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1997: Mike Vernon Traded to San Jose

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07-10-2011, 08:01 PM
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Claypool
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1997: Mike Vernon Traded to San Jose

Mike Vernon won the Conn Smythe trophy in the 1997 playoffs and was dealt to San Jose a few months later for draft picks. He was 34, and posted a 16-4-0 record, a 1.76 goals-against average and .927 save percentage in the playoffs. He was making 2.75 million a season.

After doing a little research, it seems the reason he was traded was because Detroit could only keep two goalies in the waiver draft. They wanted to go with Chris Osgood and Kevin Hodson the following year. Detroit went with Osgood as the #1 and won the Cup again, and Hodson was serviceable as a backup. But the next year they traded Hodson for an aging Bill Ranford!

I don't know, to me it would seem like a no-brainer to just waive Hodson and go back with the Vernon/Osgood tandem again and again. I think Vernon would have been nice to have in the 1999 playoffs for Detroit. Has there ever been a situation in the NHL before where a team traded its Conn Smythe winning player the following offseason?

EDIT: ah nuts, this was supposed to go in the History of Hockey section. Please move.

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07-10-2011, 08:03 PM
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tarheelhockey
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At one time, Hodson was seen as a pretty strong prospect in his own right.

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07-10-2011, 08:05 PM
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Doctor No
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Yeah - Hodson was considered a top goaltending prospect at the time. He would have been snatched up if left available.

Here was something from Future Watch 1995 about him:

"Hodson is the reason the Wings felt comfortable about leaving No. 3 goalie Bob Essensa unprotected for the aborted waiver draft. They feel Hodson, the No. 1 goalie with the Adirondack Red Wings of the American League, can step in if regulars Mike Vernon or Chris Osgood get injured. "He stepped into the AHL after an outstanding junior career and never missed a beat," [Detroit assistant GM Ken] Holland said. "The only thing missing is a little bit of experience, but a year from now he should be pushing somebody. He's probably pushing them right now." Hodson's style is a bit unorthodox, which is to say he isn't pretty, but he stops the puck." (Keith Gave, The Hockey News Future Watch 1995)

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07-10-2011, 08:10 PM
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Claypool
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Yeah - Hodson was considered a top goaltending prospect at the time. He would have been snatched up if left available.

I see. But it's still strange that they traded Hodson only after 35 career games for Bill Ranford. The Wings felt they needed an experienced backup. But I think in retrospect they should have gone with Vernon/Osgood.

I can see the argument for trading Vernon if you're think Hodson is the future, but they gave up on him only after one year basically. To me this is just one trade I'll never be able to understand.

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07-10-2011, 09:02 PM
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Dean Lombardi and Darryl Sutter had just taken over in San Jose and they were looking to bring some credibility back to the team after two straight disastrous seasons under Al Sims. The Sharks had a major hole in net, and at the time, no one on the planet knew that there were two future Vezina finalists in the system. From Detroit's perspective, while Vernon was coming off a fantastic playoff run, he was also aging and had only started 65 regular season games in the last two seasons. Don't forget that Vernon struggled during the 1997 regular season, and the Red Wings had played much better with Chris Osgood in net. Osgood was the Wings' future in goal, but his inexperience and habit of falling apart in the playoffs did not bode well for a team that was already under immense pressure to finally win the Stanley Cup after years of losing to lower-seeded, usually far inferior, teams in the playoffs. Detroit was more comfortable with a playoff proven netminder like Vernon in net during the playoffs, so Vernon got the call during the playoffs. He was outstanding, but he had no business winning the Conn Smythe over Sergei Fedorov or Nicklas Lidstrom.

Either way, this deal made a lot of sense for both teams. Vernon was aging and his veteran presence was no longer needed in Detroit now that their established core of stars had finally gotten over the hump. Osgood was only 24 and had actually been their #1 goaltender for two consecutive seasons, only to be replaced by Vernon the moment April rolled around. Detroit felt that Osgood was finally ready to take the reins when the games mattered, and while he had his ups and downs in the 1998 playoffs (he has to be the only goalie in NHL history to allow a game-tying goal in the final minute of the third period and a game-winning goal in OT on shots from center ice in the same postseason), he did end up being a legitimate Smythe candidate. As for the Sharks, they needed an established veteran goalie, and that's what they got. Vernon won 30 games in his first season here and the Sharks made the playoffs and gave the heavily-favored Stars a run for their money. It's interesting to note that the acquisition of Vernon set about a complete change in the Sharks' franchise history. Prior to it, they had only made the playoffs twice in their 6 seasons and had no legitimate starting goalies. Since Vernon's first year, they have made the playoffs 12 times in 13 seasons and they (thanks to the late Warren Strelow) have churned out goalies like no other team in the NHL (Nabokov, Kiprusoff, Toskala, Hedberg).

Detroit got 2 second round picks in the deal. Those two picks, in the hands of their scouting department, were far more valuable to the defending Cup champions than a 37 year-old goalie that really was only needed for the playoffs. And they didn't need him for the playoffs anymore. Detroit didn't use either pick, trading both during the draft, but that really is irrelevant. Osgood became the scapegoat for the Wings' playoff losses to Colorado in 1999 and 2000 and their shocking collapse against LA in 2001, but Vernon, at his age, wouldn't have made any difference in any of those series.


Last edited by Blades of Glory: 07-10-2011 at 09:12 PM.
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07-10-2011, 09:12 PM
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connellc
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Wow, all these Wings questions! I"m actually familiar with.

Vernon was brought into Detroit for two reasons: To bring Osgood alongand help him develop and to win the Stanley cup. He accomplished both of these, and there really wasn't a reason to keep him along because of his hefty salary. Plus, Osgood was still a very good goalie and was an allstar just two years prior who played in most of the 1996 playoffs. He was ready to get out of Vernon's shadow for 3 years.

If memory serves me correctly, I remember reading that 2.75 million was an OPTION on his contract that would only occur if he won the Stanley cup, which he did.He would have been a UFA had they not won the cup. Regardless, I believe the Wings knew it was his last year and were prepared to move on. Hodson had some pretty decent stats in his handfull of games and wanted to give him a chance. Plus, one goalie would be lost on waivers.

On another note, they didn't get enough for him. Two picks? I mean c'mon, I was so disapointed in that trade and still am a little bit. I know they were under the gun, but we are talking about a Con Smyth trophy winner here! At least get a roster player in return!

Ranford was simply insurance incase Osgood got hurt in the playoffs. Guess what? He DID get hurt and Ranford played DYNOMITE his first game. I believe the game went into OT. After that, he stunk up the joint and the Wings wiped their hands clean of him.

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07-10-2011, 09:58 PM
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Originally Posted by connellc View Post
Ranford was simply insurance incase Osgood got hurt in the playoffs. Guess what? He DID get hurt and Ranford played DYNOMITE his first game. I believe the game went into OT. After that, he stunk up the joint and the Wings wiped their hands clean of him.
It was an overtime win, 3-2 in Denver against the Avs. His next game was great, too (a 4-0 shutout), before he faltered (replaced by Norm Maracle in each of his last two starts).

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07-10-2011, 10:12 PM
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The picks became...1998 second round pick (#41-Maxim Linnik), 1999 second round pick (#47-Sheldon Keefe)

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07-10-2011, 10:41 PM
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Big Phil
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Claude Lemieux was let go after 1995 when the Devils won. He was the Conn Smythe winner. I can't see how Vernon would have fared worse than Osgood in the 1998 playoffs so the Wings probably would have won again. I guess another reason is that Vernon was 34 years old and on the way down. The Wings knew his value was high right at that particular moment. I guess they took a gamble, and it didn't backfire on them either

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07-11-2011, 07:59 AM
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danincanada
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Originally Posted by Claypool View Post
I see. But it's still strange that they traded Hodson only after 35 career games for Bill Ranford. The Wings felt they needed an experienced backup. But I think in retrospect they should have gone with Vernon/Osgood.

I can see the argument for trading Vernon if you're think Hodson is the future, but they gave up on him only after one year basically. To me this is just one trade I'll never be able to understand.
Yeah, if Vernon could at least play the experienced backup role to Osgood up until '99 it would have been interesting to see if he could have helped them hold off the Avs comeback in that series. Ranford had a good start but folded like a cheap tent after that. They had a 2-0 lead in the series and were heading back to Detroit things were looking good.

I always wondered if the other problem with that '99 Red Wings team was that they brought too many new guys onto the team near the trade deadline - Chelios, Clark, Samuelsson, and Ranford. Familiarity is usually underrated.

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07-11-2011, 08:56 AM
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tarheelhockey
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Originally Posted by danincanada View Post
I always wondered if the other problem with that '99 Red Wings team was that they brought too many new guys onto the team near the trade deadline - Chelios, Clark, Samuelsson, and Ranford. Familiarity is usually underrated.
That's what I thought at the time. It was really strange to see that team get remade after so many years of relative consistency. They kind of went into NYR mode for a few years there.

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07-11-2011, 10:19 AM
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Claypool
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Claude Lemieux was let go after 1995 when the Devils won. He was the Conn Smythe winner.
Seems like his situation was a little different than Vernon's.

"After a lackluster regular season, Lemieux scored 13 postseason goals to lead the Devils to their first NHL championship, and was named postseason MVP in the process. But the 30-year-old angered New Jersey management by challenging the validity of a contract he faxed to the team in the offseason, then failing to report to camp because of the dispute.

Lemieux had been suspended since the opening of training camp nearly three weeks ago, losing $80,916 in salary."

http://community.seattletimes.nwsour...4&slug=2145039

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07-11-2011, 10:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Claypool View Post
Has there ever been a situation in the NHL before where a team traded its Conn Smythe winning player the following offseason?
Gretzky; 1988

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