MONTREAL - After winning their share of Stanley Cups together as teammates, Ken Dryden and Serge Savard were once again side-by-side in Montreal Wednesday, just as their jersey numbers will soon also be next to one another high above the ice at the Bell Centre.
"I've certainly been privileged in my life," admitted Savard, who won eight Stanley Cups in 14 years with the Canadiens. "I was privileged to be born with talent, privileged to play with some of the biggest players to ever play the game and most of all, privileged to play for the greatest team in the world."
Dryden also doesn't have to be reminded of how fortunate he was to play for the Canadiens.
"I was unbelievably lucky to be a part of this team," said a visibly emotional Dryden. "To this day, people from across the country stop me on the street to thank me for all those great memories. But from the players, management, staff at the Montreal Forum and the fans, it is up to me to thank you."
It was like old times for Savard and Dryden, as they held court with the media with Dryden even poking fun at his legendary pose.
One cool customer: Ken Dryden knew he was in good hands with Serge Savard.
"You can't lean on your stick as a goalie unless the puck is always at the other end of the ice," laughed Dryden, before pulling out a nonchalant picture of himself looking on from his crease, comfortably leaning on his crossbar as he admired Savard fending off a forechecker.
"Do I look nervous here to you?" asked a smiling Dryden as he again pointed to the photo. "This really says it all. When Serge had the puck on his stick, I knew it was going to leave the zone."
While those dominant teams of the 1970s steamrolled the NHL to the tune of six Stanley Cups, Savard underlined the fact that there was more to those squads than the big name stars who stole the headlines.
"Our team was loaded with talent, but that isn't always enough," explained Savard whose jersey will be first to be immortalized on Nov. 18 when the Canadiens take on the Atlanta Thrashers. "You win as a team. If we didn't all play together from guys like Reggie to Mario and Yvon, we wouldn't have enjoyed all of that success."
Like so many players of their era, the numbers that ended up on the backs of both Savard and Dryden were not of their choosing. While Savard learned to live with his now trademark No. 18, Dryden had other ideas when it came to his No. 29.
"Most goalies wore either No. 1 or 30 and those were taken so I got No. 29," explained Dryden. "Every goalie wants to wear No. 1. When it finally became available. I rushed home to tell my wife Lynda, and she said 'You can't wear No. 1, you're No. 29!"
And with Dryden's once unwanted number set to be raised to the Bell Centre rafters on January 29, 2007, it looks like Lynda had it right all along.
Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com