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Ken Dryden |  Guardian of the rest

Ken Dryden | Guardian of the rest

It is the story of a statue or perhaps a myth. It is the story of a goalkeeper and his pose, as famous as his exploits, that remain entrenched in memories many years later.

Firstly, it is a story that will last forever, of a goalkeeper who was so tall, he had to invent a resting position instead of doing like all the others, who rested by leaning on their pads.

This is how the legend of Ken Dryden grew, and thus what led to the name of this statue Goalkeeper – The Guardian – created by artist Robin Bell in 1985 in Italy, “one of the quarries frequented by Michelangelo,” according to Dryden.

Over time, the work has moved three times: from Place Vertu in 1985 to Place Montréal Trust in 2011, and then finally here, in front of Place Raymond-Bourque, in the Saint-Laurent district.

In celebrating this third (and final?) step on Saturday, Alain D’Souza, the mayor of Saint-Laurent, spoke about how something can be done to give more visibility to Goalkeeper, previously abandoned on the corner of Place Montreal Trust in the city centre. “He was there, covered in dust, and no one knew he was there anymore,” Mr. D’Souza said.

Photo by Josie Desmarais, Press

Alan DeSousa

There are players who leave their mark on generations for many reasons: goals, points, great victories. Dryden, who kept the net for the Canadian during the great dynasty of the 1970s, marked the imagination as much with his victories as his mask and that pose.

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It still surprises him.

When we think of players, in any sport, we think of them while they are in the sport, not while they are not in it. And now when you remember me, this is what you remember…

Ken Dryden

He remembers that in the past, people tried to call him the shepherd. “It was perfect,” he added, smiling, “because that’s the guard’s job: to keep an eye on things, to make sure everything is going well.”

To this day, nearly 45 years after his retirement, Dryden is still known by this image of himself. That guardian of the brain, who is above conflict and on top of his affairs, does not waver in the face of adversity. It’s an image he skillfully cultivated during his eight seasons on the ice in the NHL.

Photo by Antoine Desilets, Press Archive

Ken Dryden in May 1971

For convenience reasons, of course, but also because it sent a strong message to the rest of the league.

“He showed calm and confidence,” he adds. This is a very important message to convey to your teammates, to the fans and also to the other team. Teammates need to know that everything is okay behind them, and opponents need to know that they won’t be able to get to the man on the other end.

“I remember the press conference to pull my shirt and Serge Savard’s shirt [en 2006]… We brought a picture of the two of us, taken during a game against Buffalo; We see Serge with the ball, going behind the net, and Richard Martin chasing him…Martin was a great goalscorer, and in the picture, he’s right behind Serge. He can take the puck away from him, and I’m there, standing, leaning on my net, like nothing happened. If there’s anything that can sum up what it was like for us in the 1970s, it’s this. »

Photo by Ivanuh Demers, Press Archive

Serge Savard and Ken Dryden pose for the famous photo on the day their jerseys were retired in 2006.

The city is beneath their feet

At 76, Dryden hasn’t played hockey for a long time, but he’s forgotten nothing about what he experienced here, when the Canadian, with the city at his feet, wasn’t allowed to lose.

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“We often talk about the eight-game season (1976-77), but since that season, I think we’ve lost almost 30 games in three years… We’ve all found ourselves in the right place, at the right time, surrounded.” One of the best people. We had the best general manager in history in Sam Bullock, the best coach in history in Scotty Bowman, and we had the best players, in the best arena, in front of the best fans, who were the most passionate, the most engaged, the greatest experts. We were forced to give our best.

“The message from the media, the fans and the management is that we have to realize how good we are performing. Once we realize that, we have no right not to be as good as we can be. If we beat the Blues 5-3 and it was an ordinary performance, we knew that We have to be better.”

Photo by Josie Desmarais, Press

Ken Dryden statue in front of Raymond Burke Square, in the Saint-Laurent district

Dryden agrees that times have changed, and hockey too, but that “Montreal” pressure, which we come up with every time to partly explain the absence of great victories since the last one, in 1993, was also present in his era.

Only, it did not reach this version of the club, and even less so the goalkeeper who rested his chin on his stick to relax between two stops.

“It creates a difficult environment, because you always have to reach the standard,” he admits. But it is the right environment and the right standard to target. We knew we were good and better than our opponents. »

For example, Dryden mentions a quote from tennis player Billie Jean King: Pressure is a privilege. “That’s a good quote… The challenge is when you’re expected to be better than you actually are; that’s hard. Pressure can make you a little better, but when expectations exceed that, that pressure can be annoying, because you can’t reach that standard.” What people ask for.”

And if a member of the current edition of the Canadiens needs a little inspiration, they can always go and pay their respects in front of the statue of Ken Dryden, a tribute to a more glorious era, when victory was so certain that even a goaltender could afford such status.

“When you live up to expectations, there is no better place to play hockey than Montreal or Toronto,” the Canadian legend concluded. But if you can’t do that, it can be really difficult…”