About these ads

Open Letter To The Hockey Hall of Fame: Address The Injustice and Induct Rogie Vachon

Rogie Vachon
Photo courtesy: Los Angeles Kings

LOS ANGELES — Over the last handful of years, I have written a few times about former Los Angeles Kings goaltender Rogie Vachon, who became the team’s first superstar after coming to the Kings from the storied Montreal Canadiens, where he won three Stanley Cup Championships.

In a word, Vachon was brilliant. Based on his record alone, he should have been a shoo-in to be inducted into the hallowed halls of the Hockey Hall of Fame (HHOF).

Despite that, Vachon remains on the outside looking in, primarily because those outside of the Los Angeles area rarely got to see him play—he never got the exposure in Canada or in Eastern Time Zone cities that he needed.

For those of you who may be unfamiliar with Vachon, or would like to know more, the following stories detail his accomplishments, and include comments from the man himself, based on exclusive interviews.

Vachon was first eligible for HHOF induction in 1987. That was 26 years ago, and I first made the case for his induction back in 1998, and I did so again about four years ago (see the first story listed above). I now realize that even though I made the case for his induction, all I did was publish a story about it. Of course, that is what a journalist does, right?

But in this case, the evidence is overwhelming. As such, I believe that I need to take this a step further, so I have decided to use that evidence and take the case to the Hockey Hall of Fame’s Selection Committee.

The following is the text of a letter I have sent to Jim Gregory and to Pat Quinn, Co-Chairs of the Selection Committee, urging them to induct Vachon as an Honored Member in the Players Category this year.

If you find the evidence I presented to be convincing, I urge you to write your own letter (it should be addressed to both Co-Chairs) in support of Vachon’s induction.

We may be his last chance to right this terrible injustice.

NOTE: If you intend to write a letter in support of Vachon, please note that time is short, as submissions from people outside of the HHOF Selection Committee must gain the support of at least one member of the Committee, and be submitted as a written nomination by a member by the April 15, 2013 deadline. Given that it could take some negotiating and arm-twisting among Committee members, there is no time to lose in sending your letters.


 

February 8, 2013

 

Jim Gregory
Co-Chair, Selection Committee
Hockey Hall of Fame
Brookfield Place
30 Yonge Street
Toronto, ON Canada
M5E 1X8

Dear Mr. Gregory:

I write to urge the Hockey Hall of Fame (HHOF) Selection Committee to induct former National Hockey League goaltender Rogatien “Rogie” Vachon as an Honored Member in the Players category this year.

Although there are worthy candidates for induction every year, Vachon’s induction should be a priority, if for nothing else, to address the injustice that he was not inducted long ago.

Vachon won the Vezina Trophy in 1968, sharing it with Montreal Canadiens teammate Gump Worsley. He is also a three-time Stanley Cup winner with Montreal, and he led Canada to victory in the 1976 Canada Cup tournament with a 1.39 goals-against average (GAA), a .963 save percentage and two shutouts. Those stellar numbers earned him Best Goalie of the tournament honors, and he was named the Most Valuable Player for Canada.

In 1998, Vachon ranked fifth all-time in career NHL wins with 355. At that time, only Glenn Hall (407), Tony Esposito (423), Jacques Plante (434) and Terry Sawchuk (447) had more—all are honored members. Twelve HHOF goalies had fewer wins than Vachon.

Today, Vachon ranks 16th all-time in career wins, having been passed by several younger goalies including Patrick Roy, Martin Brodeur, Grant Fuhr, and Dominik Hasek. Further, seven other HHOF goalies among the top all-time leaders in career wins rank behind Vachon, and a considerable number of goalies who are honored members are not even on the list, yet Vachon remains on the outside looking in.

To further place Vachon’s achievements in the proper context:

  • Vachon ranks 23rd all-time in shutouts. All-time great goalies like Bill Durnan, Johnny Bower, Frank Brimsek, Chuck Gardiner, Worsley and Ken Dryden have all been inducted into the HHOF, yet Vachon has not, despite ranking ahead of them.
  • Vachon was the runner-up to Bernie Parent for the Vezina Trophy in 1975, even though many contend that Vachon should have won it with a league-leading .926 save percentage and a 2.24 goals-against average (second in the NHL that season).

If you compare Vachon with the star goalies of the same era, Gerry Cheevers, Dryden, Esposito, Eddie Giacomin, Parent, Billy Smith, and Worsley (each is an honored member), Vachon is:

  • Third in games played. Only Esposito and Worsley played in more games.
  • Second in wins. Only Esposito won more games.
  • Fourth in shutouts. Only Giacomin, Parent and Esposito have more.
  • Fifth in winning percentage. Only Giacomin, Esposito and Dryden were better.

After being traded to Los Angeles, Vachon was brilliant, a bright spot on a mostly bad team. He single-handedly won many games, often making the second, third and fourth saves, leading opponents to flail their arms in frustration, or skate away with their jaws agape in amazement.

To be sure, the Kings were often so bad during his tenure that Vachon’s numbers are that much more incredible. He earned a 2.86 GAA with the Kings, and during the 1974-75 season, he earned an even more impressive 2.24 GAA (a Kings record) and had a .926 save percentage—the latter would be the Kings’ all-time record, but the league did not start keeping save percentage records until the 1982-83 season.

Response from the Hockey Hall of Fame
to letter published above.
(click to view)

Unfortunately, unless you had a ticket to a game at the Forum in Inglewood, California, you probably never got to see him play. Indeed, once he left Montreal after being traded to the Kings, he became, for all intents and purposes, invisible, which certainly plays a huge role in being denied his rightful place in the HHOF.

Back then, only 15 Kings games, all road contests, were televised in the Los Angeles area each season. But when the Kings went on the road, backup goaltender Gary Edwards often got the start. In fact, Edwards, who played with Vachon for the majority of his time with the Kings, said that owner Jack Kent Cooke ordered that Edwards play in many road games, saving Vachon to put on a show for the home crowd, further limiting his exposure in Canada and in the Eastern Time Zone. Indeed, for all intents and purposes, Vachon was quite invisible to the rest of the hockey world during his time with the Kings.

Vachon’s brilliant record alone indicates that he should have been inducted years ago. 26 years have passed since he was first eligible for induction, and through no fault of his own, Vachon has paid the price for the obscurity of playing in Los Angeles by being denied the honor that he so rightly deserves for all those years. To be sure, it is a gross injustice that Rogie Vachon is not already an honored member of the Hockey Hall of Fame. I urge the Selection Committee to rectify that this year.

UPDATE

For those of you who decide to write a letter to the Hockey Hall of Fame Selection Committee, you should receive an acknowledgment letter from them. Don’t expect them to respond with anything of substance; the letter will simply acknowledge receipt of your letter, and tell you what they have done with it.

You can view a copy of the letter I received (with personal information redacted) by clicking on the image above.


Creative Commons License Frozen Royalty by Gann Matsuda is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. You may copy, distribute and/or transmit any story or audio content published on this site under the terms of this license, but only if proper attribution is indicated. The full name of the author and a link back to the original article on this site are required. Photographs, graphic images, and other content not specified are subject to additional restrictions. Additional information is available at: Frozen Royalty – Licensing and Copyright Information.

Frozen Royalty’s Comment Policies

About these ads

14 Responses to Open Letter To The Hockey Hall of Fame: Address The Injustice and Induct Rogie Vachon

  1. mike wyman says:

    Reads a lot like the arguments in favour of Lorne Chabot’s inclusion.

    Would also suggest that you would have a fair bit more credibility if you were to send letters to the proper person. A fellow by the name of Jim Gregory is the chairman of the HHoF selection committee.

  2. Pingback: Top Line: Spearing incidents in Dallas, Sean Avery speaks, more links | Home Ice - SI.com

  3. Pingback: Spectors Hockey | NHL Blog Beat – Saturday, February 9, 2013.

  4. J.T. Dutch says:

    He single-handedly won many games, often making the second, third and fourth saves, leading opponents to flail their arms in frustration, or skate away with their jaws agape in amazement.

    To be sure, the Kings were often so bad during his tenure that Vachon’s numbers are that much more incredible.

    … These sort of falsehoods only weaken your case. Just saying.

    • Gann Matsuda says:

      Apparently, your memory of Vachon is failing you. Bob Miller, who broadcast all of Vachon’s games while he was with the Kings, remembers him vividly. He confirmed what you contend are “falsehoods,” as detailed in one of the stories I mentioned.

      • J.T. Dutch says:

        …The Kings were absolutely not as bad as you are making them out to be, certainly not relative to the rest of the NHL, which added six expansion teams during Rogie’s tenure in Los Angeles.

        Bob Miller began broadcasting for the Kings in 1973. Before that, he’d never worked an NHL game, and his background was mostly in football. On top of that, his NHL perspective was limited to Vachon and the Kings, at that time.

        • Gann Matsuda says:

          Bob Berry, who played with Vachon, also confirmed what I wrote. As for Miller’s perspective, that really hasn’t changed, and that doesn’t help your point at all, given that he made the comments many years later, having seen a ton of hockey.

          • J.T. Dutch says:

            … Again, these are extremely biased perspectives, as biased as your letter. The Kings were absolutely not a bad team from 1973-74 on, but that obviously doesn’t fit with your narrative, so you’re conveniently leaving it out.

            Perhaps your efforts at campaigning for Vachon will find fruition. The HHoF has made poor choices before.

            • Gann Matsuda says:

              Given that they were the ones who experienced it, they would be far more credible sources than either you or I. I’ve spoken to many NHL players from that era including Kings’ opponents. All confirmed the same thing. Sadly, most of those conversations were informal, not interviews, so I can’t point you to those comments.

            • Gann Matsuda says:

              You’re saying Vachon is a poor choice for the HHOF? Wow.

            • J.T. Dutch says:

              You’re saying Vachon is a poor choice for the HHOF? Wow.

              … He’s a borderline choice, at best; a choice that I would term to be a poor one, yes.

              Vachon played 15 full seasons. Seven of them were good, and the other eight were average or poor.

              He did have one regular season where he was the best goalie in the league (74-75), and he did have one season where he was the best goalie in the playoffs and won the Cup (68-69). He was on three All-Star teams. That’s it.

              He was a part of three Cup teams – but in 1968, he mostly watched the playoffs from the bench, and in 1971 he watched all of the playoffs from the bench.

              From 72-73 to 77-78, the Kings were a solid team; a good defensive team. Vachon was not “single-handedly” winning games for them, or any such thing.

              Rogie Vachon had a fine career. The Kings retired his jersey number, and deservedly so, as he’s the best goalie in the team’s history.

              He doesn’t deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.

  5. Gann Matsuda says:

    A good defensive team? Yes. However, that was often because he bailed them out, although not so much in 1974-75. His record, along with various players, both teammates and opponents, refute what you’re saying.

  6. Pingback: Los Angeles Kings Superstar, Legend Rogie Vachon Says Receiving Stanley Cup Ring Was “Phenomenal” « Frozen Royalty

Please post your comment on this story below

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 134 other followers