Dryden Forum 1970s

TORONTOKen Dryden's mask-to-skates statue towers impressively just inside the entrance of the Hockey Hall of Fame, his familiar stick-lean pose frozen in nine feet of patinated metallic winterstone.
On Oct. 28, a life-size bronze Dryden statue was moved to its new installation at the Raymond Bourque Arena in the Montreal borough of St. Laurent. From 1985-2011, the work had stood in a St. Laurent shopping mall, then was moved to a Montreal office building, where it remained until finding its latest home.
It's natural that Dryden is immortalized in this way. The Montreal Canadiens Hall of Fame goalie is as stand-up and stoic as his statues, this year celebrating the 40th anniversary of his 1983 enshrinement.
Dryden had hoped on Sunday to drop into a quiet family and friends dinner hosted by Sports Illustrated legend Mark Mulvoy, recipient of the 2023 Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award for excellence in hockey journalism. In 1973, Dryden and Mulvoy collaborated on the 1973 book "Face-Off at the Summit," a revealing look at the historic 1972 Summit Series through the goalie's eyes.
But Dryden, 76, e-mailed Mulvoy earlier in the day to express his regrets, under the weather at home in Toronto.

Dryden Summit

Ken Dryden in action in Moscow during the historic 1972 Summit Series against a team of Russian all-stars.

The two would have renewed a friendship that dates back more than a half-century, including Dryden's 1983 Hall of Fame induction alongside Chicago Black Hawks icons Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita and, in the Builders category, Boston Bruins architect Harry Sinden.

This year is remarkable for its election of three goalies -- Mike Vernon, Tom Barrasso and Henrik Lundqvist will all offer their induction speeches on Monday at Brookfield Place, on a stage directly above the shrine.

It will be the first time since 1962 that three goalies have been inducted in a single Hall of Fame class: Riley Hern, John “Bouse” Hutton and Harry "Rat" Westwick, all who played before the birth of the NHL, were honored that year.

In 1961, George Hainsworth, Percy LeSueur and Oliver Seibert were inducted together, three years before Alex Connell, Hugh Lehman and Paddy Moran were enshrined as a group, the first time three goalies joined the Hall at once.

Indeed, it's not been since 1980, when Harry Lumley and Gump Worsley were inducted, that two goalies have been welcomed together.

Dryden age 7

Ken Dryden, age 7, as a member of the 1955 Islington Hornets of the Humber Valley Hockey Association in Toronto-suburban Etobicoke.

Dryden had incredible numbers during the 1970s, playing seven full seasons and eight games of a seventh for the Canadiens. He is among the team's greatest goalies of all time, with a record of 258 wins, 57 losses, 74 ties, goals-against average of 2.24, save percentage of .922 and 46 shutouts.

The Toronto native won the Stanley Cup six times, the Vezina Trophy five times, the 1970-71 Conn Smythe Trophy as most valuable player in the postseason and the 1971-72 Calder Trophy as the NHL's top rookie.

Dryden had much good to say in 1983 about fellow inductees Hull and Mikita, and they had lots of praise for him.

"What I remember best about Bobby Hull was his shot and what it represented," Dryden said upon induction, quoted in the Toronto Star by the late Frank Orr. "It was the one most likely to hurt me or beat me. If I could play with him without being hurt or beaten, then I could play in the NHL. When I did, I felt I had met a standard.

"My image of Stan is of a player crossing the line with the puck and when the pace picked up, he would slow down. His wingers would move and so would the defense. It was his way of leading the attack.

"Stan was the quarterback. He had the patience to hold the puck when he crossed the line and the movement started. There would be some panic, things would break down and I remember him a few steps back taking advantage of it to make a play.

Dryden split

Ken Dryden in his 1972 Summit Series portrait, and in 1970s action for the Canadiens at the Montreal Forum.

"They were different kinds of danger," Dryden said. "There was a feeling of fear the moment Bobby shot the puck, a feeling of excitement if you stopped it, following by a feeling of pain in your hand.

"Stan was more intricate. The vision I have of him is there in center ice, closing in on you in his own unhurried way, waiting for the other team to lose its patience and timing while he kept his."

Dryden had gallons left in his goaltending tank when he retired in 1979, but he had no regrets about stepping away.

"I miss parts of it," he said four years later at his induction. "The Islanders and the Bruins. The playoffs. Boston Garden and the Forum. I miss the feeling after winning the Stanley Cup. But I don't miss other things.

"I felt that if I didn't quit, I would spend most of my time telling myself why I should quit. I wanted to stop at a time when I still had the chance to do something else well."

A month later, Dryden's landmark "The Game" was published, widely considered to be the finest, most profound hockey book ever written.

Now, a month after the 40th anniversary of his enshrinement, Dryden has published "The Class," a look back at his 1960-61 academic year and a search for and reconnection with some of his classmates.

Dryden 2022

Ken Dryden, with Serge Savard on the left and Paul Henderson on the right, is introduced to Scotiabank Arena fans on Sept. 28, 2022, the 50th anniversary of Game 8 of the 1972 Summit Series.

His Hall of Fame career merely set the table for his full, rewarding life after hockey. Post-retirement, he has been a three-time Olympic hockey analyst, author or co-author of a dozen books, a newspaper and magazine columnist, elected member of Canada's Parliament, the Youth Commissioner for his native province of Ontario and president of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

He has also been a professor at Montreal's McGill University and a television producer, having co-created and co-produced the six-part CBC-TV series "We Are Canada," showcasing young, innovative Canadians to help celebrate the nation's 150th birthday in 2017.

Hull and Mikita are gone, having taken with them memories of a brilliant rival goalie.

"What I remember most about Ken is him stoning us often," Mikita said. "He always looked so big and impregnable. He had a great team in front of him, but he also had the trademark of the great goalie."

"Ken was the most agile big man of all the goalies," Hull said. "He played on some great Canadiens teams, but he was a very big reason why they were that way."

Three more goalies enter the Hall of Fame on Monday, bringing their number to 44, the newcomers having made better every team for which they played. And on their induction day, Vernon, Barrasso and Lundqvist will mingle in the presence of Dryden, all nine towering feet of him.

Top photo: Ken Dryden in his familiar pose on Montreal Forum ice during a break in a 1970s game. © Frank Prazak/Hockey Hall of Fame