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Top 100 Goalies: No. 33 — Rogie Vachon

Canada Cup hero was a sturdy little secret for much of his career in Southern California.

Perhaps it’s because he toiled outside the spotlight for most of his career that it’s easy to forget Rogie Vachon’s brilliance. The kids might not be able to fathom this now, but there was a time when playing in Los Angeles was the NHL’s version of being dispatched to Siberia.

Vachon spent the lion’s portion of his career in L.A. and eventually – 34 years after he retired – earned a place in the Hall of Fame on the strength of his Hollywood nights. But there are other parts of his career that may have slipped fans’ minds as well. The first is he was a member of three Stanley Cup final teams with the Montreal Canadiens before losing the net in 1970-71 to Ken Dryden. He had a 14-5 playoff record for the Habs, including a 6-3 mark and 1.86 goals-against average in Stanley Cup finals.

You may also have forgotten that Vachon was in Canada’s net for the 1976 Canada Cup. Darryl Sittler scored the overtime winner in the clinching game, but Vachon was also heroic, playing seven games, including both of Canada’s wins over the Czechoslovakians in the final, and gave up just 10 goals.

And almost 40 years ago, Vachon blazed a trail by becoming one of the NHL’s first true free agents. Prior to 1978-79, Vachon signed a five-year deal with Detroit worth $1.9 million after the Kings refused to offer him the security of a five-year deal. That contract made him the highest-paid goalie in the league at the time.

And while Vachon never reached the level in Detroit, and later Boston, that he had with Los Angeles, his legacy as one of the league’s most outstanding small, uber-athletic goaltenders ever had been carved in granite.

Born: Sept. 8, 1945, Palmarolle, Que.
NHL Career: 1967-82
Teams: Mtl, LA, Det, Bos
Stats: 353-293-128, 3.00 GAA, .896 SP, 51 SO
All-Star: 2 (Second-2)
Trophies: 1 (Vezina-1)
Stanley Cups: 2


Growing up in rural Quebec, Vachon’s goalie idol wasn’t local hero Jacques Plante, but anglophone Terry Sawchuk. Vachon, who couldn’t speak English as a child, played a crouched style, much like Sawchuk.


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