Vernon a big fan of Kiprusoff, would love to see him return
The two goalies who are 1 and 1A in Flames history have a good camaraderie
Count Mike Vernon a fan.
“The thing about goaltending today,” says the Calgary Flames’ 1989 Stanley Cup netminding ace, “is that they’re all going for these big guys, they go down in the butterfly so much and then the puck hits them. They just block.
“To me, they don’t use their tools. They don’t use their gloves enough, their pads, things like that. But you look at Miikka Kiprusoff, he’s a guy who uses his tools. Uses his glove, his stick. Plays the puck extremely well. And he competes in there, never quits.
“I like the acrobatic goaltending because I think it’s more of a skill. The other system is just get down in the butterfly, slide, let the puck hit you . . .
“I just don’t view that as being on the same skill level. Kiprusoff. Jonathan Quick in L.A. Even the guy here with Detroit (Jimmy Howard). Not a big man, but he uses his skill. Use your quickness, your reflexes. It’s exciting. It’s athletic. That’s all part and parcel of it.
“As a fan, those are the kinds of guys I enjoy watching.”
They are, of course, the 1-1A on all Calgary Flames’ best goaltending lists. Vernon’s supporters have the retired number hanging in the Scotiabank Saddledome rafters and the only championship in franchise history to back up their claims (“Well, technically, he should have a Cup, too,” argued Vernon, “if you consider that disallowed goal in 2004”), Kiprusoff’s supporters point to a Vezina Trophy and the franchise record for regular-season wins.
With Kiprusoff’s return to see out the final year of his contract very much in doubt, Vernon, for one, hopes to see him back.
“They’re trying to rebuild the team here, and I understand that. But if the guy doesn’t want to go anywhere and he still wants to play . . . Joey MacDonald’s a good goaltender and he’s played well, but there’s 82 games next year, not 48.
“Maybe the organization can convince him to come back. I don’t talk to Kipper a lot, maybe once or twice a year when we bump into each other at different functions and we really don’t talk along those lines. I don’t know how his body’s feeling. I don’t know what he’s thinking. No one knows those things except him.
“So it’s entirely his decision.
“As a fan of the game, from a selfish point of view, I’d like to see him come back, though. Like I said, he’s a goaltender I enjoy seeing play. I like his style. I like his skill set.
“To me, he plays the position the way it was meant to be played.”
And to those who anoint No. 34 the quote — greatest — unquote Flames’ puck-repeller ever at No. 30’s expense?
“Ah, I don’t care,” scoffs Vernon. “Everybody has their favourites. The game changes. It’s totally different now than when I played. If you’re not 6-2, you can’t even get drafted into this league now, I don’t think. Especially as a goaltender. And in case you haven’t noticed, I’m not 6-2.
“Different era. The ’80s and early ’90s were entirely different. Some say that was the best hockey. It was wide open hockey, 3-on-1s, 3-on-2s. There were mistakes. But that made it exciting.
“It’s tough to compare.
“He’s had a phenomenal career. He’s achieved an awful lot. I think the key to success is longevity — longevity playing at a high level. And Kipper’s done that.
“Whatever he decides, he should be very proud of everything he’s accomplished.”
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