HHOF Profile: Rogatien “Rogie” Vachon

1966-72rogatienvachonGoalies are an interesting group in hockey as they are widely considered to be the strangest players on the ice at any time.

It makes some sense as they are the only players in hockey that voluntarily stand in front of shots from everyone else.

It is not something that most people want to do as a frozen rubber puck is not something a lot of people want to stand in front of as their job.

There is a constant joke throughout the hockey world that the goaltenders are all slightly off and always the crazier of the hockey players in the room.

That has been the case for decades and it might be even truer for the goalies that stood in front of frozen pucks before equipment became as big as it has right now.

Even more so for those goalies that played the game before masks were an essential part of the goalie equipment.

It does take a certain attitude to be a goaltender as they are the only players to stay on the ice for the entire game and they are the players who are affected most by the mental game.

They have to be strange because they are often going to fail, they can’t stop every shot that they face and they will not be perfect.

They have to find that ability to fail at their job but keep going in order to give their teams a chance to win.

It is a different mentality than anyone else on the ice and they are forever different because of it as they are a separate group of hockey players.

The best to do are the ones who can take that special mentality and channel it onto the ice to give their team a chance to win games.

The few that do it better than anyone else end up in Toronto among the best players in the sport and the latest addition was a part of a generation that needed a little more toughness to play the sport.

Rogatien Vachon, better known as Rogie, was a part of the generation of goalies who began their careers in the most basic equipment including the lack of a mask.

Vachon’s career started out with strange enough as he was never supposed to begin playing when he did.

The Montreal Canadiens entered that season looking like a great team but then their starting goaltender was hurt.

Their back-up couldn’t meet the expectation that the Canadiens had and so Vachon was brought up to finish out the season.vachon73-1

He was able to keep his starting role and then came the 1967 playoffs where Vachon was the backstop when the Canadiens made it to the Stanley Cup finals.

He was an essential part of that Stanley Cup run and it was his first season in the league and he never looked back.

He held that starting spot for a few years in Montreal winning awards and continuing to be a solid netminder until Ken Dryden came on the scene.

That is when he was traded to Los Angeles going from one of the most legendary hockey markets to an almost entirely new market.

He certainly didn’t get the attention when he went to the Pacific coast and that may have served as a reason for his long wait to make it into the Hall of Fame.

He essentially went to no man’s land where hockey was nowhere close to the biggest sport and for a long time, he was forgotten.

That didn’t mean he stopped playing though as with the Kings he became one of the best goalies in the league consistently putting up great numbers.

It took a long time for the Kings to find a goalie anywhere near as good as Vachon with most of the team records were held by him until only recently.

Vachon was shipped to a tough place to be recognised but with the development of hockey in that part of the USA the history of those teams is coming into focus a lot more.

Now Vachon becomes a permanent part of that history as he enters the Hall of Fame among the best players in the NHL.

After making his way through the tough life of a goalie even in a time when the mentality was very different he takes his rightful place in the Hockey Hall of Fame.


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