Vernon's big night!

Former Calgary Flames netminder Mike Vernon signs 330 special-edition goalie sticks yesterday at...

Former Calgary Flames netminder Mike Vernon signs 330 special-edition goalie sticks yesterday at the Saddledome. The sticks commemorate tonight's pre-game ceremony in which Vernon's No. 30 jersey will join Lanny McDonald's No. 9 in the rafters. (Sun Media/Stuart Dryden)

RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 6:46 PM ET

As he signs 330 goalie sticks to memorialize his big day, Mike Vernon is asked about The Save.

There were so many during his Calgary Flames days but one from the Stanley Cup run stands out and is firmly etched in team folklore.

It's Game 7 of the 1989 opening round-playoff series and Vancouver's Stan Smyl is racing down the right wing.

Smyl fires for the top shelf but Vernon comes up with the highlight-reel glove save that bails out his team and sends them on their way to the Stanley Cup title.

"Yeah, I've seen that a few times," said Vernon, whose No. 30 will be retired tonight in a ceremony that starts at 6:40 p.m. "People talk about that one but I like to talk about the Petri Skriko one. It was a 2-on-0 and I just got my toe on it. I got it with the toe of my skate on it, basically. In overtime, to have a 2-on-0, that's one of the better ones.

"The Stan Smyl save, I was just excited it was Stan Smyl."

Vernon also came through with another thrilling glove stop in overtime, on Tony Tanti, before Joel Otto's winner finally rid the Flames of those pesky Canucks and continued their trip to glory.

The final chapter of his NHL days will be written tonight before the Flames face the Chicago Blackhawks.

Vernon's number will be officially immortalized alongside Lanny McDonald's No. 9 in the Saddledome rafters.

"I'd rather have my mask on and play than get up to a podium and speak," said the native Calgarian.

"My speech is done but I've changed it already.

"I could go out there and tell stories all day long but I don't think it's about the stories. To me, it's about thanking the people important to you."

In two stints as a Flame, he played in 526 regular-season games and collected 259 victories. He won 43 of 81 playoff contests.

The resume also includes another Stanley Cup title in Detroit in 1997, when he was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.

About to celebrate his 44th birthday this month, the Flames season-ticket holder is now enjoying life from the other side of the glass.

"The people do have a lot of passion for the game here in Calgary," he said.

"I was never fortunate to watch hockey, professional hockey, live as a kid.

"I grew up in a city where there was less than 200,000 people. To come to the rink and see my kids get excited about the Flames, other kids get excited about the Flames, it means a lot. It means a lot to the community and a very important part of this city and its culture."

And, now, so is the hometown boy.


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