Friday, February 02, 2007

Varnishing Print

Ken Dryden, former goaltender for the Montreal Canadiens, had his #29 jersey retired last week. Well I recall his exploits back in the day, before hockey goalies wore oversized equipment that made them resemble the Michelin Man.

Dryden would flail and flop in the crease, his lanky 6'4" frame looking like his limbs were attached to his body by springs. His long legs would shoot out instinctively, while his red, white and blue face mask approximated a look of curiosity at the action.

There were better technical practitioners of the position, more athletic players, goalies with sharper reflexes. But Dryden, backstopping the 1970s Canadiens - arguably the greatest team ever assembled - stopped the puck in impressive fashion in a brief but spectacular career.

Playing just 8 seasons, he led the Canadiens to the Stanley Cup a staggering 6 times (including 4 straight years, 1976-1979). His career began with a tear through the playoffs after which he was named the tournament's most valuable player (garnering the Conn Smythe trophy), with just 6 NHL games' experience under his belt.

The following season he was named Rookie of the Year, and added to his impressive resume: First Team All-Star selections, the Vezina Trophy (awarded to the goaltender with fewest goals allowed during the course of the season), and more Stanley Cups.

His career record: 258 wins, 57 losses and 74 ties - a mind-boggling 201 games over .500.


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