One of the legends of Detroit Red Wings folklore, goaltender Mike Vernon earned the 1997 Conn Smythe Trophy as most valuable player of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Of course, he’ll forever also be known for the image of him brawling with Colorado Avalanche goaltender Patrick Roy on March 26, 1997.
He sat own virtually with Red Wings in-arena hostess Carley Johnston in an episode of “Coffee With Carley” to share some fun memories he has of the years of donning the Winged Wheel, as well as what it was like during one of the most famous games in Detroit sports history.
“I have a lot of good fond memories of Detroit – winning the Stanley Cup and celebrating in the dressing room, things like that with the players and the dinners and the comrades that we had,” he explained. “Little Caesars pizza in between periods when I was sitting on the bench and when Ozzie was playing; I’d get a little hungry and go in the back room and get some pizza.”
Vernon then went on to describe the events from his perspective of March 26, 1997 that saw not only Darren McCarty extract some well-deserved revenge on villain Claude Lemieux, but also Vernon bloodying Patrick Roy at center ice.
“It started with two unusual guys, Peter Forsberg and Igor Larioonov starting the fight, but it was pre-up to what happened with Lemieux and Draper the year before. These guys are fighting and I’m looking over and thinking it won’t be much, there’s nothing to that, they’ll just hit each other and move on. And then, it broke out a bit. Everyone was scrambling around, and then Darren targeted Lemieux because we have a short memory. I’m sitting in net just enjoying a front row seat and thinking nothing of it.
Then, all of a sudden, Patrick Roy jumps in and him and Brendan Shanahan collide. I’m like, ‘Oh no, that means I have to leave my net'”. I skated to center ice and I’m already fatigued at that point – the first guy I grabbed was Adam Foote, who looked at me and started laughing. I was like ‘Whatever, I’m just here’. Roy kind of jumped me from behind and I squared up with him and started going at it. I caught him with a couple lefts and cut him over his eye, and that was it – but I’d never been so exhausted in my life.”
The full interview can be viewed below:
"That's a memorable day for me – I get in a fight with Patrick Roy and I win my 300th victory as a goaltender."
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) June 9, 2021