The Game. Rev. ed.
Raymond B. Blake is an assistant professor of history at Mount Allison
University in New Brunswick.
Ken Dryden is best remembered for his heroics against the Boston Bruins
in the 1970–71 playoffs. The Bruins had Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito,
who together scored nearly 300 points. Two others had topped the
100-point plateau. The team had scored 108 times more than Montreal. The
Canadiens’ top scorer, with only 76 points, was the venerable Jean
Beliveau. When the teams met in Boston in the first round of the
playoffs, Dryden, who had played only six NHL games, found himself the
Canadiens’ starting goaltender. He shocked the Bruins and, as Montreal
has done so often, eliminated them from the playoffs. Dryden went on to
win the Conn Smythe Trophy as the top playoff performer, and the
Canadiens won yet another Stanley Cup.
Dryden has also received many accolades for The Game, which first
appeared 10 years ago. Reading this book now serves to remind us how
fleeting fame is for “hockey stars.” Players such as Bobby Orr, Brad
Park, Bernie Parent, Guy Lafleur, Marcel Dionne, and Gilbert Perreault
are pretty much forgotten, though Scotty Bowman still coaches. What
makes The Game timely still is that Dryden gives us a fascinating
picture of life in hockey as it was and probably remains: the
dressing-room antics, the rigors of road games, the dynamics of a
winning team, the dedication and the struggle of individual players.
There have been changes in the game, changes lamented by the author.
Hockey became a “part of our suburban middle-class culture” when it
moved from the lakes, rivers, and backyards to the indoor rinks. For
Dryden, hockey outdoors was an attitude, “a metaphor for unstructured,
unorganized time alone,” a time when kids could dream and have fun
playing hockey all day. Today, kids play in organized leagues with
regular shifts (and less ice time) and are driven by money, which has
become the prime motivation of the game.
For anyone interested in Canadian sports, and even politics (Dryden has
some interesting comments on French–English relations), this is a book
worth reading. An additional chapter revealing Dryden’s thoughts on
hockey since 1983 would have made this “new” edition even more