MONTREAL - The Canadiens will honor two of the greatest players in team history during the 2006-07 season by retiring the jerseys of defenseman Serge Savard (No. 18) and netminder Ken Dryden (No. 29).
This initiative began last season with the team retiring Dickie Moore and Yvan Cournoyer's No. 12 as well as Bernard Geoffrion's No. 5 as part of the process leading up to the Canadiens' Centennial, to be celebrated in grandiose fashion in 2009. Over the next few seasons more legendary players in Canadiens history will also be honored by having their jerseys raised to the Bell Centre rafters.
The Canadiens will pay tribute to Serge Savard in a pre-game ceremony on Saturday November 18 when the Atlanta Thrashers will be the visitors, while Ken Dryden's tribute will take place on Monday January 29, prior to the game between the Canadiens and the Ottawa Senators.
Through the years, the Canadiens have retired the jerseys of ten of their greatest players : Howie Morenz (No. 7, on November 2, 1937), Maurice Richard (No. 9, on October 6, 1960), Jean Béliveau (No. 4, on October 9, 1971), Henri Richard (No. 16, on December 10, 1975), Guy Lafleur (No. 10, on February 16 1985), Doug Harvey (No. 2, on October 26, 1985) and Jacques Plante (No. 1, on October 7, 1995) and last season those of Dickie Moore and Yvan Cournoyer (No. 12 on November 12, 2005) as well as Bernard Geoffrion (No. 5 on March 11, 2006).
Born in Montreal on January 22, 1946, Serge Savard was barely 15 years old and playing in a school league when he was first noticed by scouts. He continued to improve and within two years he joined the Montreal Junior Canadiens and also served as team captain.
Serge Savard first donned a Canadiens jersey for two games in 1966-67 before joining the Houston Apollos where he earned the Central League's Rookie of the Year honors following a stellar season. That turned out to be his only season in the minor leagues. He was called up by the Canadiens the following season and never looked back. Over his 14-year career as a member of the Canadiens defensive corps, he recorded 537 points, including 100 goals.
In 1968-69, in only his second full season with the Canadiens, he recorded 10 points in 14 playoff games to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Habs completed a four-game sweep of the St.Louis Blues in the finals. For Savard, who would record 68 points in 123 playoff games with the Canadiens, it was the second of what would be eight Stanley Cup wins as a player.
Savard faced adversity early in his career, sustaining serious career threatening injuries. In a game during the 1970-71 season, Savard suffered five separate fractures of his left leg that required him to undergo surgery on three separate occasions. Courageously, he returned to the ice the following season only to suffer yet another fracture of the same leg. Once again, showing tremendous determination he fought back and resumed his career. Savard did not miss a beat and remained one of the steadiest defensemen in the game on his way to be selected to represent Canada for the 1972 Summit Series against the USSR. In recognition of his tremendous perseverance and dedication, the NHL awarded Savard the Bill-Masterton Trophy in 1979.
Savard retired in 1981 after 14 seasons and eight Stanley Cup wins, but his retirement was only temporary as he then joined the Winnipeg Jets for two more seasons. Prior to the 1983-1984 season he returned to Montreal and was named General Manager of the Montreal Canadiens. Within two years he built a team that would claim the 23rd Stanley Cup in team history in 1986. Seven years later, it was déjà vu all over again as Savard and the Canadiens won yet another Stanley Cup.
In 1986, just a few months after winning the Cup, Savard was inducted in the Hockey Hall of Fame. His involvement in minor hockey, amateur sport and charitable causes earned him several honors, including Officer of the Order of Canada in 1994 and Chevalier de l'Ordre national du Québec in 2004.
Serge Savard, who has become a prominent businessman, remains very active in the Montreal community to this day.
Born in Hamilton on August 8, 1947, Ken Dryden played his minor hockey in the Toronto area. His name first surfaced in 1964 when he was drafted by the Boston Bruins only to have his rights traded soon after to the Canadiens in return for two prospects who never saw NHL action.
Dryden accepted an honorary athletic scholarship to Cornell University where he was a member of the Big Red hockey team for four seasons. He then joined the Montreal Voyageurs in 1970-71 playing 33 games and a record of 16 wins, 7 losses and 8 ties with a 2.68 GAA and three shutouts. Just prior to the NHL playoffs Dryden was called up by the Canadiens and won all six games he started with a stellar 1.65 GAA. Little did he know that this would lead to an amazing Stanley Cup run.
With all but six NHL games under his belt, Dryden earned the starting job to face the powerful Boston Bruins who ended the regular season 24 points ahead of the seemingly overmatched Canadiens. The lanky 6'4'' netminder was nothing short of outstanding. His prowess propelled the Canadiens past the Bruins in 7 games before disposing of the Minnesota North Stars and the Chicago Blackhawks on their way to a 17th Stanley Cup. Dryden's amazing play earned him the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.
In his first full season with the Canadiens in 1971-72, Dryden picked up where he left off, leading the league in games played (46), wins (39) and minutes played (3,800) while earning eight shutouts along with a 2.24 GAA. His dominance earned him the Calder Trophy as the NHL's Top Rookie. To this day, Dryden remains the only player ever to have won the Calder Trophy after being awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy.
After winning a second Stanley Cup in three seasons, Dryden declared he would take a sabbatical year and joined the law offices of Osler, Hoskin and Harcourt in Toronto. He returned to the Canadiens for the 1974-75 season setting the stage for the Canadiens four straight Stanley Cups from 1976 to 1979.
Over his abbreviated but highly successful career with the Canadiens, Dryden certainly made his mark. A six-time Stanley Cup winner in eight seasons, he played in 397 regular season games, winning 258 losing only 57 games and tying 74 with a 2.24 GAA. He also recorded 46 shutouts which ranks him third on the Canadiens all-time list. Dryden's dominance extended to the playoffs where he was at his best, winning 80 of 112 games. He whitewashed his opponents 10 times and kept a 2.40 GAA.
Widely recognized a one of the NHL's top goaltenders, Dryden was selected to the First All-Star Team on five occasions and once to the Second All-Star Team. On the international scene he was chosen to represent Canada at both the Summit Series in 1972 (2-2-0) and at the Challenge Cup in 1979
After retiring at the young age of 31 back in 1979, Dryden pursued other interests. His books "The Game" and "Home Game" were bestsellers in Canada and earned him critical acclaim. In the meantime he earned his doctorate from the University of Windsor and was appointed Youth Commissioner. In 1997 he joined the Maple Leafs front office as General Manager before taking over as President. Dryden then turned to politics and joined the Liberal Party winning a seat in the House of Commons as the MP for York Centre in 2004. Dryden, who was appointed Minister of Social Development in the Martin cabinet, is currently entered in the Liberal Party leadership race.
Ken Dryden was inducted in the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1983.