Why Isn’t Rogie Vachon in the Hall of Fame?
Sitting on the couch this Saturday in full hangover mode, I pulled out the laptop and started Googling former Los Angeles Kings greats (yeah, I know). When I hit the name of Rogie Vachon and took a refresher look at his stats, it struck me that these are no mortal, run-of-the-mill goaltender stats (again, thank you Captain Obvious). My question is: why the hell isn’t Rogie Vachon in the Hockey Hall of Fame?
Let’s take just a cursory glance at Rogie’s NHL stats. In 795 career games played, Vachon was 355-291-127 with a 2.99 Goals Against Average. He won three Stanley Cups with the Montreal Canadiens. He was a four-time NHL All-Star. He shared the Vezina Trophy with Gump Worsley in 1967-68. He was the runner-up for the Hart Trophy in 1974-75. He was the Kings’ MVP five times. His number was retired by the LA Kings in 1985 (making his jersey the first to be retired by Los Angeles). He never allowed a penalty shot in his entire career. His international play was also stellar. As a member of Team Canada in the 1976 Canada Cup, Vachon posted a 6-1 record (two of those games were shutouts) with a 1.39 Goals Against Average. He was also named MVP of Team Canada as well as goaltender of competition.
With so much success with the beloved Montreal Canadiens organization, how did Vachon become a member of the Los Angeles Kings? After a stellar 1970-71 season with Montreal, Vachon was relieved of starting his starting duties when Ken Dryden was called up to give Vachon a break. Dryden had an excellent showing and was given the start in the playoffs.
Vachon, still a great starting goaltender, asked for a trade and was moved south to join the LA Kings on November 4th, 1971 for Dale Hoganson, Doug Robinson, Denis DeJordy and Noel Price. In the 1972-73 season, Rogie helped improve the Kings by 24 points. Los Angeles won games because Rogie would stand on his head to win them (when is the last time the Los Angeles Kings could say that). The offense around him, unfortunately, was virtually non-existent. Los Angeles would make regular appearances in the Stanley Cup playoffs during Vachon’s tenure but only made it past the first round once (1975-76).
I argue that Rogie Vachon is not a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame because he was a member of the Los Angeles Kings. He played with the team when they were at the pique of obscurity. If you think the LA Kings are bottom-feeders now, you should have seen them in the 1970′s. No one knew who they were.
If you compare Rogie Vachon to some of his contemporaries, his stats are not off by a long-shot. Lifetime, Rogie was GP 795, W 355, L 291, T 127, GAA 2.99. Gerry Cheevers, a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame had impressive stats at GP 609, W 289, L 209, T 96, GAA 2.87. So did Ken Dryden at GP 397, W 258, L 57, T 74, GAA 2.24. Eddie Giacomin, also inducted, had GP 609, W 289, L 209, T 96, GAA 2.87. Now I certainly would not take away anything from the aforementioned goalie greats but Rogie’s right up there with them…right?
Off the ice, Vachon has been an ambassador to the Los Angeles Kings and still makes regular appearances with the team. He served as the Kings general manager from 1984 through 1992. He has also served as the head coach. Who can forget the Stogie with Rogie event a few years ago? The point is, Rogie Vachon was not only a great player, but also went on to a successful career off the ice in the National Hockey League.
Call me a jaded Los Angeles Kings fan but I just don’t understand why he hasn’t gone into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Rogie Vachon retired at the end of the 1982 season with the Boston Bruins. Where there really no spots for him in 17 years?
If Rogie Vachon stayed with the Montreal Canadiens, or was traded to a traditional hockey market, would he already be in the Hockey Hall of Fame? I think so but, hey, maybe it’s just me.
Tell you what, the Hockey Hall of Fame accepts letters from anyone and everyone with suggestions on who should go into the hall. If one person on the committee agrees, it becomes up for discussion. I promise to send this with your comments. Let’s hear your thoughts and get Rogie Vachon where he should be…in the Hall of Fame.
Keith Korneluk is a co-host for the KingsCast Hockey Podcast. Follow him on Twitter.