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Ken Dryden's GP

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12-27-2014, 12:33 PM
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LeBlondeDemon10
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Ken Dryden's GP

During the Habs late 70's dynasty, Dryden's games played were reduced every year up to and including his final season where he only played in 47 regular season games. Laroque was a competent backup, but who wouldn't be behind that defense. Was this a league-wide trend or was Bowman pacing Dryden or losing confidence in him? Seems to me he wasn't utilizing one of his best assets optimally.

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12-27-2014, 02:09 PM
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Killion
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Not entirely sure LBD, but arguably Dryden (like Lafleur who did make a comeback & a few others) actually had some hockey left him in when he retired. I suspect Bowman felt he was at his peak playing fewer games, playing games himself with Dryden making sure he didnt develop any complacency, sense of entitlement that he was bigger than the team or the best goalie in the game or whatever. Bowman was pretty ruthless that way. Didnt care about what youddone in the past, what are you doing right now, next shift, and if you cannot do what youve done in the past your gone. No passengers on this bus. In Drydens book The Game, he really doesnt talk much about hard-core main street level Don Cherry like hockey factoids. Its all rambling esoteric prose, entire paragraphs describing a snowstorm in Montreal, or some foggy description of Guy Lafleur, on par with something Descartes or some Fop at Cambridge in the late 19th Century might write.

He says a lot but he really says nothing about the real nitty gritty, nuts & bolts of playing goal, playing pro, playing in the NHL. Why did Bowman sit him? Scotty Bowman might have explained why in some article or interview in the intervening 34+ years but if so, Ive never heard why. Dryden never explained it in his book. Very much written the way a lot of lawyers & politicians speak & write. A lot of words, very articulate, but once distilled down in attempting to determine what theyve said & meant, meaningless! Like, huh?.... Even some of the facts in this "greatest hockey book ever written" are so askew as to be laughable, games unfolding that Dryden describes, accrediting goals & so on to players who didnt actually score or entire scores & games mixed up & muddled. Dont get me wrong, it is a great book. But youd learn more about hockey, tactics, training, everything in watching a few Rock em' Sock em' DVD's or reading Tarasovs' or Shores, Imlachs or whomevers autobiographies. So were left guessing. Like its all in dream, the smoke never clearing when you try to determine such with Dryden. And I suppose if you asked him directly why, youd get a 10,000 word oration on the matter, leaving confused, no further ahead than you were beforehand.


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12-27-2014, 02:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Killion View Post
He says a lot but he really says nothing about the real nitty gritty, nuts & bolts of playing goal, playing pro, playing in the NHL.
Yes, its more of an abstract painting filled with metaphors. symbolism and read between the lines kind of stuff. Make up your own story as you read. I suppose that's the beauty of it. Read and re-read it many years ago. Enjoyed it thoroughly both times, but then barely read (if I even finished) his next book. Too wordy and heady for me. A real bore, sounding more and more like somebody who liked to hear himself speak. One thing that is clear in The Game is his growing dissonance with the game. Perhaps, the ever astute Bowman sensed his ambivalence and decided to save him for the games Dryden may be most interested in all the while keeping him sharp with added games. Bowman likely knew on some level Dryden was coming to the end of his career. Very evident in his quick hook of Dryden in the playoffs that year. Bowman, perhaps fed up with his all-star goalie who seemed to have lost his passion for the game and performance.

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12-27-2014, 02:30 PM
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Not entirely sure LBD, but arguably Dryden (like Lafleur who did make a comeback & a few others) actually had some hockey left him in when he retired. I suspect Bowman felt he was at his peak playing fewer games, playing games himself with Dryden making sure he didnt develop any complacency, sense of entitlement that he was bigger than the team or the best goalie in the game or whatever. Bowman was pretty ruthless that way. Didnt care about what youddone in the past, what are you doing right now, next shift, and if you cannot do what youve done in the past your gone. No passengers on this bus. In Drydens book The Game, he really doesnt talk much about hard-core main street level Don Cherry like hockey factoids. Its all rambling esoteric prose, entire paragraphs describing a snowstorm in Montreal, or some foggy description of Guy Lafleur, on par with something Descartes or some Fop at Cambridge in the late 19th Century might write.

He says a lot but he really says nothing about the real nitty gritty, nuts & bolts of playing goal, playing pro, playing in the NHL. Why did Bowman sit him? Scotty Bowman might have explained why in some article or interview in the intervening 34+ years but if so, Ive never heard why. Dryden never explained it in his book. Very much written the way a lot of lawyers & politicians speak & write. A lot of words, very articulate, but once distilled down in attempting to determine what theyve said & meant, meaningless! Like, huh?.... Even some of the facts in this "greatest hockey book ever written" are so askew as to be laughable, games unfolding that Dryden describes, accrediting goals & so on to players who didnt actually score or entire scores & games mixed up & muddled. Dont get me wrong, it is a great book. But youd learn more about hockey, tactics, training, everything in watching a few Rock em' Sock em' DVD's or reading Tarasovs' or Shores, Imlachs or whomevers autobiographies. So were left guessing. Like its all in dream, the smoke never clearing when you try to determine such with Dryden. And I suppose if you asked him directly why, youd get a 10,000 word oration on the matter, leaving confused, no further ahead than you were beforehand.
LOL, it's Dryden...you would leave more confused than you started...

I always felt Dryden psyched himself out against the Soviets/Red Army...believing there was more to them than met the eye... which there was, but dammit...just stop the dam puck

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12-27-2014, 05:08 PM
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By the late-70s most teams were using two goalies regularly, the lone holdout being Chicago who started Esposito as much as possible.

Dryden usually got the start against the top teams (I don't think Larocque ever started against Boston), and when the playoffs started there was no doubt about who their starter was.

Interesting to note that shortly after Dryden retired, Montreal acquired Denis Herron from Pittsburgh. Seemed to indicate that they had doubts about Larocque stepping into the #1 role.

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12-27-2014, 05:44 PM
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By the late-70s most teams were using two goalies regularly, the lone holdout being Chicago who started Esposito as much as possible.

Dryden usually got the start against the top teams (I don't think Larocque ever started against Boston), and when the playoffs started there was no doubt about who their starter was.

Interesting to note that shortly after Dryden retired, Montreal acquired Denis Herron from Pittsburgh. Seemed to indicate that they had doubts about Larocque stepping into the #1 role.
I think they had the same doubts about Larocque that every team has when they are in a similar position. Larocque was unproven in the playoffs, and the team had no one who had a single game of NHL experience behind him (I believe).

I thought Herron was a very marginal NHL goalie, and was largely regarded as such by that point in his career. The fact the Habs acquired him suggests to me they actually thought Laocque would succeed in replacing Dryden, and they simply wanted a competent backup.

But, I understand your viewpoint to. Perhaps it was a sign that they had doubts about Bunny.

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12-27-2014, 06:33 PM
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But, I understand your viewpoint to. Perhaps it was a sign that they had doubts about Bunny.
Oh, Im quite certain they had no doubts in their minds that Larocque was not a capable Starter in the NHL. He'd been an AHL 2nd Team All Star & played extremely well with Nova Scotia, through Junior, so during the year Dryden took-off he got about 27 games or so sharing the crease with 2 other guys before the Rangers took him apart in the Playoffs. Thereafter he was relegated to permanent Backup Status playing the weaker opponents in the league though he did on the odd occasion play against better clubs when on the rare nights the Habs had come out listless & lost a game with Dryden in net. With Bunny in net they played a more defensive game, more conscientious, more careful, so on some levels the perfect Backup if Bowman didnt like the way the team was playing. With Larocque back there there would be no 1st or 2nd or 3rd period Heroics. Just steady, reliable but unspectacular goaltending so you guys had better get your acts together type dealeo. With Dryden, if they came out listless, he was capable of the Big Save, often Montreal finding its legs mid way through the 2nd & then in the 3rd, absolutely annihilating their opponents.

Team like the 70's Habs, biggest problem was that they "got up" for games against all of their opponents. They were that much better than the rest of the teams, in a league of their own. As it was, Larocque playing 25-30 games a year still had an excellent winning % and not shabby GAA over his last few years in Montreal of just over two goals a game. Bear in mind though, he'd only played 20 minutes of Playoff Hockey between 74/79. When Pollack handed the reins to Grundman rather than Bowman because he knew Scotty would dismantle the team in a massive re-build, something Pollack simply couldnt stomach, and after Dryden's retirement, it was expected that Larocque would finally step out from Drydens shadow & inherit the Starters role. Well, that didnt happen as we know. Montreal acquiring Denis Herron, a year later Bunny's in Toronto getting shell shocked, in one game letting in 9 Goals in 1 period in a Leafs 14-4 loss vs Buffalo in March 81. I remember as well some nonsense back then that the French Media in Quebec thought Francophone Larocque was being held back, held down, usurped by an Anglophone in Dryden. That Bunny was just as good, as capable. Idiotic stories like that sell newspapers. When your a Superstar Goalie as Dryden was, generally speaking, your Backup is to be used very sparingly, to be seen at practice, not to be heard, to be a good Soldier and thats that. You want steady. If some poor Sod with major talent does wind up as a Backup, youve got one too many goalies & youd better trade him. Let him Start somewhere else. Bunny Larocque for Dryden, that club of the 70's, ideal Backup. Perfect fit.

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12-27-2014, 07:40 PM
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Team like the 70's Habs, biggest problem was that they "got up" for games against all of their opponents. They were that much better than the rest of the teams, in a league of their own. As it was, Larocque playing 25-30 games a year still had an excellent winning % and not shabby GAA over his last few years in Montreal of just over two goals a game. Bear in mind though, he'd only played 20 minutes of Playoff Hockey between 74/79. When Pollack handed the reins to Grundman rather than Bowman because he knew Scotty would dismantle the team in a massive re-build, something Pollack simply couldnt stomach
This fear of dismantling you speak of...What was Pollock afraid Bowman would do? This team was near the end of its expiration date by 79 anyway. They were lucky not to have to face the Isles in the 79 playoffs, even though they still had the horses to beat them. As Dryden wrote in his book, I believe the Isles beat the Habs handily during the regular season that year.

Ironically, Grundman did a fantastic job in dismantling that team.


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12-27-2014, 07:59 PM
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This fear of dismantling you speak of...What was Pollock afraid Bowman would do? This team was near the end of its expiration date by 79 anyway. They were lucky not to have to face the Isles in the 79 playoffs, even though they still had the horses to beat them. As Dryden wrote in his book, I believe the Isles beat the Habs handily during the regular season that year.
Yes, quite interesting. Theres been much written on this subject, Grundman over Bowman, Pollock apparently feeling Scotty was just too headstrong, unwilling to ease into the transition from full-on Dynasty to Re-Build, and that a lot of players, "His Boys" would get trammeled under foot. As it was with Grundman the team was pretty much dismantled anyway and Montreal didnt get much of anything from the loss of a number of great players either through Retirements or Trades. That Bowman had been on Pollocks case earlier wanting to deal this guy or that but that Sam had been very reluctant to do so. That these players had earned the right to retire as Canadiens & so on. There was a real breakdown there, Lafleur as you well know retiring early. Several others retiring prematurely when they did have some hockey left in them and if not in Montreal than elsewhere & the Habs couldve demanded a fairly steep price in return via trade. Ironically at the same time in Toronto, old rivals, the Leafs were also in full-on meltdown mode by that time, player revolt against Imlach etc, a situation that's echo'd to this very day. Montreal did storm back however, not the Dynasty it might have been had Pollock given Bowman more reign from 77 or so on & then Passed The Torch on to him rather than Grundman. While I have nothing but respect for Sam Pollock, didnt agree then nor in retrospect with that decision, made during the waning days of his brilliant career with Montreal. On many levels understandable, but still...


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12-28-2014, 04:28 AM
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Sam Pollock...

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12-28-2014, 11:02 AM
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^^^ thanks tommy. Always mess that name up.

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12-28-2014, 11:17 AM
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1975-76=Ken Dryden 62gp-2.03.1976-77=56gp=2.14.1977-78=52gp=2.05.1978-79-47gp=2.30

Michel Larouque=1975-76-22gp-2.46,1976-77-26gp=2.09,1977-78-30gp-2.67,1978-79 34gp-2.84

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12-28-2014, 11:21 AM
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Michel was a very good back up but proved a year later with Montreal and later Toronto he was not a starter.Funny thing Habs led Nhl in early 1980s in gaa despite having Dennis Herron,Rick Sevingy,Rick Wasmley ect.Problem was in play-offs and big games they were not Dryden level

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12-28-2014, 04:14 PM
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The Game

Heres what Dryden had to say about Bunny in his book:

"After we had played together a year or two, I realized I could stay ahead, but I could not win. Larocque and I compete with each other constantly. Our competition is undeclared, its results known only to us, we say nothing to each other about it. But we know. We compete though we are teammates and share the same goals for the team. We are friendly, if a little guarded with each other, and personally compatible".

Does that telly you anything about Michel Larocque as a Goalie from a technical perspective? This was a case of a Spider and a Fly, and Dryden (the Spider), despite this "undeclared competition" hardly anything to worry about, that Bunny (the Fly) there was going to be struck by lightning, possessed by the Ghost of Georges Vezina and was gunna steal Kenny's J.O.B.? Gimme a break. It was precisely because of Larocques' demeanor & make-up, that he was perfectly content as a passenger & yes contributor to the teams success that he was employed as the Backup.

Remember Wayne Thomas? He Started the Lions Share of the Habs games during Drydens' "leave of absence" going 23-12-5, Larocque & Michel Plasse bringing up the rear in GP's, then Bunny gets the starts in the Playoffs. Montreal dumped in 6 games at the hands of the NY Rangers in 73/74. Upon Drydens return in 74/75, the Habs sat Thomas for the entire season, actually on the active roster before finally trading him the next year. Rather nasty actually. He wouldnt report to the minors, they wouldnt respond to his demands to be traded or played with Starts. Thomas wanted to be a Starter in the NHL, not a backup, was just by disposition a lot more forward, more competitive than Larocque. Wasnt going to displace Dryden but he was a lot more prickly, bigger ego than Bunny. He got that opportunity in Toronto however he eventually lost the Starters job to Mike Palmateer.

Plasse as well an interesting Goalie and situation, heir apparent to the Starter's job in Montreal before & even during Dryden coming along & quickly finding Superstardom. Michel Plasse just outstanding in Junior, the AHL. Yet there was a traffic jam in the crease, in the organization, so Montreal had to off-load, opting to go with Larocque as Backup as he was willing to accept that role graciously & honestly, and as such, really have no idea what Dryden's intimating in that passage from his book. He wasnt "competing" with Bunny Larocque. I could see Dryden having problems with a Backup like Wayne Thomas though, and that wouldnt have been healthy. So it was that the brains of the organization in realizing this went with Larocque, right guy, right place, right time.


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12-28-2014, 06:12 PM
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I don't remember the exact numbers splits that Dryden used in his book, but the other example from his book is where he was talking about how it used to be 60/20 Dryden (games played), and then 50/30, and would likely be 45/35 if it continued.

Dryden either recognized (correctly or not) that Larocque was gaining on him, or was being nice.

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12-28-2014, 06:27 PM
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Bunny certainly pushed Dryden to be a better player, the idea that Dryden wasn't threatened by Bunny is preposterous..

Your job is on the line and there is someone behind you liking their chops, and having a lapse could end your career.

I think Dryden was smart when he left - that guy would have destroyed his legacy had he stayed.

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12-28-2014, 06:32 PM
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Although I don't think Dryden even wanted to play NHL hockey I think the idea was interesting once he was knee deep in it.

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12-28-2014, 07:21 PM
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Although I don't think Dryden even wanted to play NHL hockey I think the idea was interesting once he was knee deep in it.
Makes me wonder if the Habs would have been better off in the long run had they gone with Tony Esposito instead of Dryden. I'm quite confident that Tony O could have fared just as well being in net behind those great 70s teams.

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12-28-2014, 07:27 PM
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Makes me wonder if the Habs would have been better off in the long run had they gone with Tony Esposito instead of Dryden. I'm quite confident that Tony O could have fared just as well being in net behind those great 70s teams.
After 1980 Esposito isn't elite either.

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12-28-2014, 08:02 PM
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so Montreal had to off-load, opting to go with Larocque as Backup as he was willing to accept that role graciously & honestly, and as such, really have no idea what Dryden's intimating in that passage from his book. He wasnt "competing" with Bunny Larocque. I could see Dryden having problems with a Backup like Wayne Thomas though, and that wouldnt have been healthy. So it was that the brains of the organization in realizing this went with Larocque, right guy, right place, right time.
Yeah, no competition there. Perfect scenario for both. Although, maybe a backup with an ego could've pushed Dryden a bit? He's dreaming if he thinks Bunny did or could. Funny how Thomas ended up behind Parent in Philly and ended up starting the 76 Finals against Montreal. Probably would have killed to beat them.

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12-28-2014, 10:29 PM
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Yeah, no competition there. Perfect scenario for both. Although, maybe a backup with an ego could've pushed Dryden a bit? He's dreaming if he thinks Bunny did or could. Funny how Thomas ended up behind Parent in Philly and ended up starting the 76 Finals against Montreal. Probably would have killed to beat them.
Yes, often a very interesting dynamic goes on between a star Starting Goalie and the Backup. There are some funny stories floating around about Ed Belfour for example, how he rather mistreated his Backups'. Certainly Dryden didnt have anything to worry about from Larocque or anyone else on the depth charts however with some Starters like Dryden & Belfour its better for their head spaces that the Backup accepts that role before even the first pre-season game, the Starter if a Star actually asked which one of the 3-5-7 goalies in camp he'd be most comfortable with as his Backup. I dont know that Dryden was afforded that but its likely, very possible. So he may have recommended Larocque knowing full well Bunnys' limitations & psychological make-up, that he wouldnt have any problems with the guy. Larocque reliable enough to not get completely blown out behind the team, but not good enough to play the kind of hockey required against really good teams & in the playoffs. That passage I quoted above from his book The Game I think somewhat revisionary, a nice way to sort of re-write or whitewash things a bit.... You get a guy likeWayne Thomas in there as Backup, he would push for Starts, for games, and that would upset the Apple Cart. Shake Dryden from his comfort zone a bit and thats not good. Guy like that, he's gotta be in a zone, has to feel totally secure, impervious, unassailable. Outside looking in one might call that personality type a Prima Donna and on some levels, not far off the mark.

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