Ken Dryden hasn’t played hockey since 1979, and he’s not been living in Montreal for a long time. But when we ask him if he has followed with attention the great history of the Canadian during the last series, the answer is not long: “Oh yes …”
Posted on September 20, 2021 at 7:00 a.m.
In fact, like much of the rest of the country, Dryden found himself following the Canadiens’ every triumph with attention, much like he followed the game with similar attention in his younger years. He even tried to come to the Bell Center during the grand final against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“I was invited to the final to go to the Bell Center,” he adds. I live in Ontario, but with the pandemic it just wasn’t the time to travel. I had a hard time refusing this invitation, I must say… ”
There is no doubt that Dryden, at 74, has been around the garden quite a bit. He has seen it all, too. He has written books, written articles in newspapers, often on subjects which he considers important, such as the question of shots to the head in hockey.
His post-career is as successful as his career itself as a goaltender, which was brief but intense: just eight seasons with the Canadiens, but six Stanley Cup rings in the process, and a quick admission to the Temple. of hockey fame in 1983. That’s without counting individual honors, such as the Calder Trophy won in 1972. To this day, he is the last member of the Canadiens to win it.
But for a man who has seen almost everything, Dryden remains curious, well aware of what is going on with his former team. He is also well aware of the case of Carey Price, who remains, after all these years, in search of a first ring.
“In my time, you could measure the work of a goalkeeper by the number of rings he had,” he adds. When I played in this league, there were 17 teams. Before me, goalies like Jacques Plante and Bill Durnan played in a 6-team league. That made me 16 opponents per year and them, 5 opponents.
“Next season there will be 32 teams in the National League. The Stanley Cups will not come through that often, and there will be more and more great players who will have to retire without having been able to win a single one. “
There was a time when the number of rings was a kind of barometer, but not anymore. We can also notice, because it happens, that there are goalkeepers who are good in the season, and less good in the playoffs. But this is clearly not the case with Carey Price.
It was a different time indeed, but when Dryden showed up in the blue, white and red sweater in the spring of 1971, with an all-white mask that had more holes in it than anything else, he got a taste of it right away. sweet nectar of success. In fact, his poetic performances in net led him, at the age of 23, to his first Stanley Cup, and also to a Conn-Smythe Trophy. All this after a big total of six games played during the season.
Carey Price has played 707 season games in his career.
“It’s all a bit unfair, but it’s part of the game, of the realities that come with being a goalie… because it’s a different position. The goalkeeper wears different equipment than the other players, and also, he stays in the back, alone in his corner. It is the player who is most evident on an ice rink. This also means that he is the one who gets the most attention when things are going well… but also when things are not going so well. ”
In Dryden’s case, it’s safe to say that most nights it went really well, and that’s arguably why he’s been immortalized in a number of ways since, whether in the museum or on screen. But he certainly could not expect to receive a call from the Canadian sculptor Robin Bell, who contacted him in 1985 for the project of a bronze statue in his effigy.
First installed at Place Vertu from 1985 to 2011 then moved to Place Montréal Trust, the statue of the famous keeper will return to Saint-Laurent by fall 2022, this time to be placed in front of the Raymond arena. Bourque.
“It’s all very meaningful to me,” concluded Dryden. It was a surprise. When you start playing hockey as a kid, you can’t imagine one day playing in the National League, then it happened to me. Then you can’t imagine winning a Stanley Cup, ending up in the Hall of Fame, and then that happened to me too. But a statue in his image? We really can’t imagine that! ”