the problem. A defence corps of Peter Popovic, J.J. Daigneault, Patrice Brisebois, Yves Racine, Lyle Odelein, and Vladimir Malakhov was in place in the lockout season of 1994-95 and Roy suffered one of the worst statistical seasons of his career (17-20-6, 2.97 GAA, 0.906 SV% and only 1 shutout).

      The following seasons were not much better. I truly believe that Roy instigated his departure because he could see what was obvious to everybody else: his career was going nowhere if he stayed in Montreal behind that porous defence. The Montreal defence corps of the mid 1990’s made a goalie as elite as Patrick Roy look pedestrian and basically ruined Jocelyn Thibault’s career.

      Had they kept Desjardins and Schneider, I wonder whether we would be having these conversations about the loss of Roy 20 years later or if Thibault might have panned out.

      • Chrisadiens says:

        I wish I shared your intelligence along with your name Chris. Your posts are always well written and coherent. You are one of my favorite posters. Your confidence can sometimes be misconstrued as arrogant but you are always willing to discuss arguments with class.

        Chrisadiens and HabFan10912, one of the few father son tandems on HIO.

      • VancouverHab says:

        Dear Chris:

        You are the right person to ask this question of: Odelein, Daignault, Malakov –would you not want them (per impossible) on today’s Habs? Add Subban, Markov & Gorges and (I ask in ignorance) is that not a sound defense?

        • Chris says:

          The funny thing is that we might already have those guys you mention in different forms.

          For example, Odelein played a similar game to Alexei Emelin, albeit he fought more and better. Emelin is limited by the metal plate in his face after getting destroyed by Alexander Svitov a few years ago in a fight. Odelein’s career took a while to get going, but once he found his way (partially due to the influence of a coach, Jacques Demers, who gave him increasing duties as his confidence developed) he was a very steady, capable top-4 defenceman.

          J.J. Daigneault was a steady, unspectacular defenceman who could eat some minutes but who was undersized and easily muscled off the puck. For me, this sums up Raphael Diaz as well, although I think that Diaz might have a bit more offensive upside than Daigneault did.

          Malakhov is the tougher one. Kaberle has his offence and skating ability, but Malakhov could also be a dominant defensive defenceman when the mood took him. Unfortunately, he just didn’t show a lot of motivation during his Montreal years. But there is nobody on the roster that has a similar combination of size and talent on the Montreal defence corps except for perhaps Subban. Malakhov was the Alex Kovalev of the mid-1990’s Habs. He teased you with his ridiculous skill, but ultimately his Montreal legacy is “What if?”.

          I think this year’s defence group has all the potential to be better than those guys in the 1990’s provided that Markov can remain healthy for the year and eat 20 minutes per game. Markov’s return puts everybody back into roles for which they are better suited and avoids having guys playing in roles beyond their current capability.

          Patrice Brisebois was a good defenceman who was asked to play too much and above his skills. That he did it for so long is a testament to how hard he worked, but had he been playing behind Desjardins or Schneider on the second pairing, he would have had a very nice career without all the negative comments following him around.

      • VancouverHab says:

        Weird duplication.

      • Cal says:

        Was Roy that elite if he couldn’t backstop an “ordinary” defense? He won in Colorado with a group of stars in front of him led by Sakic and Forsberg. Hell, they brought Ray Bourque in and still didn’t win that first season he was there.

        • Chris says:

          That’s always been one of my complaints…I think there are far fewer “elite” goalies than people have made out. In some cases, we never see them without their strong supporting cast. Ken Dryden played most of his career behind one of the best defence corps ever, so it is fair to ask what he would have looked like playing with Los Angeles or Washington instead of the perennial Stanley Cup contending Montreal Canadiens.

          More recently, careers have extended and we get to see how some guys deal with adversity. Behind Scott Stevens, Scott Niedermayer, Ken Daneyko, Lyle Odelein (in his prime), Brian Rafalski and the coaching of Jacques Lemaire, Martin Brodeur looked like the best goaltender in history. But when those guys all left, Brodeur actually looked very ordinary…was it just age, or did he no longer have the stellar supporting cast to minimize his exposure? We’ll never know.

          Roy’s got the Stanley Cups and Conn Smythe trophies to have earned the elite tag. But how much better an “elite” goalie is than a more ordinary guy like say Curtis Joseph or Andy Moog is up for debate.

  11. chinahab says:

    When will we care about any non-retiree who’s donned a Habs’ uniform. I guess Patrick Roy is the exception. Mediocrity for too long….

  12. Habby_Haberton says:

    Birthdays Inside Out?

  13. Psycho29 says:

    Hey guys I just found this rare gem on EBAY…..If you have a few bucks lying around, take a look. The good news is there’s free shipping!

    • RGM says:

      Drop a bank of those zeroes and change the 1 to a 3 and you’ve actually got a reasonable deal. When it comes to hockey cards, Ken Dryden’s signature is about as rare as they come because he has only once ever signed a set of cards, and that was way back in 1992. While you can always ask him to sign stuff on a photo, and he’ll usually even personalize it for you, when it comes to the card companies he decided a long, long time ago that he doesn’t want people profiting off his name.

      GO HABS GO! Maybe 2012-13 will be our year!
      “Scott Gomez is an elite NHL player” – VancouverHab

      Chat with me on Twitter @TheRealRGM81

  14. otter649 says:

    Tonight The Old Maple Leaf Gardens re-opens after being re-furbished as the new hockey home of Ryerson University Rams after many years (since 1999) being unused…….

  15. JayK-47 says:

    On duty on a quiet Saturday and I have to wait until TOMORROW for the next Top Shelf Prospects AND eotp #1 25 under 25?

    Life stinks…

  16. HardHabits says:

    I just thought I’d stop by to say “hi” to all y’all folks. Hope all is well in Hockey Limbo. Montreal needs another Junior team.

  17. HIO has got to get better, the stories are getting more boring each day!…there is so much going on with our prospects…they should start working…it isn’t normal that I have way more Habs news stories on my site than the Gazette, La Presse, and Journal de Montreal combined!

    The greatest Canadiens and NHL news-site:
    Twitter: @teliopost

    • 24 Cups says:

      If you don’t like it here then why don’t you advertise your site somewhere else?

      Truth be told, there is very little hockey news right now of any real significance.

      • 24 Cups…why are you so defensive? Fact is crappy story after crappy story about Rogie Vachon birthdays and the like is boring.
        I’m here for the good stories. My criticism is valid. Sorry if you think a Rogie Vachon re-post is good reporting.

        The greatest Canadiens and NHL news-site:
        Twitter: @teliopost

        • Ron says:

          I don’t think 24 is being defensive about anything. In fact it is your comment saying so that is on the defensive. He is correct though that you are pushing your blog or site as being the good deal and the Gazette as being just filling pages.

          • chinahab says:

            There is no news around, so what are they supposed to do? On the other hand, I’ve enjoyed Eyes On The Prize top 25 players under 25 (no, I don’t work or write for the site!). Gazette could try some imaginative things like that, I guess, but traditional media is mostly reactive: game happens, they cover it; hockey strike happens, they cover golf.

          • I mean he is jumping to HIO defense the second I give the smallest bit of critisism which is entirely justified IMHO. I think the criticism was valid, and so do others.

            i love HIO, but lets be honest, “Rogie Vachon celebrates birthday’ is not what we are expecting. They can do better than that. I want the best product for HIO.

            The greatest Canadiens and NHL news-site:
            Twitter: @teliopost

    • Kooch7800 says:

      Just checked out your Site. Nice work

      • Thanks Kooch7800…much appreciated…I try to keep it updated and have received (almost) unanimous praise from HIO fans.
        We had 166,000 hits in August and we just started it in July so we are really blown away by the response in such a short period of time.
        The greatest Canadiens and NHL news-site:
        Twitter: @teliopost

        • punkster says:

          Well to be fair you don’t do anything more than pull down everyone’s article, post, tweet or blog page that mentions Canadiens or Habs, do you? Where are your stories about our prospects, your stories about our players, your unique angles to our team? Count me on the “Non” side.

          ***Subbang Baby!!!***

          • Commandant and Punkster, what you say is fair. We collect all the best links and bring them together for you. We don’t claim to write new stories, (we leave that to the Pro’s and pundits and then we link to them).

            The greatest Canadiens and NHL news-site:
            Twitter: @teliopost

        • Ron says:

          Where do you feel you have received almost unanimous praise from HIO members. I’ve seen nothing on here that would support that claim. I went onto your blog tonight to see what you are raving about. I cannot see any comments to any of the articles you have reposted from other venues so where is all this praise you talk about ?

    • commandant says:

      Considering that you link every hockey post from those 3 newspapers linked on your site. Plus you have other stories linked too, of course you have more stories on your site than those 3 combined. Its not rocket science.

      Not that this is a bad thing. I’m just saying you are a one-stop shop for content from those places and others.

      Go Habs Go!
      Check out Top Shelf Prospects, my Team by Team prospect reports

    • Timo says:

      No kidding… with all the money we’re paying and all you’d think HIO could put some effort into it.

    • chanchilla says:

      i’ll try to sound as little rude as i can when i say this, but i’d rather look at this boring news than your site any day of the week. it makes my brain hurt the way it is laid out.

  18. commandant says:

    Max’s Standings Predictions for the West are out

    Go Habs Go!
    Check out Top Shelf Prospects, my Team by Team prospect reports

  19. HabFab says:

    RenLavoieRDS – No face-to-face discussion today between the NHL and NHLPA. Maybe Sunday.

    @Real_ESPNLeBrun: Daly and S Fehr spoke briefly today, NHL and NHLPA will not meet today. May touch base tomorrow.

    @aaronward_nhl: At this point,PA has 200 players confirmed,expects many more to decide to attend NYC meeting.Anticipation NHL/NHLPA to meet Sunday.

  20. Habitant in Surrey says:

    …I certainly support Dave Stubb’s activism for ‘Rogie’ to be in the Hockey Hall Of Fame, just as I supported his passion for Elmer’s number retired by Our Habs

    …it would be ever better to see Dave using His soapbox to right an even more outstanding wrong

    …that is Campaign To Retire Toe’s Number 6 !!!

  21. otter649 says:

    So who are the players shown in the photo ? Taking a cue from Romper Room I see (I think) – Vachon-Noel Price-Ted Harris & possibly Ralph Backstrom & maybe Ab McDonald (Wings)…..

  22. pH-Habs says:

    Interesting read…

    They place Kaberle 7th in the northeast. Numbers lie?!

    • Phil C says:

      I have to say I am cautiously optimistic about Kaberle this season. He is in shape again as he looked good in the Biosteel camp highlights that are on youtube. He is coming off an embarrassingly bad season, so he must be motivated. I really think he will have a bounce-back season. If he can play meaningful top four minutes while helping the powerplay, the Habs may surprise a lot of people this season.

      • commandant says:

        Kaberle has always put up points. Even in Boston he put up points. In Montreal he was on pace for 45 points over 82 games. (only 11 D in the entire NHL scored 45 points last year).

        He is a good offensive D who is weak defensively. Thats what he is. Other than 2 bad months in Carolina, he’s produced throughout his career.

        I don’t see him playing top 4 minutes at ES though. I see him on the bottom pair, and he should be put with a good defensive partner, not Chris Campoli like he was last year which was a giant coaching error by Cunneyworth.

        Go Habs Go!
        Check out Top Shelf Prospects, my Team by Team prospect reports

        • Phil C says:

          Kaberle has been weak defensively recently, but he is a plus player for his career while playing top-two minutes in the past, so I would say he is just not strong defensively. I would put him in the same category as other offensive defensemen like Karlsson, Letang, and Wideman who play top-two minutes, but sometimes struggle in their own end defensively. As long as they are not a defensive liability, what they bring offensively is usually worth the trade off.

          There are precious few defensemen in the league who are good at both ends of the ice and they are usually Norris candidates. In Montreal’s case, I am not convinced Emelin is ready for a top four role as he was wildly inconsistent last year,looking like a stud one game while looking like a pylon the next. This makes me think Emelin could still benefit from one more year having his minutes managed carefully on the third pairing.

          If Kaberle is back in top form physically, you could do worse than Kaberle and Gorges as your second pairing. Then Subban could play with a veteran like Markov which could result in some great synergy between uber-talented players.

          • neumann103 says:

            He has always put up points, and he has generally been defensively good. Living about 2 miles from the ACC in the heart of Delusion-Town I got to see a fair amount of Kaberle. He was undoubtedly the Leafs best D man for 5 or 6 years, and a lot of the time he was not only the top offensive Dman but certainly in the upper half of the D corps defensively. He is a smart hockey player and the ability to anticipate the play, gain possession in your own end and pass or rush it out makes up for a lot.

            I was not a fan of the Habs picking up Kaberle but that was about term and salary. If he had 0.5 seasons left on his contract I think it would have been a fantastic move.

            “Et le but!”

  23. commandant says:

    That “Junior B level goalie” turned out pretty good in the end.

    Go Habs Go!
    Check out Top Shelf Prospects, my Team by Team prospect reports

  24. Chris says:

    strange double post.

  25. Chris says:

    Regarding Vachon’s suitability for the Hall of Fame, I guess it comes down to how people saw Vachon versus his peers at the time.

    Vachon’s peak years were in the 1970’s. His Vezina Trophy came in the 1967-68 season, although it should be noted that the Vezina Trophy was NOT given to the best goaltender in the league in those days, but to the goaltenders on the team that had the best goals against average that season. The Vezina Trophy was what is now the Jennings Trophy. In Vachon’s case, he split the goaltending load with Gump Worsley at the end of his illustrious career, and Worsley was statistically superior (19-9-8, 1.98 GAA and 6 SO in 40 games) to Vachon (23-13-2, 2.48 GAA, 4 SO in 39 games) despite being two decades older.

    Who were the best goaltenders in the 1970’s?

    One way to look at that would be to examine the NHL First and Second All-Star Teams throughout Vachon’s career, which were selected by the hockey media.

    Vachon was twice named to the Second All-Star Team, but was never selected to the First All-Star Team. During his career, which spanned from 1966-67 to 1981-82, here are the season ending All-Star team selections:

    Ken Dryden – five-time 1st Team, once 2nd Team
    Tony Esposito – three-time 1st Team, twice 2nd Team
    Ed Giacomin – twice 1st Team, three-time 2nd Team
    Bernie Parent – twice 1st Team
    Glenn Hall – once 1st Team, once 2nd Team
    Gump Worsley – once 1st Team
    Mike Liut – once 1st Team (plus a 2nd Team later in his career)
    Billy Smith – once 1st Team
    Rogatien Vachon – twice 2nd Team
    Chico Resch – twice 2nd Team
    Don Edwards – twice 2nd Team
    Jacques Plante – once 2nd Team
    Mario Lessard – once 2nd Team
    Grant Fuhr – once 2nd Team (plus a 1st Team later in his career)

    Looking at that list, it is a bit hard for me to argue that Rogie Vachon deserves to be considered one of the timeless goaltenders of his era. Was Vachon really all that much better than a guy like Chico Resch, whose career numbers are tainted by being stuck on some of the most woeful teams in history (the early 1980’s Colorado Rockies/New Jersey Devils)? Resch’s numbers with the pre-dynasty Islanders certainly look sparkling: from 1975-76, Vachon put together a 103-40-31 record and an excellent 2.35 GAA over 178 games played.

    For me, Vachon was somewhat equivalent to a guy like Mike Richter in the 1990’s. Both were very good goalies that most teams would have been happy to have.

    But Richter was never quite at the level of his main rivals (Patrick Roy, Dominik Hasek, Ed Belfour, Martin Brodeur) and will probably never get into the Hall of Fame.

    Vachon is probably viewed as part of a second group of goaltenders behind the elite guys of his era: Ken Dryden, Tony Esposito and Bernie Parent. And rightly or wrongly, Vladislav Tretiak is usually put in that list, perceived by many as perhaps the best goaltender in the world, regardless of the fact that he never played in the NHL.

    There are only 36 (a few of which were inducted for reasons other than their goaltending, such as James Patrick or Percy LeSueur) goaltenders in the Hall of Fame, with 3-5 from each decade. From the era in which Vachon played, Giacomin, Dryden, Esposito, Parent and Gerry Cheevers are already in the Hall of Fame. I would have put Vachon in ahead of Cheevers if I was a voter, but I could also make a strong argument that neither guy belonged.

    Given the lowering of the bar for players like Bernie Federko or Dino Ciccarelli, very good players that were never thought of as one of the top 3 or 4 at their position during their careers, you could certainly argue that Vachon should perhaps be given the benefit of the doubt that they’ve already given Gerry Cheevers.

    But then we also have to open up that same scrutiny to similar players from other eras. What about John Vanbiesbrouck, Mike Vernon, Tom Barrasso, Andy Moog, Mike Richter? What about a guy like Chris Osgood, who in my mind was never an elite goalie but who has a ridiculous pedigree in terms of career statistics and Stanley Cups?

    What about somebody like Sean Burke, who was always a very good goalie but spent the vast majority of his career on abysmal teams?

    I’m glad I’m not a Hall of Fame voter!

    • commandant says:

      The difficult thing is that the Hockey Hall of Fame, long ago became the “Hockey Hall of Pretty Good but Not Great Players”.

      Compared to other sports the HHOF is the easiest of the four major sports to gain admission to. It really should be just for elite players, but its never been about that.

      When Mats Sundin is a first ballot guy, we have a problem. First ballot guys should be reserved for the Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Bobby Orr, Patrick Roy, Rocket Richard, Gordie Howe, Guy Lafleur, Jean Beliveau, Dominik Hasek, etc… Guys who have a legitimate claim at top 5 ever at their position.

      Guys who were merely very good and not great… not contending for 1st team all-star spots, and Hart/Norris/Vezina trophies throughout their career probably shouldn’t get in.

      Go Habs Go!
      Check out Top Shelf Prospects, my Team by Team prospect reports

      • SmartDog says:

        Good post.

        Sundin’s first ballot entry shocked me. It totally took the shine out of the HHOF for me – I don’t care anymore.

        Listen to the Smart Dog. He knows his poop!

      • Chris says:

        I’ve always throught that the idea that the Hockey Hall of Fame is that much easier to get into is a bit weird.

        The Hockey Hall of Fame has broader criteria. The Pro Football Hall of Fame and National Baseball Hall of Fame are often held up as the benchmarks, but they don’t have to worry about international players (football and baseball don’t have nearly the pool or countries from which to draw players, oficials (PFHOF doesn’t induct any, precious few from NBHOF) or women. That limits the pool tremendously.

        Football and baseball don’t have to factor in international play, where players can expand their profile.

        So let’s look at the league breakdowns:

        National Baseball Hall of Fame:
        Inaugural Class: 1939

        236 players
        20 managers
        9 umpires
        32 pioneers and executives

        Hockey Hall of Fame:
        Inaugural Class: 1945

        251 players (2 women)
        100 builders (owners, coaches, league officials, and individuals who have developed hockey on the whole, not just professional hockey, such as Father David Bauer)
        15 on-ice officials

        Pro Football Hall of Fame:
        Inaugural Class: 1963

        21 coaches
        19 contributors
        233 players

        Basketball Hall of Fame:
        Inaugural Class: 1959

        152 players
        85 coaches
        3 players/coaches
        60 contributors
        14 referees
        9 teams

        When you compare how long the various Hall of Fames have been operating, the relative length of careers and the number of possible players (and possible “impact” players) on each team, the numbers don’t really bear out all that much evidence of a strong tendency of the Hockey Hall of Fame to have this low bar that people talk about.

        There are some dud picks in all of the Hall of Fame’s, and some very deserving omissions. It is the nature of the beast. I’m not crazy about Bernie Federko being a Hall of Famer, but I’m not a voter. The fact that a guy like Barry Larkin gets into the Hall of Fame on the third ballot but Tim Raines still can’t get past 50% is a travesty.

        What I will say is that I have zero patience for the “first-ballot” nonsense. You either think a guy is a Hall of Fame calibre player, or you don’t. Leaving them off ballots early on and having them “earn” their way in is just the voters playing games to make themselves important. I find it ludicrous personally…what changes your mind from one year to the next? Barry Larkin got 51.7% in his first year of eligibility and then 86.4% in his third year to be selected. What did I miss? Larkin is still retired. Nothing changed, so I can only conclude that it is sheer stupidity by 35% of the baseball voters who are laying silly games so that we can have discussions about first-ballot versus non first-ballot inductees. Every guy that voted for Larkin this year and didn’t in past years should be banned from voting because they are clearly playing games.

        As for Sundin, there is absolutely zero doubt in my mind that he is a Hall of Fame player when you factor in his NHL performance, his absolutely stellar international performances and his contributions to Swedish hockey.

        • neumann103 says:

          I have previously posted my feelings on The Dino Ciccarelli Rule so I will limit this to the interesting comparison of various sports’ HoF.

          I think it is fair to say that given variances in number of years of HoF selection and roster sizes in the various sports the HHoF is a little more inclusive of players than the shrines in Cooperstown or Canton.

          But the real outlier is the “Builder” category. No other sport has comparable numbers of non-players and most of the other sports are more focused on actual role players like coaches.

          People can make the argument that Pat Burns does not belong in the HoF on the basis of how few coaches actually are enshrined. My point is that there probably should be fewer NHL executives and cronies and more coaches.

          The slap in the face to a dying Pat Burns is not mitigated by the absence of lots of good coaches in the HoF, it is exacerbated by the fact that they found room to include a former part-owner of the Calgary Flames in that precious “Builder” slot.

          The HHoF should have an explicit category for coaches and managers and scale back the BS of cronies.

          “Et le but!”

      • Un Canadien errant says:

        Once Dino Ciccarelli was inducted, it removed a lot of the luster and meaning of the HOF.

        • Chris says:

          Yet when you look at what he did well (scoring goals), he belongs.

          He is 17th all-time in goals scored (and was even higher before a slew of guys hit 600+ recently).

          The knock is he is only there because he played so long, but he actually missed a lot of games throughout his career so his goals per game average remains quite high. Better than contemporaries like Luc Robitaille, Steve Yzerman, Joe Mullen, Jari Kurri, Joe Nieuwendyk, Glenn Anderson and Dale Hawerchuk, all of whom are in the Hall of Fame.

          He was a giant jerk throughout his career, but he was a heck of a goal scorer for somebody who you never noticed unless you were trying to kill him. He was a 40-50 goal scoring pest.

          • commandant says:

            He scored a lot of goals in the highest scoring era in hockey history though. Is he a 600 goal guy if he plays in the 90s instead of the 80s?

            Go Habs Go!
            Check out Top Shelf Prospects, my Team by Team prospect reports

          • Chris says:

            Ben: That was why I compared him to high scoring hall of fame players from the same era. Nonetheless, he scored 35 goals with a terrible Tampa Bay Lightning team in 1996-97 at age 36. He might not have hit 50 goals in the 90’s, but he would still have been good to 40-50 in that era based on his shot and his willingness to go to the front of the net on the power play.

            Ciccarelli might be the best garbage goal player of the past 30 years. That kind of skill translates across the years better than somebody like Guy Lafleur, who scored many goals off shots that would never beat a modern-era butterfly goalie wearing oversized equipment.

          • Un Canadien errant says:

            Chris, you’re trying to use logic on me, but I refuse to see that Dino Ciccarelli was anything but a repugnant creep. He sullies the HOF by his very presence.

            The only way he could have been a worse human being is if he had been a Nordique.

          • neumann103 says:

            I generally don’t hold a player’s off ice actions against him for things like HoF consideration. If he was a cheap shot artist on the ice, or screwed players out of money or endangered their health recklessly, I definitely consider that. So Bobby Clarke would never get my vote because his offenses were on the ice or directly affected hockey and hockey players. While I think things like being a virulent racist or a child molester are much worse than being a poor sportsman, the being a poor sportsman thing is actually more of a limiter on things like HoF selection. Now I have no information that Dino was ever a racist…

            Anyhow my objection to Ciccarelli as I posted it a couple of days ago …

            The Dino Ciccarelli Rule was inadvertently created by that player’s Enshrinement in the HHoF.

            In practice that rule goes like this:

            Hockey Fan #1: “Player X belongs in the Hall of Fame.”
            Hockey Fan #2: “While Player X undoubtedly was an excellent player and was highly productive over a long career he really does not rank among the all time greats. He was rarely if ever a true Elite player and often not even one of the best two or three players on his team.”
            Hockey Fan #1: “Dino Ciccarelli is in the Hall of Fame”
            Hockey Fan #2: “ummmmmmmm….never mind”

            “Et le but!”

        • frontenac1 says:

          Yeah,and Eddie Balfour?!!

    • VancouverHab says:

      Dear Chris:

      Good facts & logic. I’m going to say that Vachon’s ’76 Series triumph is wild card strong enough to put him the Hall–and the cachet of playing for the Habs so strongly in a golden period for the league.

      Halls should be about the ineffable as well as brute number…

      (PS: I do agree with the reply above re. 1st ballot entries.)

    • neumann103 says:

      My hockey viewing began right around the time Vachon was traded to the Kings. My partial view of his career may therefore be skewed. Maybe he was better in his first seasons, but to me he would rank near the bottom of Chris’s list above.

      Other than Mario Lessard (whose name honestly does not even ring a bell) I have very vivid first hand memories of all of the goalies with the exception maybe of Glenn Hall. Plante and Worsley were at the end of their careers. So while I missed them at their peak, that trio is a pretty non-controversial HoF group.

      Eddie Giacomin was one of my favourite non-Habs of the 1970s, but I would not have picked him for the HoF and I think of him as better than Vachon.

      Bernie Parent was much better than Vachon. He was a top 3 in the league goalie for a significant period.

      Billy Smith? Way better than Vachon. Chico Resch, probably. Mike Liut? Never liked him for some reason, but probably him too.

      Don Edwards actually looks like the closest comparable on this list and I don’t think of him as a HoF’er.

      Now if you want to consider someone’s record as a player AND contribution as a Builder, I can easily see how that would push Rogie over the humpin many voters eyes. But that seems not to be the way the HHoF works. More on “Builders” later on in thread.

      “Et le but!”

  26. Timo says:

    Are we going to announce EVERY ex Habs player birthday now? When is Turner Stevenson’s birthday?

  27. JohnBellyful says:

    Happy birthday, Rogie.
    I got to admit, though, when I see your name and the number 67 it brings back bad memories.

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