Series of the century | On Ken Dryden’s skates


Ken Dryden was less than 200 feet from Paul Henderson when the latter scored his legendary goal to win the Century Series. Maybe he would have preferred to be somewhere else.

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Jean-Francois Teotonio

Jean-Francois Teotonio
The print

In Canada, in this case. With all those supporters who have experienced this moment of glory, joy and intense celebrations. Together.

“You know what it is,” Dryden says over the phone to this Montreal reporter during an interview with The print. You experienced the playoffs two years ago when the Canadiens made it to the Stanley Cup final. You know what happens to the city of Montreal when it does. Is fantastic. There is this experience that everyone shares. ”

If anyone knows what he’s talking about on this subject, it’s Ken Dryden. The legendary goalkeeper won six Stanley Cups with the Canadiens between 1970 and 1979.

“Everyone is excited and energized,” he continues. Even those who are not partisans become partisans. We talk about it in offices, at school. People wear their jerseys. It’s so funny. And I know that was the case in Canada at the time. ”

Dryden imagines it by recalling some highlights of this very precise moment in Canadian history.

“I would have liked to have been there, to experience these ups and downs for almost a month. Then find myself on September 28th and, in front of me, this match that will be played. It would be great. Nobody will listen to this game alone or in pairs. He will be lived with the whole family. It will be seen by children in their school classes. […] In appliance stores, where televisions will gather 30-40 people, both sitting and standing. ”

“Yes, it was great to be in Moscow, on the other side of the ice on which Paul Henderson scored. But it would have been great to be in Canada at that time. ”


Our interview with Ken Dryden takes place in the context of the release of his book The series of the century: how I lived it. The book is in stores since August 24th.


Ken Dryden

This book, on the other hand, has decided to “never write it”. The story had already been told, by him, by others, by the 25thAndfor 40Anddifferent ways.

When he started to think about it more seriously, “the subtitle idea came first”.

In the original English version, the novel is titled The series: what I remember, how it was, how it feels now (literally : What I remember, how it made me feel, how I feel today).

He found his vein by thinking of all those Canadians today who have no precise memory of that month of September 1972.

It’s really hard for people who haven’t experienced it to know what it was like.

Ken Dryden

“The only way to convey this well is to try to put the reader in your shoes. In the moment. In real time. Living it alone, they are lucky to have that moment ah-ah! and understand why it was different. ”


The series: what I remember, how it was, how it feels now

“It was a big, big deal”

“Different” from other hockey tournaments in which Canada has triumphed, such as the 1987 Cup with Wayne Gretzky, or the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and Sidney Crosby’s winning goal.

Why did 16 million out of 22 million people gather to watch this match during a day of school and work?

Ken Dryden

“Why did 3,000 Canadians go to Moscow? While in 1972 no one really traveled to Europe, let alone Eastern Europe, and never to the Soviet Union. Why did they go? Why did the players feel this way? ”

The convoy of Canadian partisans in the USSR also remains his most surprising memory.

“It was a big, big deal. […] For the most part they were ordinary citizens with modest income. They didn’t want to be there just to tick something off a wish list – they were there because they felt something for hockey and Canada. ”


Ken Dryden

On the top

In addition to making a CBC documentary in 1988, Ken Dryden has never reviewed the 1972 Summit Series games. For fear of tarnishing his teammates’ memories or “clouding” his emotions, he writes in his book of 200 pages.

Because these eight games are “the pinnacle” of his hockey career success, according to him. Even above the championships with the Canadian.

“And I bet if you ask other Canadian players besides the Soviets […], they will give you the same answer. ”

“It’s the show that stands out the most,” he concludes. What is anchored most deeply in us. ”

Double bites

In his interview with colleague Richard Labbé published last Sunday, Paul Henderson indicated that the Canadian players were not showing their best physical shape before facing the Soviets. At the time they used NHL preseason games to get their appeal back. While summer was for beer drinking, Phil Esposito told CBC.

The fitness of the players is probably what sank Canada at the start of the series. But Ken Dryden brings some nuances.

“When you prepare for an NHL season, you prepare in the same way as everyone else. You are on the same level as the guy next to you who will fight for your position. And on the same level as the other teams. ”

While among the Soviets, “the political system allowed athletes to be forced into a year-round training regime”.

“We were preparing with a normal retreat, while their level of form had never dropped after the season […]. So there was a fitness gap. ”

But Dryden recalls that hockey began to be played in Russia only in 1946. The players therefore had to work hard to bridge the gap.

“They had to work there for more months than us. ”


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