Turk Says Dryden’s Overrated



In Derek Sanderson’s 2012 book “Crossing The Line” that I got at the St. Hubert Library, he says Ken Dryden was overrated, which we’ve all heard from time to time. At least I have.

Sanderson talked about how the Bruins were the better team against Montreal in 1971, but they shot themselves in the foot. Boston didn’t take the Canadiens seriously. He didn’t really talk about Dryden’s accomplishments, he only mentioned that the young goalie had arrived on the scene, had only six games under his belt before the playoffs began, and proceeded to somehow get his body in the way.

He sort of mentioned that the Habs eliminated Boston, but he didn’t go near the Habs winning the Cup after beating Chicago in the finals, and Dryden being awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy. We wouldn’t expect him to. The book’s not about the Habs.

When you put it all together though, it’s a magical piece of hockey lore. Maybe not so much for Bruins fans I guess. They probably hate the story.

Turk Sanderson says this: “Dryden was highly overrated, in my opinion, but he was the first big goaltender. He covered the top of the net so well, and when he dropped and spread, he covered a lot of ground in the bottom part. You’d turn to shoot, and he would have that area covered because of his size. It took us a while to get used to that. It created problems we had never seen before.”

Sanderson goes on to say, “Dryden didn’t provide the stellar goaltending everybody continues to talk about. You could score on Dryden. He wasn’t that good; he was just different.”

Sanderson is saying that Dryden wasn’t a good goalie, he was just a big goalie. But Sanderson was a Bruin for many of the years when they played against each, and he might still have Habs/Bruins issues.

Dryden was in goal for game 8 when it was for all the marbles so Harry Sinden must not have thought he was overrated. And Sinden coached Sanderson. Dryden also collected 6 Stanley Cups during those days, but maybe a much lesser goalie might have too considering the team up front with Lafleur, Robinson, Lemaire et al.

Like I said, I’ve heard various people say over the years that Dryden was overrated but I tend to not think much about it. I just wonder if there are many other players who played against him, like Sanderson did, who also feel he was overrated. And if lots do, does that mean he was?

As an aside, Sanderson also says Cam Neely was the greatest right winger to ever play the game.


Dryden’s always had a bit of a reputation for not being overly-enthusiastic about signing autographs, and here’s a great exampleWindsor Star.

10 thoughts on “Turk Says Dryden’s Overrated”

  1. I love autobiographies by stars who’ve blown their mind out on drugs. Always controversial – always incomplete!

  2. Bonehead drug and alcohol addicted twit, what is it ? something in the beantown water. Loved watching Sanderson compete but after the W.H.A. fiasco i lost respect for that man !

  3. Typical, bitter ex-Boston Bruin. His book will sell well in Boston and amongst Bruins fans, and that’s it.

  4. Dryden is definitely overrated. Probably overrated as an intellectual, too (it doesn’t take a lot to impress hockey writers, after all). Whenever he faced a team that could play a solid east-west game – Soviets, Buffalo Sabres – his failings were exposed: clumsy, poor side-to-side, more big than great (and a middling athlete). It’s unfortunate he didn’t play on a mediocre NHL team so that the real Dryden could have been seen instead of the romanticized one who played behind the greatest defence ever assembled on one NHL squad. Sanderson is right: Dryden wasn’t great; he was merely “different”. And a pompous ass, to boot.

  5. As far as why Sinden went with Dryden….well, I think he kept thinking back to the one elite playoff series Dryden ever had (in 1971). He must have thought Dryden could surprise and delight him for once against a good east-west team. But, alas, that wasn’t going to happen. Canada was fortunate to win that series given how poorly prepared they were.

  6. They were very poorly prepared, hockey fan. That’s not new news and no one on the team denied it. I saw all 8 games on TV, and yes, Dryden was shaky often but still had some nice moments. And about your other comments about Dryden’s ability, you definitely seem like you’re not crazy about him. That’s fine, everyone has opinions. I think Bobby Orr is the greatest ever but others say Gretzky or Howe and sometimes others. As far as “overrated as an intellectual, I don’t know him personally but I do see a smart, well-spoken man, and his book “The Game” has been rated by more than one reviewer as possibly the best sports book ever written. It’s a great read, even if you hate the Canadiens. I think Dryden was an overall great goaltender, and he acknowledges that he never seemed to play well in international action. “A pompous ass?” I don’t know, I’ve never met him. It’s a slightly harsh statement.

  7. I believe he was overrated, and he played for a great team, but despite what many people say about athletes in those types of situations, not anybody could have had the same success. If Dryden never comes along, it’s quite possible, and even likely that the Canadiens enjoy similar success through the 70’s with Rogie Vachon, but we’ll never know. On the other hand, if the Habs have Tony Esposito through the 70’s, I don’t see the same success for them at all. Another overrated goalie, who for all his accomplishments in Chicago, was largely responsible for the Hawks falling to the Canadiens in the ’71 final, much to Dryden’s benefit. Again, there’s no way to know unless you could have all goalies in identical circumstances, which is obviously not possible.

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