Vernon shrugs off Hall snub

ERIC FRANCIS -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:10 AM ET

Mike Vernon handled the news he'd been snubbed by the Hall of Fame's selection committee the same way he dealt with setbacks throughout his career -- with a shrug.

Not that the laid-back Calgary native wasn't hoping to join some of the game's luminaries at the Nov. 7 induction ceremony in Toronto.

It's just Vernon knows better than anyone about the inherent bias that works against any player who toils largely out west.

"We've dealt with it before in this city," said Vernon yesterday after learning Cam Neely and Valeri Kharlamov got the nod ahead of him.

"The western media versus the eastern media. It's different. In the '80s, there were great teams from Calgary and Edmonton and it was a gong show getting the recognition some guys deserved.

"It was always tough to get a guy nominated even onto an all-star ballot from the west."

Still, the man who played in five all-star games while backstopping both Calgary and Detroit to Stanley Cup wins handled the news well.

"I'm not surprised and I can't be that disappointed -- it's just a great honour being nominated," said the Conn Smythe Trophy winner, sixth all-time in playoff wins and 10th during the regular season.

"There are a lot of great players out there. What was misleading is that they just listed the players eligible this year and they forget about a lot of good players who haven't been in but are still great players."

The selection committee continued its embarrassing snub of six-time Stanley Cup winner Glenn Anderson, whose 102 game-winners and 93 playoff goals still can't overcome his reputation as a deadbeat dad who clashed with the media. Six-time Stanley Cup winner Kevin Lowe and 600-goal scorer Dino Ciccarelli also apparently didn't have big enough stats to get the necessary 14 of 18 votes needed.

"I didn't know who else was on the list but when you look at the dynamics of the NHL and hockey -- the committee is looking internationally too," said Vernon of Kharlamov's posthumous induction.

"There are a lot of variables that come into it."

Jim Gregory, chairman of the HOF selection committee, admitted debates will continue to rage over the exclusion of players with beefy numbers.

"That's a dilemma people on the committee wrestle with," said Gregory, who also announced longtime CAHA president Murray Costello will be inducted as a builder.

"If you look at the people in the Hall, some have 200 goals while others who've scored 600 are not. Our meeting today lasted the longest since I've been involved.

"Many of the comments were about stats."

Charged with selecting players based on playing ability, sportsmanship, character and contribution to their teams and the game in general, it's hard to argue with Neely's inclusion. The Bruins power forward, who once scored 50 goals in 44 games, was one of the most dominant goal scorers of his time when not injured.

Vernon didn't want to comment on this year's inductees.

"It's hard for me to say I'm surprised about this guy or that guy -- that's why they have a committee to decide and guys like me sit on the sideline and watch," said Vernon, 42, now a Calgary-based real-estate mogul.

"I can't do a thing about it. I've done all I can do ... Maybe next year or the year after, who knows? Look at Cam Neely -- how long has he been out of the game?"

Long enough for the eastern media to rally behind him at just the right time.


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