Despite being one of the more learned specimens of hockey player, goalie Ken Dryden was not above being lured into the murky underworld of superstitious folly like his puck-playing colleagues. In his case, they numbered several, all of them as erudite or ridiculous as anyone else’s.
Most of Dryden’s superstitions had to do with his time on ice before a game. For starters, he had to fire the first puck of the pre-game skate wide and to the right, hitting the boards. If he hit the glass or failed to raise the puck at all, he would play poorly. But if he hit the boards themselves, he’d play well.
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At the end of the warm-up, he always had to make one final save before skating off. Never leave the ice after allowing a goal on the last shot, he believed. Teammate Larry Robinson figured this out and made sure to snap an easy one for Dryden to pick off, but Dryden figured out his teammate’s generosity and made the last pre-Robinson save the important one.
One day Dryden said a few words to an usherette named Joyce who worked behind the visitors’ bench. He played well that night and then made it a point to look at her during the warm-up every home game. After he lost a game, he never looked at Joyce again. Poor dear.
Most commonsensical was the final moment before the opening faceoff. With the players lined up at centre ice, the referee performed one last duty before dropping the puck. He’d look to one end, where the goal judge would flash the red goal light to indicate it was working; then he’d do the same at the other end. Dryden made a point of not looking at the red light when it flashed on. The last thing he needed right before the opening faceoff was a reminder of being scored upon.
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