Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Little School with a Big Heart

Submitted by Dave Dryden
Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sacred Heart School in Midland, Ontario is "A Little School with a Big Heart." Children at the school have been donating bedkits to Sleeping Children since Dad first visited the school in 1986.

Today, I visited the school to receive the a donation of 155 bedkits from the school with a JK to grade 8 student population of 210 children. It was truly a memorable experience.

Thanks to the students, staff and parents, you were wonderful.

Dave Dryden

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Dave on the FAN 590

As broadcast on April 15th, 2009

Go to the FAN 590 and listen to Dave Dryden talk about Sleeping Children Around the World in the second half of the show.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Securing Sweet Dreams

As published in the Victoria Province
April 11, 2009

by Elaine O'Connor

Victoria's Judy Dryden is devoting her days to ensuring the world's needy children get a good night's sleep.

The retired public health nurse is a volunteer with Sleeping Children Around the World (SCAW), a charity her parents Margaret and Murray Dryden (parents of hockey stars Ken and Dave Dryden) founded in 1970. But it wasn't until after she retired that she was able to join an international mission to Bangladesh in 2007 and see for herself the difference a safe sleep makes to poor children.

The Canadian registered charity provides bed kits (containing a treated mosquito net, a mat, blankets and pillow, school supplies, towel, shoes, hats, a school uniform and water bottle) to children in the developing world. On Dryden's trip to Pune, India this past February, they came close to distributing their one-millionth kit — 999,850 to date and another 150 to go. The group should reach their goal after a distribution in the Philippines this April.

"We're now at the one million bed kits distributed mark," says the 57-year-old. "Mom and Dad would just be so gratified to see that this has worked."

Pune was the site of SCAW's very first donations almost 40 years ago. There, Dryden helped distribute kits to 3,000 children living in poor rural villages of Sarole Pathar, Javalebaleshwar, Sunjalwadi Pathar, Modhaliwadi and Nandur Kandarmal.

"It was coming full circle," Dryden said. "Being back where Dad started it all and talking to women who had received those early kits as children to see what effects it had on them. Just listening to them talk about it. Besides better sleep, one said she learned her ABCs by reading the pattern on her quilt ... one lady who was now a nurse said she still had the blanket from the bed kit she got as a child in 1983."

As a nurse, Dryden was particularly struck by the health conditions she saw in some of the children, noting eye conditions like strabismus and even blindness appeared to be more common, malnutrition and related hair discoloration were obvious, and some children had burns or amputations from accidents they suffered while working.

The bed kits, Dryden said, are not only crucial to the children's sleep, but to their overall health — the use of treated mosquito nets can radically reduce the incidence of malaria, which can be a major threat to small children, and the water bottle help kids carry potable water with them.

Since its inception, SCAW has raised more than $22 million to provide bedkits for close to one million children in 33 countries, including Bangladesh, Kenya, Honduras, Uganda, Nicaragua, Togo and Tanzania.

It started as a retirement project for Dryden's father. He was an amateur photographer and on one trip to India in the late 1960s he tripped over a child sleeping on the street. He realized he could do something to help children who didn't have a safe place to sleep. In SCAW's first year he and his wife provided bed kits to 50 children in India, and every year their efforts grew. They started with $3,000 of their personal funds and untimately donated some $3 million, as well as leaving their Toronto house to the organization as a head office for 200 volunteers. Murray Dryden was awarded the Order of Canada for his efforts before he passed away in 2004.

The Toronto-based volunteer-run charity also does outreach in Canadian schools. Dryden says many of the donations for bed kits come from concerned B.C. residents and local schools like Richmond's Ecole des Navigateurs have pitched in.

Each $35 donation to SCAW buys one bed kit, sourced locally in each country, and donors receive a picture of the sponsored child and their kit. The charity is hosting a fundraiser breakfast in Toronto on April 29 at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel.

Learn more about Sleeping Children Around the World or make a donation or give a gift.

Read blog entries from SCAW's on-the-ground volunteers, get the latest news about fundraisers and events or visit their photo gallery to see bed kit distribution in action.

If you have any tips on B.C. residents' work in or for the developing world you can email them to eoconnor@theprovince.com.

The Other Dryden

As published in the Hamilton Spectator
April 11, 2009

Photo: Scott Gardner, the Hamilton Spectator

Meet the man behind the mask, the one who stopped Bobby Hull, lost to Gretzky and mentored the iconic Ken


Dave Dryden walked into the old Chicago Stadium, looked around and tried not to be intimidated, either by the enormity of the building or the situation he now found himself facing. Back in the days of the NHL's original six teams, the stadium was easily the league's largest rink, and this was about to become Dryden's new home as a goalie for the Chicago Blackhawks.

Somehow, in a matter of months, he had gone from teaching school and playing goal on the side for the Galt Hornets of the Ontario senior A league, to the Buffalo Bisons of the American Hockey League, to the biggest stage in hockey's big league.

It was September 1965, and training camp for the Blackhawks was going to start the following day.

"Back then, the guys never worked out in the summer," said Dryden. "You'd show up, get your skates sharpened, skate around, and the next day, you'd start your practices."

Dryden had been told to be at the rink by 10 a.m. to make sure his equipment fitted but, excited and eager, he was far too early. There was no one else in the dressing room.

He suited up in his new goalie gear and wandered out alone onto the Chicago Stadium ice, taking lap after lap on his own.

"The dressing rooms at the Chicago Stadium were downstairs, so you had to walk upstairs to go on the ice," Dryden recalled. "I could hear footsteps on the stairs."

It was Bobby Hull.

"So here I am on the ice, skating around all by myself with Bobby Hull," said Dryden. "We skated around and chatted, I don't know what about, and he said 'How about I take some shots on you?' I thought 'Hoo boy.'

Dryden said Hull "did 10 breakaways on me, and I beat him every time."

They headed back down to the dressing room and, by this time, about 15 more players had arrived.

"Bobby just said 'Guys, this is Dave Dryden, he just stoned me 10 out of 10 times and this guy is good,'" Dryden said.

"You never forget that. Bobby, he probably wouldn't remember that, but for me, that's something I'll always remember.

"It gave me every sense of confidence. I mean, there's no bloody way I should have made the team."

A door closes, a window opens. Right place at the right time. Call it what you want, it always seemed to work out that way for Dave Dryden throughout his hockey career.

You'd be excused for not knowing there were two Dryden brothers who played goaltender in the NHL.

Any Canadian hockey fan is familiar with younger brother Ken, the hall-of-famer for the Montreal Canadiens, member of Team Canada, which beat the Soviets in the 1972 Summit Series, and now a Liberal MP.

Fewer are familiar with his elder brother Dave, who knocked around the NHL and WHA from 1965 to 1979 with Chicago, Buffalo and Edmonton -- a career that started as an emergency replacement for Gump Worsley and ended with Wayne Gretzky as a teammate.

Fewer still would know that Dave Dryden is credited with changing the way the game is played.

"Dave completely revolutionized how a goaltender plays," Ken said from his office on Parliament Hill.

"That is something that should not be underestimated at all," he added. "People think of goaltending being transformed by Jacques Plante and Glenn Hall with the butterfly, but the third transformational figure in goaltending is my brother."

One was the teacher, literally, and one was the student.

One was the innovator, always tinkering, always asking why. The other would become an iconic figure, the calm, cerebral backstop of a hockey dynasty during the '70s, then a celebrated author and politician.

"I mean, who knows, way back when you're a kid, what motivates you, but I'm almost sure the reason I wanted to be a goalie and only be a goalie was because of Dave," said Ken. "Here's a kid who's six years older, doing all the things I wanted to do. He was a pitcher and a shortstop; I was a pitcher and a shortstop. He was a goalie; I was a goalie.

"It was hero worship," Ken added. "It wasn't rivalry.

"He didn't treat me as an annoyance. He never made me feel that way."

The Dryden brothers were born in Hamilton -- Dave in 1941 and Ken in 1947 -- and they lived on Haddon Avenue North, near McMaster University.

"A two-storey house with a coal bin in the basement," Dave recalled. "I remember the cupboards in the kitchen were big enough that if I took the pots and pans out, I could crawl in there and hide. It's funny the things you remember."

Goaltender was the only position that ever interested either of the Drydens. Dave's only game as a forward was a charity match after he retired. Ken played parts of three games out of the net until the end of his NHL career.

"For some reason, I loved to catch and loved to react to things," said Dave, who now lives in Oakville and is and chair of the Sleeping Children Around The World charity, an organization started by his parents, Murray, and Margaret.

"It was more fun to be on the defensive and stop somebody than to be out there on the offence all the time," Dave added.

A fluke injury pushed Dave Dryden into his first NHL game in 1962 while he was still a junior with the Toronto Marlboros.

It was one of those right place at the right time moments.

Back in those days, NHL teams carried only one goalie, so the Maple Leafs would pay one of their junior goalies from the Marlies $10 to sit in the stands in case either team needed a fill-in.

The New York Rangers had come to Maple Leaf Gardens, and just as the second period started, Ranger goalie Gump Worsley threw out his back. "They had to drag him off the ice, literally," Dave said.

Dryden was summoned from the stands, threw on Marlie equipment and Gump's sweater, and played the final two periods against his parent club. His first save was a breakaway by the Leafs' Dave Keon.

He let in three goals, including one with less than a minute to go, as the Rangers lost 4-1, but by all accounts, Dryden performed admirably.

"There are very few games I can remember, but I can remember almost everything of that game," Dryden said. "There was one shot that absolutely convinced me that there are instances when you know ahead of time what's going to happen."

With about three seconds to go in the second period, there was a faceoff to Dryden's left.

"As we started lining up, I knew that they were going to win the draw, that Bobby Nevin was going to get the puck and that Bobby was going to shoot low on my stick side," said Dryden. "I just knew it."

Years later, when Ken was president of the Maple Leafs, he went into the club's archives, found the footage from his brother's first game, had it transferred to a DVD and gave it to Dave as a Christmas present.

Watching it confirmed Dave's own memory of the game, and his premonition about that one play.

"They won the draw, it went back to Nevin, he took a shot that was going right in the very bottom right-hand corner, and I got my toe on it," said Dryden. "I remember going off the ice thinking 'I knew that was going to happen.'

"I don't know why, but I knew it before it happened."

Dave Dryden never set out to be an NHL goalie.

"Honestly, I didn't think I was cut out for it," he said. "I knew I was a pretty good goaltender, and I knew on the good nights, I could be a really good goaltender, but I just didn't have an image of myself as a professional goalie."

He was a teacher by age 20, playing goal for the Galt Hornets on the side and taking courses at the University of Waterloo.

In February 1965, Dryden's season with Galt came to a premature end when he developed pneumonia. Weeks later, however, he got an unexpected call from the Buffalo Bisons, Chicago's farm team in the AHL.

Bison goalie Eddie Chadwick was injured, and one of the Bison players, former Hamilton Red Wing Larry Ziliotto, had played with Dryden in Galt and recommended him as a replacement.

Dryden was called up for two weekend games, won both and recorded a shutout.

The Bisons' coach believed Dryden was the team's new good luck charm, so he'd call him up for weekend games -- the only time Dryden could play because of his teaching duties -- even after Buffalo's regular goalie returned from injury.

A door closes, a window opens.

"At the end of it, Chicago asked 'Do you want to come to training camp next year?'" Dryden recalled. "I said 'Well, I won't go unless I have a contract.'

"It had to be three times what I made as a teacher," Dryden said. "Which meant $10,000."

By the 1969-70 season, Dryden could see that his days were numbered in Chicago.

The Blackhawks had picked up Tony Esposito, and he was tearing the league apart in his first full year, recording an incredible 15 shutouts on his way to Rookie of the Year honours.

Dryden played a few games in the minors then decided to go back to Toronto to teach school.

But the NHL had expanded again and Dryden was picked up by the new Buffalo Sabres.

"I was totally rejuvenated," said Dryden. "Buffalo was my best place."

During the first season, the Sabres carried three goalies, and Dryden wasn't seeing much action so he asked coach Punch Imlach to send him to Buffalo's farm team in Salt Lake City to get some playing time.

While he was in the minors, he hurt his shoulder just before being called back to the NHL to join the Sabres for a road game in Minnesota in March 1971.

Sabres' coach Punch Imlach used to designate which goalie would be playing by walking around the dressing room before a game and kicking the leg pads of the starter.

Dryden wasn't expecting to play, then watched in horror as Imlach walked past veteran Roger Crozier and kicked Dryden's pads. He raced to the trainer and had him quickly apply some ointment to his ailing shoulder.

Dryden then went out and led the Sabres to a 5-0 win.

"I think I've still got the puck," Dryden said. "Forty-eight shots, and I get a shutout."

"I was right out of my mind. That changed my career, that one bloody game."

Shortly after, the Sabres traded away their third goalie.

Right place at the right time.

Dryden spent four seasons with the Sabres, with his workload increasing each year.

During the 1973-74 season, he appeared in 53 of Buffalo's 78 games and played in the NHL all-star game.

"Much to my embarrassment," Dryden cringed. "I was awful.

"There's a guy who owes me a truck, and that's Garry Unger," he added.

Unger scored three goals on Dryden during the game, and was rewarded with a new truck when he was named MVP of the all-star game.

"I always told him that truck was half mine," Dryden joked.

After the 1973-74 season ended, Imlach told Dryden he was probably going to be traded. Dryden decided to jump to the Chicago Cougars of the rival World Hockey Association, a team coached by Pat Stapleton, an old friend from their days together on the Blackhawks.

"I was actually looking forward to it," Dryden said. "The NHL, at the time I left, was the Broad Street Bullies.

"There was such a sense of gang intimidation on the ice all the time," he added. "That was the winning style, and you couldn't knock it, but a lot of guys really weren't comfortable with that.

"And you could certainly get more money going to the WHA."

One small problem, though. The Kaiser brothers, who owned the Cougars, were going bankrupt.

Early in the season, Dryden, Stapleton, teammate Ralph Backstrom and Stapleton's lawyer, ended up as co-owners of the Chicago franchise, backed financially by the league.

"We said 'Yeah, what the heck,'" Dryden recalled. "What was obvious right off the bat was that we were losing a lot of money. I think they lost over a million dollars while we were running the team.

"My credit card was maxed out," he said. "Some of the cheques that we were giving to the guys had bounced.

"You go to the airport and you've got 25 guys with you and they say 'Well, who's paying for the tickets?' and it's 'Oh God, here's the credit card, put it on my card.'"

The Cougars disbanded after the 1974-75 season, and Dryden ended up with the Edmonton Oilers.

Another door closes, another window opens.

"People said, 'You don't want to go to Edmonton-- that's the end of the world,'" Dryden said. "Well, it wasn't. It was a great place to go."

By the 1978-79 season, Dryden was making $125,000 a year. "That was good money," he added. "I was very happy."

In October 1978, Dryden became the answer to a trivia question -- he was the goalie who allowed Wayne Gretzky's first goal as a pro hockey player.

Gretzky was a skinny 17-year-old playing for the Indianapolis Racers when Dryden and the Oilers arrived in town early in the season.

Stapleton was now coaching the Racers, so Dryden called him up the night before the game and asked how things were going.

"He said, 'I've got this kid, Gretzky, on the team. He's a wonderful kid, but he hasn't scored a goal, and I don't know what to do with him,'" Dryden recalled.

The next night, Gretzky scored his first, a low backhander from far out that beat Dryden on the stick side. You can even watch it on YouTube, Dryden's told.

"I don't want to watch that friggin' thing," Dryden laughed.

Eight seconds after the first Gretzky goal, Dryden was also the goalie who allowed the Great One's second professional goal.

"I think the second one was through my legs," he admitted, sheepishly. "It was a dink-ass goal. I was so ticked afterwards."

A week later, Gretzky became Dryden's teammate when financial pressures forced Racers' flamboyant owner Nelson Skalbania to dump his teenaged phenom.

"When Wayne came to Edmonton, the first thing I said to him was, 'Hey kid, you're in this league because of me,'" Dryden joked.

Playing against him in practice, however, taught Dryden what made Gretzky special.

"If you had him just take shots on you, his shot wasn't great," said Dryden. "It was very average. But he had the ability to outwait just about anybody.

"As a goalie, I found the way to play against Wayne was to do nothing. So when he came in on you, you just waited and waited ...

"As soon as you made an anticipatory move, he'd go the other way. He had such a great ability to react to a situation.

"But the other thing was he just had so much confidence," Dryden explained. "Not boastful or arrogant, though. He'd come down the ice on the wing, shoot from 30 feet, and I'd stop it, and he'd say, 'Gee Dave, you're lucky. I should have scored on that.'

"And it was like, 'Wayne, give it a break, you shouldn't score one out of a 100 from there.' But he was so used to being successful that he just expected to be successful. The only other guy I've ever played against who was like that was Bobby Orr."

One of Dryden's other teammates in Edmonton was Steve Carlson, better known as one of the Hanson brothers in the movie Slap Shot.

"We went into Quebec City for one game, and at the end of the game, this guy comes in the dressing room door and it's Paul Newman," Dryden recalled. "Stevie took him around and introduced him to everybody."

Dryden was named the WHA's Most Valuable Player for the 1978-79 season, winning 41 of the 63 games he played in and allowing an impressive 2.89 goals per game. That made him the answer to another trivia question -- the last player to be named MVP of the WHA.

That summer, the Oilers and three other WHA teams were absorbed by the NHL when the league folded.

When the 1979-80 season started, Dryden was 38, and he knew his time was almost up. He wasn't playing well, and he was beginning to worry that he was hurting, not helping, the team.

In December, during a pregame skate in Denver, he went up to coach Glen Sather and simply told him he was retiring after that game.

"I just knew," Dryden said. "I always wanted to retire when I knew it was the time. I never regretted it."

Throughout his career, Dryden was constantly tinkering with his goaltender equipment. The great irony was that goalie gear weighed about 40 pounds in those days, and yet despite that bulky weight, it did a horrible job of protecting a goalie.

"Especially arm pads -- traditionally they were awful, like quilted nothing," said brother Ken. "And they just about did nothing.

"He decided to question everything about the nature of equipment," Ken added.

Why leather? Why deer hair in the pads? Why not nylon and foam and plastic?

"He would break down equipment, weigh each individual component and then ask himself if there was another material that could be used that was lighter that would be just as effective," Ken said.

"Goalie equipment is so much bigger than it was before," added Ken. "If there wasn't the change in materials, that 40 pounds of equipment would be 70 pounds of equipment now, and it would be unwearable.

"Now this equipment that is so much larger than before actually is also so much lighter."

But Dave Dryden's greater contribution was reinventing the goalie mask. The combination fibreglass shell and wire cage model he developed remains the standard for goaltenders today.

"The first masks that we wore didn't stop us from getting hurt -- they stopped us from getting cut," said Dave.

He used to make his own masks, so he took one of his old ones, cut a hole in the front, then began using solder wire to create different grid patterns that would maximize both visibility and protection. Once he found the right pattern, he had someone make the wire cage and attach it to the outer shell.

"You almost never see a goalie injured from being hit in the mask now," said Ken. "They'll do a little shake of the head, and then they're back into it."

The standup style of goaltending that was popular through the 1970s had almost nothing to do with playing the position effectively, Ken noted.

"It was a compromise for safety," he said. "It was a way of keeping your head above the bar, out of the way of just about every shot that would come in.

"It's allowed every goalie to change their style from standup to butterfly to deep butterfly to even the Dominik Hasek dimension because their face is no longer vulnerable," Ken said. "That has completely changed how people play goal.

"By far, the best style is to bring all of your body under the bar because with all of your body under the bar, you've got that much more of the net protected."

Better protection of the head and body, combined with lighter equipment, has revolutionized the way goaltenders play.

"We became like an octopus because what was important was the flexibility to get any part of your body in front of the puck," Dave said, "because no matter where you got hit, it wasn't going to hurt.

"As soon as a high level of fear was taken out of the game for the goalies, it just absolutely liberated them to do whatever they wanted."

"And that's all because of what Dave introduced," Ken added proudly.



Thursday, April 9, 2009

Oh brother, what a matchup!

As published in the Hamilton Specator
April 9, 2009

Brothers Dryden made NHL history


Thirty-eight years. Can it really be that long ago?

Has it really been 38 years since the Hamilton-born Dryden brothers made NHL history?

“It seems like it was another life,” Ken Dryden said, a touch wistfully, from his office on Parliament Hill.

Ken is now a Liberal MP while Dave, who lives in Oakville, is president and chairman of Sleeping Children Around the World, a charity started by their father, Murray Dryden.

“You feel almost as much a spectator to that as other people were a spectator to it,” Ken said.

It was March 20, 1971, a Saturday night at the Montreal Forum, when Ken and his older brother Dave became the first brothers to ever play goal against each other in an NHL game.

It was a historic occasion that very nearly didn’t come to pass.

Six nights earlier, Ken had just played his first NHL game ever. He had been called up from the Montreal Canadiens’ farm team and backstopped the Habs to a 5-1 win against the Penguins in Pittsburgh.

That same night in Minnesota, Dave went one better, kicking aside 48 shots and picking up a shutout as the Buffalo Sabres blasted the North Stars 5-0.

The Sabres were coached at the time by Punch Imlach, a man who enjoyed grand gestures.

Imlach was determined to see the two brothers square off in Montreal that Saturday night.

“Punch was the kind of guy who always wanted to make history,” said Dave. “I remember him telling me, ‘Dave, you’re starting tomorrow and I’m going to challenge them to see who they’re going to start.’ ”

But Montreal coach Al MacNeil had already decided that Rogie Vachon would start against Buffalo, with Ken on the bench.

“I remember getting a call from our dad on the Thursday and Dad saying ‘I think I’m going to come down for the game,’ ” Ken said. “I said, ‘Well, that’s fine but you might be disappointed because I’ve been told I’m not playing.’ But he still decided he was going to come.

“I was still just trying to fit in with the team,” he added. “Your focus is just on surviving.”

As coach of the visiting team, Imlach was required to submit his starting lineup first, and he marked Dave down as his goaltender.

But MacNeil stuck with his plan and put Vachon in net.

“Punch then comes to me and says ‘Dave, you’re out there to start but I’m going to replace you right off the bat because Ken’s not playing,’ ” Dave recalled.

“I’m sure I wasn’t there for much more than the national anthem,” Dave added. “I kidded him later and said ‘Punch, what was the problem? Wasn’t I standing straight enough?’ ”

The game started and, at the first whistle, Dave Dryden skated off the ice and he was replaced by Joe Daley in the Buffalo net. Now the two Dryden brothers were watching the game from opposite benches.

But, a couple of minutes into the second period, Vachon went down with an injury.

“Rogie’s a tough guy, he always bounces up, but he didn’t bounce up this time,” said Ken.
MacNeil had no choice but to put Ken into the game.

“As soon as Ken went in, Punch said ‘In you go, too,’ ” Dave said. “To him, the score would have meant nothing, it was just the fact that he had set out to have both of us play against each other.”

“There’s such an unreality to it,” Ken noted. “I don’t suspect Dave felt comfortable for the rest of the game. I know I didn’t.”

The final score was 5-2 for Montreal — not surprising, really, since the Canadiens were on their way to a Stanley Cup title while the Sabres were in their first year as an expansion franchise.

When the game ended, the two brothers skated to centre ice and shook hands, a ritual normally reserved for playoff games.

“We knew, I think, that no brothers had played against each other, but the crowd didn’t know at all,” said Dave.

“It’s interesting, we have a picture of Ken and I at the end of the game shaking hands and you can see the crowd in the background, and obviously the crowd wasn’t watching. There isn’t anyone’s face looking at us.”

“The best part was here was our Dad, who took a chance and came down, and he saw it,” added Ken.

The Drydens ended up playing against each other about four or five times over the course of their careers, and the standing agreement was they would always shake hands at centre ice after the game.

Dave always marvelled at his brother’s powers of concentration.

“One time, it was at the Forum, I remember skating out toward centre ice after the game and looking up to see Ken skating off the ice and me thinking ‘Hmm, that’s funny,’ ” said Dave. “I think it was Serge Savard giving Ken a whack on the pads and pointing out to centre ice and you could see Ken kind of going ‘Oh yeah, I forgot.’

“My reaction was ‘Holy frig, he’s got a powerful mind’ because I couldn’t block out the fact that it was Ken at the other end,” Dave said. “It wasn’t another goalie, it was my brother. It was always there.”

“It’s interesting that he said that because I thought it was the opposite,” responded Ken. “I could never forget he was down at the other end. I always felt ‘I cannot get into this game.’

“I was so distracted knowing he was at the other end,” Ken added. “I didn’t enjoy those games against Buffalo.”

For Ken, the rest of the 1970-71 season passed like a dream come true. He appeared in only six regular-season games for the Canadiens, won them all and allowed just nine goals.

With just six NHL games under his belt, he then started all 20 of Montreal’s playoff games, leading the Habs to the Stanley Cup championship.

Dryden was named the winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player in the playoffs, and he’d go on to win five more Stanley Cup titles.

“He was good,” brother Dave said simply. “I could watch a game analytically and it wasn’t that he was lucky.

“He’s worthy of all the accolades he gets.”



Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Just the way Dad did it

Click image to see larger version.

As published in the Hamilton Spectator
April 4, 2009

Photos and article by Steve Buist, The Hamilton Spectator

Former NHL goalie Dave Dryden works to keep his father's dream alive: supporting kids in developing countries so they can pursue their goals; 'THERE IS NOTHING more beautiful and peaceful than a sleeping child.' Those are the words of Murray Dryden, and they're the starting point for his charity.

Special Report

PUNE, India (Apr 4, 2009)

The lean, lanky frame is hunched over the camera. The man peers through the viewfinder. Then he straightens and yells "OK." Three skinny, shoeless children -- sitting ramrod straight on overturned plastic buckets, hands on knees just so -- break into shy grins and yell "OK" right back at him.

The shutter clicks. The man smiles. He gives the kids a thumbs-up.

"That was awesome," he tells the kids, and you can just tell he really means it.

Hour after hour in the broiling midday sun, the man stands patiently over his camera, snapping pictures of the endless parade of children.

Just the way his dad used to do it.

That part is key, you learn quickly.

It has to be the way Dad did it.

You look a little more closely at the man behind the camera.

That face, you think to yourself. There's a familiarity in his face that's instantly recognizable to a sports fan.

The last name is certainly unmistakable. He's a Dryden, that's for sure.

But no, despite the resemblance, the man leaning into the camera isn't Ken, the better-known Dryden, the nimble goalie-turned-celebrated-author-turned-Liberal MP.

It's older brother Dave, also a former NHL goalie -- lesser known, to be sure, yet with a hockey career just as interesting as that of his famous brother.

Born in Hamilton, Dave kicked around the NHL and WHA for 13 seasons during the '60s and '70s with Chicago, Buffalo and Edmonton, playing with and against hockey's all-time greats -- from Gordie Howe and Bobby Hull to Wayne Gretzky.

Now, here he stands, slowly baking in a dusty schoolyard in this dusty Indian village north of Pune -- where life has changed little from a century ago, maybe five centuries ago -- doing his part to keep alive the dream of his father, Murray.

In 1970, Murray Dryden created Sleeping Children Around The World, a Canadian charity that has developed an impeccable reputation built on Murray's rigid, old-school belief that every cent of every dollar donated must go directly to children.

Each $35 donation gives a child in a developing country a bedkit, consisting of items such as a bedroll, pillow, blanket, school uniform, shoes, school supplies, mosquito net and backpack.

The items are purchased from suppliers in the host country, so there's a spinoff benefit as well for the local economy.

Not a penny of donated money is spent on advertising or administration, and every person who makes a donation to Sleeping Children is sent a picture of the actual child who received a bedkit because of their generosity.

This year, Sleeping Children Around The World will distribute its one millionth bedkit since Murray handed out the first 50 at an orphanage in Pune 39 years ago.

In February, to celebrate the achievement, Dave Dryden and 12 members of the extended Dryden family went to Pune, where Sleeping Children got its start, to take part in a special bedkit distribution to honour the legacy of Murray, who died in 2004 at the age of 92.

It's 6 a.m., and the haunting sound of the Muslim call to prayer washes down on the neighbourhood from loudspeakers above.

I've already been awake for a couple of hours, staring at the ceiling.

My bed at the Pune YMCA is rock hard -- and the pillow is even harder, if that's possible.

The room is clean, if spartan, but the overpowering smell of mothballs is driving me crazy. They're everywhere -- in cupboards and drawers, scattered in the sink like gumballs.

Like all volunteers who take part in distributions with Sleeping Children Around The World, I've paid for this privilege out of my own pocket.

It's another one of Murray's rules. Not a cent of travel costs is picked up by the charity. That doesn't seem to be a deterrent, however. There's now a three-year waiting list for volunteers who want to hand out bedkits to waiting children.

"The harder we make it, the more volunteers we get," said Dave Dryden, who has taken over as the charity's president and chairman.

Donors to Sleeping Children receive a charitable tax receipt but travel costs for volunteers to go on a distribution are not eligible for a tax receipt.

"That was one of Dad's big things," Dryden said. "He didn't want to do anything on the back of government.

"After Dad passed away, I had about six or seven guys come up to me and say, 'Dave, you're going to change that now, aren't you?' And I said, 'No friggin' way.'"

That's about as strong as the language gets for Dryden, with maybe the occasional gusts up to "Oh jiggers" when he's riled.

He's a gentleman, a throwback to a time when performing fairly and honourably were as important to athletes as winning and losing.

Take his first NHL game, for example, back on Feb. 3, 1962, when he was still a junior with the Toronto Marlies.

Teams didn't carry backup goalies in those days, so the Toronto Maple Leafs would stick one of their junior goalies in the stands at Maple Leaf Gardens and he'd be available for either team to use in case of injury.

It was Dryden's turn that Saturday night when the New York Rangers came to town, and sure enough, doesn't Ranger goalie Gump Worsley go down with a bad back at the start of the second period.

Dryden is summoned from the stands, sprints to the Marlies dressing room, straps on his pads and squeezes into the Gumper's tiny jersey.

Then he heads onto the ice to do his best against the very team that held his NHL rights, with never a doubt that he'd be expected to give his all against his parent club.

It's such an archaic concept that it seems quaint now.

He got a hundred bucks from the Rangers, too, for his efforts. Then he learned that the $100 made him a pro in the eyes of the NCAA, so he was ineligible to pursue a hockey scholarship to an American university.

Dryden even told the NCAA he'd give the money back "but it didn't make any difference," he added. "They said, 'You played in the game and whether you took any money or not, you're done.'"

It's 7 a.m. and just turning light as we pile into three vehicles -- a baker's dozen of Dryden family members and me.

The air is still refreshingly cool but that won't last long. By midday, the temperature will be nudging 34 C. Seven days spent in India and I didn't see a single cloud the entire time I was there.

The dry season is in full swing and there won't be any significant rainfall now until the monsoons arrive in late June.

Five distributions have been set up over six days, all of them in small, remote villages north of Pune and to the east of Mumbai.

The destinations don't exactly roll off my tongue. We'll distribute 571 bedkits in Gunjalwadi Pathar, for example, another 622 in Modhalavadi, and 568 in Javalebaleshwar.

Our distribution days are long and exhausting. We're up at 6 a.m., then a quick breakfast before heading out at 7 a.m. for a drive that will take at least three hours.

After a day spent in the sun and heat, it's back into the cars for another three hours or more, arriving in darkness at the YMCA, sometimes as late as 8 p.m.

On this day, we're heading to Sarole Pathar, which lies north of Pune in the hardscrabble hills already burned gold by the unblinking sun.

Even though it's only 120 kilometres to Sarole Pathar, it's a journey that will take about three hours because of the chaotic state of Indian roadways.

The first 45 minutes or so are spent just trying to escape Pune, a city of nearly five million people, with another two million people living in the slums and crumbling buildings that crowd around the city's fringes.

The contrasts between extreme poverty and wealth are disturbing. Tiny shacks stitched together with corrugated sheet metal and tarps stand right beside a Mercedes-Benz dealership in a gleaming new glass building.

It takes only a few minutes in India to realize the enormity of the challenge facing charities such as Sleeping Children.

"The question we struggle with is how poor is poor?" Dryden said.

It's a question that gnaws at Indians themselves, like the members of the Rotary Club of Pune -- many of them well off by Indian standards -- who are helping with the distributions.

"There's a massive dichotomy in India between the well-to-do and the poor," said Nitin Shah, a dentist and a past president of the Pune Rotarians. He's using a week of his vacation time to assist the Sleeping Children team.

"The problem is that sometimes you're helpless," Shah said. "Whatever we do is a drop in the ocean. There are just so many people.

"They don't have basic amenities," he added. "They've never heard of plumbing. They don't have electricity half the time."

As we drive into the small village, a handful of young boys are playing cricket in a rocky field with a rubber ball, but they abandon their game and run behind us as our string of cars pulls up to the schoolyard.

This is a big day for the village of Sarole Pathar, and there's a festival-like atmosphere.

For some here, it will be the biggest event they'll witness in a lifetime. Many of those gathered are seeing people with white skin for the first time, Shah said.

More than a thousand people are already waiting for us as a procession of children banging drums and cymbals leads us into a courtyard at the school.

There is a clear separation between the men and women at each distribution.

The men stand or squat on one side of the courtyard, most in white shirts and the traditional white caps that are common in rural India.

On the other side of the courtyard, women sit together, crosslegged on the ground in brightly-coloured saris.

Some of the children attending this distribution left their homes at dawn and walked for a couple of hours over distances of up to nine kilometres.

In the courtyard, about 600 children are also sitting crosslegged on the ground, many of them shoeless.

They sit in straight lines, waiting patiently, some for hours at a time until their group gets called.

The children first put on their new school uniforms, then line up to have their pictures taken by Dryden.

Next, they get fitted with shoes -- for many, the prized possession of all the items in the kit. Finally, they receive a large bag of bedding and school supplies, a backpack and a ballcap. The littlest children have a difficult time just lifting the bag off the ground.

Then it's into the waiting arms of their parents, many of whom are wearing broad smiles.

On the front porch of one house, a family of four with a child who received a bedkit is resting in the shade.

A man who could speak a little English told me the family lived three kilometres away and they were preparing to walk home in the midday heat.

"Don't worry, they're strong," the interpreter said with a smile. "The strongest."

Visiting a village such as Sarole Pathar is like stepping back in time to a way of life not much different than what would have existed a couple of centuries ago.

There's no running water, no indoor plumbing, and women collect water from communal wells in jugs that they carry atop their head.

Some of the small houses have a cow or a goat tied up out front, and often, next to the house, cow dung has been pounded into circles and left to dry. The flat cakes are stacked and used as fuel for cooking fires.

There's not a single shop in the village, and the closest market is more than 10 kilometres away.

Many of the houses have enough electricity to power a couple of light bulbs, maybe even a television. But there are no refrigerators and food is stored dry.

A couple of doors down from the school lives eight-year-old Rahul Ghule, who has just received a bedkit.

Rahul's parents invite me into their home, which consists of one room, about the size of a master bedroom in a typical suburban Hamilton house. Four people live in the room: Rahul, his younger brother and his two parents.

There's one bed near the front door for the parents, while Rahul and his brother sleep on the hard-packed dirt floor. In one corner, there's a small pit where Rahul's mother cooks meals over a wood fire.

Like most men in the village, Rahul's father works in the fields as a farm labourer, but there's little work during the dry season, when nothing grows.

A wall that stands about shoulder high separates the Ghules' half of the house from a similar-sized room on the other side of the wall.

I walk up to the wall and look over it - Rahul's aunt, uncle and their family live in the other half of the house. Rahul's father and his uncle each own half of the house.

Each room has a separate front door, but other than that and the short wall down the middle, there's no other privacy between the two families.

"How old are Rahul's parents?" I ask. The young man acting as my impromptu interpreter relays the question.

They don't know how old they are, he tells me. Rahul's father is about 35 and his mother is about 30, they guess.

The interpreter also tells me that Rahul is very happy he received the kit.

Come to think of it, I realize, most of the people I've seen as I wandered through the villages seem happy. In fact, despite their lack of material possessions, they seem as happy -- maybe happier -- than many of the people I work with back home.

I'm not sure why I was surprised by that.

"We are a very satisfied lot," Nitin Shah tells me with a smile. "We tend to forget unhappiness fast."

"There is nothing more beautiful and peaceful than a sleeping child." Those are the words of Murray Dryden, and they're the starting point for his charity.

Murray was trying to survive as a travelling salesman during the Depression, eventually landing on Haddon Avenue North in Hamilton's west end, near McMaster University. Both Dave and Ken were born in Hamilton.

"He had a lot of nights sleeping on the floor in train stations," said Dave. "He knew how important it was to have a good night's sleep."

It's safe to say that Murray marched to the beat of a different drummer.

"I can remember as a kid, invariably kids want to do something and their parents say no, and you'd say, 'Well, everyone else is doing it,'" Ken said from his Parliament Hill office. "He had this response that you never had an answer for. He'd say, 'You don't want to be like everyone else, do you?'

"That was Dad."

When the family moved to Etobicoke, he paved the backyard so the boys and their friends had a place to play ball hockey. As a salesman, he pushed all sorts of wacky products, many of which eventually ended up littering the floor of the garage.

"You'd listen to him talk about these things and you'd think it was a greater invention than the Model T Ford," Ken said. "There were all kinds of these things where the ship never came in."

Murray also considered himself to be a good photographer. One night, he snapped a picture of daughter Judy while she was asleep, and he was struck by how peaceful she looked. He began to wonder if children around the world looked just as peaceful when they slept.

"Dad was a great traveller," Dave said. "Back in the days when people didn't travel around the world, Dad was doing it."

The story is that Murray was walking down a street one night in Lahore, Pakistan, when he tripped over something. He stooped down to pick it up and discovered it was a child, who ran away.

"He got so upset that when he came back to Canada, he thought, 'Every kid has to have a good night's sleep,'" Dave said.

And the idea of the bedkit was born.

"Then he thought if you're going to give a bedkit to a kid, why don't you confirm that to whoever gives the money by taking a picture of that child sleeping, because that will just show what a great thing a bedkit is," Dave said.

Murray eventually sold three Christmas tree farms he owned, donated the family home in Etobicoke to the charity and used the $3.8 million in proceeds to set up a trust fund that pays any expenses associated with Sleeping Children, including the salary of the charity's one and only office worker.

"Being able to have 100 per cent of their donations go to cause-related activities is admirable," said Marnie Grona, spokesperson for Imagine Canada, a national umbrella group that provides support for charities and nonprofit organizations. "They'd be one of the few in Canada to do that."

The first distribution of 50 bedkits took place on Aug. 17, 1970, at St. Crispin's orphanage in Pune, and Murray was determined to get a picture of each child sleeping.

The experience turned into a comical near-disaster, however.

The children were so excited that they couldn't sleep. For many of them, it was their first bed.

In one of his books, Murray described working in the wee hours of the morning trying to take pictures of each sleeping girl by oil lamps and flashlights, hampered by the heat and mosquitoes.

Soon after, he decided to just take pictures of the children with their bedkits.

In the early days, Murray did the distributions on his own, lugging his camera equipment halfway around the world.

When the charity grew to the point that he couldn't do it all himself, Murray insisted his rigid rules be followed.

"There had to be three kids in the picture, three bedkits in the picture, he's even got it that you have to stand 11 feet away when you're taking the picture," said Dave.

"You try to put local colour in the background," he added. "I mean, we've had donkeys, we've had cattle. You bring them in and set them in the background.

"Everybody in the organization in those days was terrified of coming home and showing Dad their pictures because he was so tough," Dave said with a chuckle.

"People would come back and get totally chewed out. Dad would grade the pictures, you know, A+ and a B-, that sort of stuff. But it was with the belief that this was the best way to validate to a donor that a child did get a bedkit."

There was one letter from a donor that confirmed for Murray the value of the children's pictures.

"Do you know what it is like to give for years never knowing for sure what your money is doing?" the letter said. "Then for the first time getting a picture to show you? I had to blink away the tears. Many, many thanks for taking the time to send me pictures."

Now it all makes sense.

Now you understand why the children must sit just so for their pictures, why the bedkit must be spread out just right, why the man at the camera agonizes over the photos despite the blazing sun.

"Hope for many who have none."

That's the motto of St. Crispin's orphanage in Pune, where more than 300 girls live permanently and another 400 arrive daily to attend school.

We pull into the parking lot and for Dave Dryden, the circle is complete.

Thirty-nine years ago, Sleeping Children started here with 50 bedkits, and now, Dryden is walking the halls of the orphanage for the first time.

Leading the Dryden family on a tour is Tichnor Charles, St. Crispin's CEO.

"Some are orphans, some are destitute," Charles says matter-of-factly as we walk past classrooms. "Their parents are in prison or HIV-positive."

There are six dorm rooms that each hold about 50 girls. There are no beds. The girls sleep on thick blankets spread on the hard floor. Each girl has one small scuffed suitcase to hold all of her worldly possessions, and the cases are stacked on shelves along one wall of the dormitory.

About 1,200 meals are made here each day, and the girls help with the preparation.

Those who go to school at St. Crispin's but don't board there also receive a meal, which in itself is an incentive for the girls to attend school.

"All these kids live in slums," said Charles. "Their parents probably live in a tin shed eight-by-eight or maybe 10-by-10."

Along with the original distribution in 1970, Sleeping Children returned to St. Crispin's to hand out kits in 1983 and 1995.

Today, there's a surprise waiting for Dryden in a third-floor reception area.

He doesn't know that the local Rotarians have gathered together about two dozen women who had received bedkits at the past St. Crispin's distributions.

One of the women is Delphine Lobow, now 43 years old. She received a kit in 1983 and still has one of the blankets.

Another is Mangla Babu Shaikh, 21, who received a kit in 1995 when she was eight years old. Originally from Mumbai, she was brought to St. Crispin's by people from her father's company after he died.

And there is Salbha Nikalje, who was eight years old when she received a kit in 1983. She ended up at St. Crispin's after both her parents died.

She eventually became a nurse and then a Christian evangelist.

Of the women gathered, the most poignant story belongs to Shashikala Dasar, now 57.

She was one of the original 50 girls in 1970 to receive a Sleeping Children bedkit.

She arrived at St. Crispin's in 1961. Her father had died and her mother wasn't able to take care of all her children.

In a touching twist, Dasar went on to become headmistress of the St. Crispin's school and her mother now lives with her in a house on the orphanage's property.

Thirty-nine years later, Dasar still remembers the day Murray Dryden arrived with his bedkits.

"It made us feel special," she tells me.

Murray understood that about Sleeping Children.

"He understood a few basic things," said his son, Ken. "People like to give. They like to feel good about themselves.

"The best way to feel like a giver is giving to a person," Ken added. "He knew that they wanted to see who they were giving to, they wanted to know exactly what went to that person, and they wanted to know that their money wasn't being eaten away little by little in other costs."

Dave's first distribution with Sleeping Children took place in India in 1994, a trip he remembers well.

"You'd look at children who were in such extreme poverty and think they must be sad and realize no, a kid's natural thing is to be happy," said Dave. "What makes me most emotional is the positive nature of the human spirit. Regardless of the conditions, it tends to bring out the best in people in most cases.

"I could really see Dad's point that it just isn't fair," Dave added. "I came back understanding why Dad got so passionate about it."

He also came back with questions and a need for answers.

"What about the bedkit?" he asked himself. "Is that our impression of what a child needs or is it what the child really needs? Is it the right thing that we are doing?"

Look, Dryden admitted, let's not kid ourselves. An impoverished country like India faces a wide range of problems -- hunger, disease, poverty, lack of clean water, environmental horrors of all types and sizes.

There is no one solution, and Sleeping Children Around The World doesn't pretend, or intend, to fix all of the problems by handing out bedkits.

In fact, Dryden said, he'd be delighted to share ideas with other charities that adopt different approaches to poverty.

Sleeping Children has embraced the bedkit as one small step forward, and Dryden has become a convert.

"I didn't think personally that bedkits would be the key," Dave admitted. "I'm coming more and more to believe that yeah, it does start with a good night's sleep.

"I'm becoming more and more of the belief that we are making an impact and that it's not just a paternalistic we-know-what's-best-for-you attitude."

Murray was a great storyteller, both Dave and Ken agree, and his travels with Sleeping Children provided many of the stories he told his family. He was 86 years old when he went on his final distribution trip to India.

"It was one of those great mutual experiences," said Ken. "Dad was great for Sleeping Children and Sleeping Children was great for Dad.

"He was a believer, he believed in whatever he did," Ken said. "He was a salesman and when you're a salesman you have to be a believer, and what he was selling was not only the best around but the best that ever was.

"With Sleeping Children, he found the purpose of his life after he retired," Ken added. "He never would have lived to 92 if it wasn't for Sleeping Children. He couldn't wait to get out to the next Kiwanis Club or Rotary Club or school to spread the word.

"It's a storyteller's charity."



The storyteller's charity

As published in the Hamilton Spectator
April 4, 2009

Photos and article by Steve Buist, The Hamilton Spectator

A bedkit, new clothing. Murray Dryden's legacy has touched the lives of nearly a million children

SAROLE PATHAR, India (Apr 4, 2009)

The sun beats down mercilessly in this dusty village, and the children file past in waves to have their pictures taken. That's one of the unbreakable rules with Sleeping Children Around The World, a Canadian charity run by former NHL goalie Dave Dryden that distributes bedkits to kids in developing countries.

Watch the Video
Tour a village in India

Each child who receives a bedkit is photographed and each donor gets a picture of the child that was supported.

Every picture tells a poignant story, but none more so than the group of 10 skinny, shoeless children that just passed in front of the camera.

All 10 of them are HIV-positive.

"Those are the ones that really tug on the heartstrings," Dryden tells me.

Seven, eight, nine years old, they live in this remote, forgotten part of India, without running water, indoor plumbing or easy -- if any -- access to health care.

"What are the prospects for those kids?" I ask him.

"It all comes down to the availability of the drugs. But you don't know," Dryden answers, his voice trailing off.

"You don't know."

At the very least, these children now have a better chance of getting a good night's sleep.

Is that important? Dave's father, Murray, thought so. That's why he founded the charity in 1970. He believed that a good night's sleep was the key to survival for the world's poorest children.

In Murray's words, "There is nothing more beautiful and peaceful than a sleeping child."

This year, Sleeping Children Around The World will hand out its one millionth bedkit since the charity was created.

Also from The Hamilton Spectator.

Sleeping Children Around the World

April 04, 2009
    Created in 1970 by Murray Dryden, father of NHL goalies Dave and Ken. Dave is now the president and chairman of the charity.
  • This year, Sleeping Children will distribute its millionth bedkit since the charity started.
  • Bedkits have been handed out in 33 countries. About 400,000 have been handed out in India alone. Service clubs in the host countries, such as Rotarians, assist with distributing the bedkits and identifying the children in need of them. Children must be between the ages of 6 and 12, attending school, and they cannot be homeless.
  • In the fiscal year ended Feb. 28, 2008, Sleeping Children received $2.8 million in donations and funded nearly 70,000 bedkits.
  • 100 per cent of donated money is spent on bedkits. Administrative expenses are paid by a trust fund set up by Murray Dryden.
  • For more information, contact Sleeping Children by phone toll-free at 1-866-321-1841, by email at info@scaw.org or visit the website at scaw.org.