Hockey Hall of Fame goaltender Ken Dryden is calling on others to respond quickly to abuse accusations after admitting he could've done more to help a male victim who reached out to him during his time as president of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
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In an interview with CBC Radio's Ontario Today, the former member of Parliament spoke about the dangers of doing nothing when he was faced with the issue of sexual abuse.
Dryden became president of the Leafs in June 1997, months after Martin Kruze brought the Maple Leaf Gardens sexual assault scandal to light by publicly announcing he was a victim of sexual abuse.
"There was a kind of uneasiness through the summer that this was there," Dryden said of the Maple Leafs organization. During that summer, Dryden received a letter from Kruze asking the Leafs to back a project he had in mind, but Dryden was unsure of how to address it.
"We had no idea what to do," Dryden told host Rita Celli. "I mean, you don't go into training for this."
The letter was turned over to lawyers dealing with the many allegations from other abuse survivors. That same year, Gordon Stuckless, a former usher at Maple Leaf Gardens, was convicted of sexually assaulting 24 boys between 1969 and 1988.
Kruze took his own life days after Stuckless was sentenced. Dryden explained how he was "stunned" and didn't know how to respond.
"I had no idea what I was going to say or do," he said.
"The question was, what do I do now? And the only thing I was pretty certain of was that I needed to go to the funeral."
Dryden got approval from a family member and attended the funeral on his own.
"I remember walking into the church and seeing all these people that I knew that they wanted nothing more than to punch me in the nose because I was representing the Toronto Maple Leafs," he said.
"I started to realize that … the first thing that people there, what they wanted was not to punch me in the nose ... the first thing that they wanted was for something a little bit good to come out of something very bad," Dryden explained.
"That's what they all desperately wanted."
And now, that's what Dryden wants for others — for people to act quickly when they become aware of these kinds of allegations.
He helped created Martin's Hope, a forum for people to bring awareness to cases of abuse, but Dryden said he still regrets not doing more earlier.
"I wish I had acted sooner."
Victims are encouraged to contact Findhelp by dialing 211 or the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General's victim support line at 1-800-579-2888 or 416-314-2447 in the Greater Toronto Area. Here are other ways to get help: