Lessons from a Legend, Ken Dryden

Written by Rookie, AllHabs.net

I had the pleasure of seeing Ken Dryden speak at my alma mater, Concordia University, last week as part of Homecoming activities.

Dryden, of course, has led a fascinating life so far. He’s a true multihyphenate: NHL legend, lawyer, writer, politician, and family man. He discussed all of these roles, and every story he told was great, but I’ll be honest: I couldn’t get over the fact that my favourite Montreal Canadien of all time was standing before me. He may have retired three decades ago, but I couldn’t help it: I imagined him towering over an invisible net behind him, and catching pucks with his hands rather than just gesturing while he spoke.

Hockey may have changed since the 1970’s, but many of the things that Dryden said, in my opinion, still apply today.

Lesson for the NHL’s disciplinary committee: “What would head-smart hockey look like?” Dryden said, before referencing the article he wrote for the Globe and Mail earlier this year. The NHL needs to protect all of its players, not just its stars, from head injuries.

Lessons for Carey Price: “Being a goalie is no fun, ” he said of the pressure put on many goalies. Anyone who stands between the pipes needs to be “emotionally balanced,” and has to play with a hero’s (rather than a victim’s) mentality. Fans saw this in Price last season: he was much calmer and more focused than in previous years, and he needs to be just as focused this year. And from what I could gather, Dryden wouldn’t go for a second round of fisticuffs against Tim Thomas: “Why fight? That’s why you have big, dumb defencemen.”

Lessons for the team as a whole: Dryden avoided reading any newspaper articles that were written about him, choosing to completely ignore media coverage and focus on what he thought were the most important aspects of his game. Dryden also believes that there’s always a way to win a game, no matter who the opponent is (yes, maybe even the almost-too-successful Bruins). There’s always a way, always an answer – Dryden just believes that a team needs to find it. Preferably before the game ends.

Lesson for potentially unruly fans: Don’t boo your own players. Or, in Dryden’s own words, “You don’t check your humanity at the door just because you bought a ticket.”

Lessons for all of us: Dryden told a story about a recent trip he took to Pittsburgh, and how a visit to the Andy Warhol led to an impromptu tour of the city and places that shaped its history. He had been to Pittsburgh many times before but suddenly saw the city in a whole new way. I guess it takes the wisdom that comes along with 64 years and multiple careers to know that sometimes the best thing that can happen to us is the unexpected.

“Keep your mind and eyes wide open.” If both players and fans do this, we’re in for a big season.

featured image from cbc.ca

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About the Author

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Long story short: After two decades of not really understanding it, Erica (aka Rookie) gave in to one of the best things about being a Montrealer: the Canadiens. She'd been a rabid TV fan for years before, which explains why she might on occasion compare hockey to TV. Hockey fans and TV fans are from two different worlds. It's an interesting line to walk, but Rookie's trying to give you the best of both worlds.
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