Scotiabank Hockey Day in Canada
CBC Sports | NHL

Hockey DayDick Irvin selects his hockey heroes

Posted: Monday, February 6, 2012 | 10:56 AM

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Dick Irvin, one of hockeys greatest sports broadcasters (Dave Sandford/Getty Images) Dick Irvin, one of hockeys greatest sports broadcasters (Dave Sandford/Getty Images)

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Sports:  After watching the NHL through  8 decades,  you have seen as much if not more than anyone else. With the Scotiabank Hockey Day in Canada program themed on heroes this year, who do you think of when it comes to NHL heroes?

CBC Sports:  After watching the NHL through  8 decades,  you have seen as much if not more than anyone else. With the Scotiabank Hockey Day in Canada program themed on heroes this year, who do you think of when it comes to NHL heroes?


Dick Irvin
We are talking a lot today about heroes today on this show and I guess from a national hockey league players stand point you can't become any more of a hero than to have people say you were the person who was mainly responsible for your team winning the Stanley Cup

In my 33 years in the broadcast booth a lot of names come to mind that fit that category. I go back to Dave Keon and Bobby Orr and there was Bernie Parent and there was Guy Lafleur and Mark Messier and Bryan Trottier, and Wayne and Mario.

And when people ask me about this question and to be specific I really am not, I remember a year, 1971 the year the Montreal Canadiens weren't supposed to win the Stanley Cup.  The Bruins were the defenders, they finished 24 points ahead of Montreal in the regular season they were dominant. They played Montreal in the first round, won the first game and were leading 5-1 in the second period in the second game when the Canadiens came back to win it 7-5, one of their most famous playoff games of all.

Two players were the heroes in my recollection of that Stanley Cup win.  A veteran named Frank Mahavolich and a raw rookie named Ken Dryden.  The Canadiens had obtained Mahavolich in a trade with Detroit.  Once the playoffs began the Big M was magnificent, he led all goal scorers with 14 and all point getters with 27 and he was without a doubt the main presence on the ice for the Canadiens throughout the entire playoff year.

And then there was the raw rookie, Ken Dryden, who had played just 6 regular season games but who played 20 games, all 20 in the Stanley Cup playoffs.  You have to play a whole career, a lifetime to become a legend, Dryden's legend was made after those 20 games.

He stood tall against the likes of Phil Esposito,and  Bobby Orr, Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita.  His save off Jim Pappin in the final game in the Chicago stadium was maybe the most famous save he ever made throughout his long and successful NHL career.  

Mahavolich and Dryden, my choices as the heroes for that unexpected Stanley Cup win.

But think of this, eight players from that Montreal team were subsequently voted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, so maybe that upset of 1971 wasn't such an upset after all! 

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