Apologies first. It wasn’t my intent to focus my first two installments of “At the Buzzer” on, of all people and teams, Ken Dryden and the Montreal Canadiens. I’ve cheered for two professional hockey teams in my life — the New York Rangers while I was a snot-nosed kid growing up in New Jersey, and the Boston Bruins, after my family moved to New Hampshire following my sophomore year in high school. Both those allegiances make me a card-carrying member of the “Hate the Habs” fraternity.
But I always respected Dryden, not only as a supremely talented goaltender, but also as a thoughtful observer of the game. All facets of the game. As I delved into the inaugural “At the Buzzer” column, which highlighted the need for unstructured play (based on a chapter in Dryden’s wonderful treatise on hockey, “The Game”), I realized I had too much material. Moreover, two distinct themes emerged. The first was the need for kids to enjoy more free time.
This is the second of those themes: What do kids do with that free time? Once again, I’m leaning on Dryden, and specifically, his admiration for teammate Guy Lafleur. So I’ll put aside my own prejudices for all things “Bleu, blanc, et rouge” to see what we can learn from this dominating cast of characters. And we can learn plenty. After all, Dryden won six Stanley Cups in eight years with the Canadiens. Even though he was literally surrounded by an All-Star cast, there’s simply no denying that level of success.