Ken Dryden

Kenneth Wayne Dryden, (born August 8, 1947) is a Canadian politician, lawyer, businessman, author, and former NHL goaltender. He is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame. Dryden was a Liberal Member of Parliament from 2004 until losing his seat in the 2011 Canadian federal elections to ConservativeMark Adler.

Early life and hockey career

Dryden was born in Hamilton, Ontario,[1] the son of Murray and Margaret Dryden and brother of Dave Dryden, also an NHL goaltender. Dryden was raised inIslington (then just outside Toronto) and drafted fourteenth overall by the Boston Bruins in the 1964 NHL Amateur Draft. Later the same day, Boston traded Dryden to the Montreal Canadiens, along with Alex Campbell, for Paul Reid and Guy Allen, whom the Bruins highly valued. Dryden was informed by his agent that he had been drafted by the Canadiens, and did not find out until the mid-1970s that he had originally been a Bruin.[2]

Rather than play in Montreal, Dryden pursued a Bachelor of Arts degree at Cornell University, where he also played hockey until his graduation in 1969. He backstopped the Cornell Big Red to the 1967 National Collegiate Athletic Association championship and to three consecutive ECAC tournament championships under coach Ned Harkness, winning 76 of his 81 varsity starts.[3] He also was a member of the Canadian amateur national team at the 1969Ice Hockey World Championship tournament in Stockholm.

Dryden made his NHL debut in 1971 for the Canadiens, playing only six regular-season games after a late-season call-up but sporting a minuscule 1.65 goals-against average. This earned him the number 1 goalie job for the playoffs ahead of veteran All-Star Rogie Vachon, and the Canadiens rode their hot young goalie to win the Stanley Cup. He then became the backbone of 5 more Stanley Cup-winning teams in 1973, 1976, 1977, 1978, and 1979. During that first playoff season, Dryden won the Conn Smythe Trophy (1971), as the playoffs’ most valuable player. The following year Dryden won the Calder Trophy, 1972, as the Rookie of the year because the previous year he did not play enough regular season games to become eligible. He remains the only NHL player to ever win the Conn Smythe Trophy before winning the rookie of the year award. In the autumn of 1972 Dryden played for Team Canada in the 1972 Summit Series against the Soviet national ice hockey team.

Dryden played from 1971 to 1979, except for the 1973–74 season, when he was unhappy about the contract that the Canadiens offered him, which he considered less than his market worth, given that he had won the Stanley Cup and Vezina Trophy. He skipped training camp and held out that season, incurring the wrath of Canadiens General Manager Sam Pollock whose previous stars had usually signed for the amount that he had offered. The Canadiens still had a good season, going 45-24-9, but lost in the first round of the playoffs to the New York Rangers in six games. The Canadiens allowed 56 more goals in the 1973–74 season than they had the year before with Dryden.[4] Dryden used that year to fulfill the requirements for his law degree at McGill and article for a law firm. He retired following the 1978-79 season at age 31.

Compared to most other goaltending greats (and Hockey Hall of Fame players), Dryden’s NHL career was extremely short: just over seven full seasons. Therefore, statistically he did not amass record totals in most categories. As he played all his years with a dynasty and retired before he could pass his prime, his statistical percentages are unparalleled. His regular season totals include a .790 winning percentage, a 2.24 goals against average, and, most incredibly, winning 258 games and losing only 57 games while recording 46 shutouts in just 397 NHL games. No other modern goaltender has ever been even remotely close to earning nearly as many shutouts as recording losing games. He won the Vezina Trophy five times for allowing the fewest goals and in the same years was selected as a First Team All-Star. Despite the comparative brevity of his career, in 1998, he was ranked number 25 on The Hockey News’ list of the 100 Greatest Hockey Players.

Dryden was so tall, at 6 foot 4 inches (193 cm), that he was often seen during stoppages in play in what became his trademark pose: resting with his blocker propped up by his goalie stick which was angled to its maximum possible height. One of his nicknames was the “four-story goalie”.

Dryden was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1983. His #29 was retired by the Canadiens on January 29, 2007, and his #1 which he wore while playing for the Cornell Big Red was retired on February 25, 2010, making him one of only two players to have his number retired by Cornell’s hockey program (the other player, Joe Nieuwendyk, had his number retired with Dryden).[5]


Dryden earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in history at Cornell University’s Department of History and a degree in Law at McGill University. He has received honorary doctoral degrees from the University of Ottawa, University of Windsor, York University, McMaster University, Saint Mary’s University, Niagara University and University of British Columbia. At Cornell, he was a member of the Sigma Phi Society and vice-president of the Quill and Dagger society.

[edit]Writing career

Book cover ofThe Game

Dryden wrote one book during his hockey career: Face-Off at the Summit. This was written in diary form and outlined the Canadian experience in the famous Canada vs. Soviet Union series of 1972. The book has been out of print for many years. It is a fairly standard account, unlike The Game which frequently digresses into non-hockey related information.

After retiring from hockey Dryden wrote several more books. His book The Game (1983) was a commercial and critical success, being nominated for a Governor General’s Award. His next book, Home Game: Hockey and Life in Canada (1990), written with Roy MacGregor, was developed into an award-winning Canadian Broadcasting Corporation six-part documentary series for television. His fourth book wasThe moved and the shaken: The story of one man’s life (1993). His fifth book, In School: Our Kids, Our Teachers, Our Classrooms(1995), written with Roy MacGregor, was about Canada’s education system. Becoming Canada (2010) argued for a new definition of Canada and its unique place in the world.


He served as Ontario’s first Youth Commissioner from 1984 to 1986. Dryden worked as a television hockey commentator at the 1980, 1984 and 1988 Winter Olympics. Dryden served as a colour commentator alongside play-by-play man Al Michaels for the American Broadcasting Company’s coverage of the famousMiracle on Ice. Just seconds before Mike Eruzione’s game winning goal for the USA, Dryden expressed his concern that the U.S. was “relying a little too much on [goaltender] Jim Craig” after Craig had just made a series of great saves.


Minority owner Larry Tanenbaum hired Dryden to become the president of the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey club in 1997. Pat Quinn became head coach in 1998, and the two men reportedly had a frosty relationship. A few months after joining the Leafs, Quinn took on the General Manager position, reportedly to preempt Dryden from hiring his preferred GM which was former Habs teammate Bob Gainey.[4]

On August 29, 2003, with the hiring of John Ferguson, Jr. as GM, there was a major management shakeup. Majority owner Steve Stavro was bought out by the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and he stepped down as chairman in favour of Larry Tanenbaum. Quinn continued as head coach but was relieved of GM duties. Dryden’s position was abolished, in favour of having both the Leafs and Raptorsmanagers reporting directly to MLSE President and CEO Richard Peddie. Dryden was shuffled to the less important role of vice-chairman and given a spot on MLSE’s board of directors, which was described by commentators as “sitting outside the loop” as he did not report directly to Leafs ownership.[4][6] He stayed on until 2004 when he resigned to enter politics.

[edit]Political career

Dryden joined the Liberal Party of Canada and ran for the House of Commons in the federal election held in June 2004. Dryden had been selected by Prime Minister Paul Martin as a “star candidate” in what is considered a safe Liberal riding. Earlier, on May 13, 2004, incumbent Art Eggleton announced that he would not run for re-election, paving the way for Dryden to contest the Toronto riding of York Centre. Eggleton, who was later appointed to the Senate, denied that the party asked him to step aside.[7]

While campaigning, a letter sent to Dryden by Ya’acov Brosh, Consul-General of Israel in Toronto was put in Dryden’s campaign literature, allegedly without Brosh’s permission.[8] Brosh worried that the letter would be misconstrued as political interference. The Consul-General did give permission to “circulate” the letter but insisted that it was not intended to be any kind of endorsement. The letter was sent to Dryden thanking him for his participation in a ceremony commemorating the 10th anniversary of the assassination of former Israel Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

Dryden was elected to Parliament and was named to Cabinet as Minister of Social Development. He made headlines on February 16, 2005, as the target of a remark by Conservative Member of Parliament Rona Ambrose who said about Dryden, “working women want to make their own choices, we don’t need old white guys telling us what to do.” Dryden won generally favourable reviews for his performance in Cabinet.

On November 5, 2005, Dryden as Minister of Social Development obtained early-learning and child care deals with all 10 provinces.[9] He was re-elected in the 2006 federal election. The Liberals were defeated and Paul Martin resigned the party leadership. Interim party and opposition leader Bill Graham named Dryden to his shadow cabinet as health critic. Dryden lost his seat in the 2011 Canadian federal elections to Mark Adler.

[edit]Leadership bid

Further information: Liberal Party of Canada leadership election, 2006

On April 28, 2006, Dryden confirmed rumours[10] that he would run for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada, which would be choosing a successor to Paul Martin at a convention in Montreal on December 2, 2006. A variety of media pundits criticized Dryden’s ponderous speaking style and limited French. Supporters argued that few people were strongly opposed to him and that if he ran he could attract more support on later ballots as a consensus candidate.

A poll[11] found that Dryden’s potential pool of support exceeded that of his opponents, due mainly to his former NHL career. However, his fundraising efforts left him well behind the top tier of leadership contenders (Michael Ignatieff, Gerard Kennedy, Stéphane Dion and Bob Rae). Despite initially being a very high profile candidate for leadership, his organizational efforts were disappointing, placing him in the bottom rank of remaining candidates. After gaining less than 5% of first round ballots for the Liberal leadership, Dryden was one of the “bottom four” candidates that had been written off by the media as unlikely to win the Liberal leadership.

In an interview with the Toronto Star on November 13, 2006, Dryden expressed concern that United States Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean should not be speaking at the Liberal Party of Canada’s national convention in Montreal on November 29 out of fear that a foreigner would put the party out of touch with most Canadians.[12]

Dryden came in 5th place on the first ballot with 238 delegates 4.9% of the vote. On the second ballot, he came in last place with 219 votes (4.7%) and was eliminated. He initially threw his support to Bob Rae, but after Rae was eliminated in the third ballot and released all of his delegates, Dryden went over to Stéphane Dion, who went on to win the leadership.

[edit]Personal life

Dryden and his wife Lynda have two children and four grandchildren.[13]



  • Face-Off at the Summit (1973)
  • The Game (1983)
  • Home Game: Hockey and Life in Canada (with Roy MacGregor, 1990)
  • In School: Our Kids, Our Teachers, Our Classrooms (with Roy MacGregor, 1995)
  • The Moved and the Shaken (1993)
  • Becoming Canada (2010)

[edit]Awards and achievements

  • Conn Smythe Trophy winner in 1971.
  • Calder Memorial Trophy winner in 1972.
  • Vezina Trophy winner in 1973, 1976, 1977*, 1978*, 1979*.
  • Stanley Cup champion in 1971, 1973, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979.
  • Played in 1972, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978 NHL All-Star Games.
  • Selected to NHL First All-Star Team in 1973, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979.
  • Selected to NHL Second All-Star Team in 1972.
  • Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1983.
  • In 1998, he was ranked number 25 on The Hockey News’ list of the 100 Greatest Hockey Players.
  • His number 29 was retired by the Montreal Canadiens on January 29, 2007.
  • His number 1 was retired by the Cornell Big Red on February 25, 2010 making him one of only two players to have his number retired by the Cornell hockey program, the other being Joe Nieuwendyk.
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