In a Hockey Hall of Fame class where there were no slam-dunk choices, the doors were open for some previously overlooked players to join the 268 (388 if you count coaches and builders of the game) already enshrined. One such overlooked player: goaltender Rogatien Vachon, the first member of the Los Angeles Kings to have his number retired. Turns out it was Rogie’s time!
Rogie was one of the first true stars to grace the Kings after being traded to LA in 1971. At that point, LA had never even had a .500 record, but starting in 1973, Vachon backstopped the Kings to four consecutive seasons of .500 or better, including what is still the best regular season record in franchise history in 1974-75 (42-17-21). Vachon was the Hart Trophy runner-up that year and a third-place finisher in 1976-77, was named to the Second All-Star Team in both seasons, and was the team’s MVP four times. Vachon also won a Vezina and three Stanley Cups with Montreal, and played for Detroit and Boston before his retirement in 1982.
Vachon also gave an air of legitimacy to a team that was still viewed as a bit of a novelty when he joined them. By the time his tenure was over LA had Marcel Dionne, Butch Goring, and Dave Taylor, players who helped set the stage for the arrival of Wayne Gretzky and the future of hockey in California. It was clear what Vachon meant to the team; in addition to having his number retired, Vachon served as an interim coach three times and was the team’s general manager for eight seasons. He said of the team in 1997: “I've been a King through good and bad. This is where my heart is.”
Read more on the other Hall of Fame inductees here. Congrats, Rogie!