Monday, September 8, 2014
Born on this date in 1945, Rogatien "Rogie" Vachon followed the usual pattern at the time of first playing for the Montreal Junior Canadiens, then moving to the Quebec Aces of the AHL. He then made the trek down to Houston to play with the Apollos of the CHL prior to joining the Montreal Canadiens, making his NHL debut in the 1966-67 season with 19 games and an impressive 11-3-4 record with a 2.48 goals against average.
With goaltender Charlie Hodge gone due to the expansion of the NHL from six teams to 12, Vachon split the starting duties for the 1967-68 season with Lorne "Gump" Worsley. The duo shared the Vezina Trophy, then awarded to the goaltenders of the team who allowed the fewest goals against each season. The Canadiens went on to capture the Stanley Cup that season, earning Vachon the first Stanely Cup ring of his career.
Vachon again split the goaltending duties with Worsley in 1968-69 and posted a 22-9-3 record for the powerhouse Canadiens during the regular season prior to leading Montreal to a second consecutive Stanley Cup by going 7-1 in eight playoff games.
He took the bulk of the workload in 1969-70, appearing in 64 games, winning 31. The following season Vachon teamed up with Phil Myre to return the Canadiens to the Stanley Cup championship, with Vachon getting his name on the Stanley Cup for the third time in four seasons.
After playing in just a single game for Montreal in 1971-72, Vachon was traded to the Los Angeles Kings for four players. The change from the defending champions to the lowly Kings had the expected impact on Vachon's statistics, as his record in 28 games for Los Angeles was 6-18-3 in 28 games and his goals against average went from 2.64 with Montreal to 4.05 with the Kings.
He became a workhorse in goal for the Kings over the next six seasons, playing at least 53 games and as many as 70. His win totals also increased to 22 in 1972-73 and then stayed consistently between 26 and 29 with one year reaching 33. 1974 saw the Kings reach the playoffs for the first of five consecutive seasons with Vachon in goal.
Vachon appeared in his first NHL All-Star Game in 1973 and again in 1975 and 1978. He was named the Kings Most Valuable Player in 1973, 1974, 1975 and 1977.
With his contract in Los Angeles at an end, Vachon signed with the Detroit Red Wings as a free agent for the 1978-79 season, where he would play for two years. During the summer of 1980, Vachon was traded to the Boston Bruins for the final two seasons of his career.
His final NHL totals show him playing 795 games, winning 355 and posting and final goals against average of 2.99 despite playing on some less than great teams early in Los Angeles and a pair of downright poor Red Wings teams.
Internationally, Vachon stood out in his only appearance for Team Canada, which came during the 1976 Canada Cup. His stellar play led to him playing in every game for Canada as he went 6-1 with a pair of shutouts and a 1.39 GAA in 7 games to lead Canada to the championship over Czechoslovakia on his way to being named the tournament's Most Valuable Player.
Vachon's #30 was the first number retired by the Kings on February 14, 1985.
Today's featured jersey is a 1970-71 Los Angeles Kings Rogie Vachon jersey. When the Kings jerseys were first introduced in the 1967-68 expansion year, the purple and gold colors were a shocking addition to the NHL's color palette of the day, as only the gold Bruins jerseys departed from the red, white, blue and black colors used by the other five Original Six clubs.
Additionally, the Kings gold jerseys were a unique departure, as all the other 11 teams in 1967-68 wore white jerseys at home.
In 1969 the Kings added white trim to their previously one color numbers. The following season names appeared on their gold jerseys and were occasionally used on the purple ones for games on television before becoming a permanent fixture in 1977.
This basic jersey style would remain in use from the Kings debut in 1967 through the end of the 1979-80 season.
Here is a video tribute to the 1976 Canada Cup Team Canada squad, which featured Vachon in goal. Everyone snap your fingers!
Here is a nice video feature on the players who have had their numbers retired by the Los Angeles Kings, which includes game footage of Vachon.