Monday, March 14, 2011

Absurd Goalie Monday: Dave Dryden

It's hard to play in the shadow of a more famous brother, especially if he's younger. Hard to make it into the NHL and stick, as well. However, this week's AGM overcame both of these task and even went so far as revolutionizing the game for modern day goalies, plus jump-started the pro-career of the best in the game. This week, the profile of Dave Dryden.

Dryden started his career in Junior B with the Aurora Bears in the 1958-59 season, playing in 48 games with three shutouts and a 3.52 GAA for the season. Moving up to the St. Michael's Majors in 1959-60, Dryden would play in 12 games behind Gerry Cheevers that season, then 18 games the next season. Dryden was on the roster for the St. Mike's Memorial Cup championship in the 1961 tournament. The 1961-62 season had Dryden move to the Toronto Marlboros, where he would play 32 games, finishing with a 17-8-6 record, with three shutouts-- then going 7-5 in the OHA playoffs. His play afforded Dryden the chance to play one game in the AHL with the Rochester Americans (no decision) and a call-up to the NHL with the New York Rangers, which would result in a loss.

After his junior career, Dryden would have to play with senior hockey in the OHA, as there weren't many jobs in the NHL. In the 1962-63 and 1963-64 season, Dryden tended goal for the Galt Terriers-- playing in 79 games over two season, with two shutouts in that time-span and a 3.99 GAA. The 1964-65 season would see Dryden play with the Galt Hornets, playing in 35 games before received a call-up to the AHL's Buffalo Bisons, playing in four games, winning all four and compiling a 1.50 GAA.

Dryden got a chance in the NHL again, getting signed by the Chicago Blackhawks for the 1965-66 season, playing in 11 games and going 3-4-1 in those games. However, with Glenn Hall there, Dryden would be sent down to the CPHL's St. Louis Braves for the 1966-67 season, going 17-17-14 in 48 games that season. However, due to expansion, Dryden would be back with the Hawks for the 1967-68 season, playing in 27 games behind Denis DeJordy and going 7-8-5. The 1968-69 season saw Dryden get a small increase in games, playing in 30 and racking up a 11-11-2 record in those games. Yet, with the arrival of Tony Esposito in the 1969-70 season, Dryden was relegated to the Dallas Black Hawks of the Central League, playing in two games, losing both; as he was suspended because of his refusal to report at first.

Hope was almost running out, as Dryden would be playing with the Salt Lake Golden Eagles of the Western League at the start of the 1970-71 season, where he would play in 8 games and go 1-6-0. However, thanks to the expansion era, Dryden got new life in the NHL, with the Buffalo Sabres picking him up to play for them. He would get in 10 games that season, going 3-3-0, allowing himself some back-up time to start with in Buffalo.

During that 1970-71 season, Dryden was hoping to get to play against the Montreal Canadiens, where his younger brother Ken was playing. On March 20, 1971-- the game was to happen, but the Canadiens started Rogie Vachon over Ken Dryden; so the Sabres played Joe Daley over Dave. However, Vachon got hurt, with allowed Ken to play-- to which, Sabres coach Punch Imlach immediately replaced Daley with Dave-- marking the first (and only) time two brothers have faced off against each other in goal in a NHL game. After the Canadiens won, the Drydens met at center ice and shook hands in a sign of respect.

Dave Dryden would be back in Buffalo in the 1971-72 season, playing in 20 games and going 3-9-5. However, Dryden started to come out of his shell in the 1972-73 season, playing in 37 games and putting together a 14-13-7 record, but going 0-2 in the playoffs. The starting role of the Sabres would go to Dryden in the 1973-74 season; playing in 53 games and finishing with a solid 23-20-8 record with a stellar 2.97 GAA.

As Dryden's stock was on the rise, the WHA came calling with the Chicago Cougars plucking Dryden away from the NHL for the 1974-75 season, going 18-26-1 in 46 games with the Cougars. The new Edmonton Oilers would claim Dryden in the WHA Dispersal Draft, as he would take the starting gig in Edmonton, going 22-34-5 in 62 games of the 1975-76 season. It would be a topsy-turvy 1976-77 season for Dryden, playing in 24 games with Edmonton, going 10-13-0 for this troubles. However, Dryden would be traded to the New England Whalers in January 1977, but refused to report to the Whalers and subsequently suspended. Dryden's refusal paid off, as the Whalers traded him back to Edmonton in September of 1977, and Dryden would going 21-23-2 for the 1977-78 season.

It was a banner year for Dryden in the 1978-79 season, for good and bad reasons. Of course, the WHA was the starting point for Wayne Gretzky, who scored his first professional goal in the WHA on Dryden-- when Gretzky was part of the Indianapolis Racers. Gretzky would then be dealt to the Oilers, which helped Dryden's career season-- as he would go 41-17-2 for the powerhouse Oilers, even though they would lose in the AVCO Cup finals. That season, Dryden won the Ben Hatskin Trophy for Best Goaltender, as well as the Gordie Howe Trophy for WHA MVP of the season.

The Oilers would move over to the NHL for the 1979-80 season, but Dryden almost didn't make the trip over. The Buffalo Sabres claimed Dryden prior to the Oilers' Expansion Draft, but the Oilers reclaimed him as a priority selection in the Draft. Yet, Dryden would only see 14 games, with a 2-7-3 record in those games before retiring.

However, before he retired; Dryden created an innovation in goaltending equipment, which would be a godsend for today's keepers. Dryden created the first fiberglass mask with a cage; which was a primitive look at what we see today in the NHL. It provided full protection to the head, while allowing a clear sight with the cage element to it.

After retiring, Dryden would go to coach the OHL's Peterborough Petes for two seasons, then being the goaltending coach of the Detroit Red Wings for the 1983-84 season. Currently, Dryden is the chairman for Sleeping Children Around the World, a charity providing bed kits and clothing to children in developing nations. This charity was started by Dryden's father, Murray.

While he had to live in the shadow of his overly successful brother, Dave carved a niche out for himself in a solid fashion. He was never put into the most flattering positions, the fact he stuck it out through the lean years and actually knew where he wanted to be and not accepting anything less, he showed the winning instinct that seemed to be a family trait, regardless of personal achievement.

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