Ken Dryden's No. 29 retired by Canadiens

The Montreal Canadiens retired Ken Dryden's No. 29 during a touching ceremony at the Bell Centre on Monday.

Ken Dryden was just 31 when he retired from the NHL in 1979. On Monday, the 59-year-old Hall of Fame netminder had his No. 29 retired by the Montreal Canadiens.

The Canadiens raised Dryden's sweater number to the rafters of the Bell Centre during a touching ceremony attended by former head coach Al MacNeil and fellow goaltenders Vladislav Tretiak and Dave Dryden.

"Your play and your life brought honour to the Canadiens, to the NHL, to Canada," Dave Dryden told his younger brother.

Dryden wore No. 29 for Montreal between 1971 and 1979, winning six Stanley Cups and five Vezina trophies as the NHL's premier goalie.

"If anybody has a visual image of me, it's standing, leaning on my stick, watching, waiting, not doing anything," Dryden told the capacity crowd of 21,273.

"That was pretty much what the 1970s was about. That, and a whole lot of Stanley Cups."

Dryden, now a Liberal MP, posted a 258-57-74 record with a 2.24 goals-against average and 40 shutouts in 347 NHL appearances, all for Montreal.

"Sometimes when you are lucky, you get really lucky and I got lucky — to be a member of the Montreal Canadiens," Dryden said. "You have given me a gift…a gift that will last a lifetime."

In the House of Commons on Monday, Liberal leader Stéphane Dion congratulated Dryden, who starred for Team Canada in the 1972 Summit Series against Russia's Central Red Army.

"He was the calm giant who stopped the formidable Soviet machine," Dion said. "And now the four-storey goaltender is guarding another net for Canada, that of our country's social conscience."

Instant NHL star

Dryden established himself quickly with the Canadiens, appearing in just six regular-season games before backstopping them to the 1971 Stanley Cup and earning the Conn Smythe Trophy as top playoff performer.

He later won the 1972 Calder Trophy as NHL rookie of the year followed by five Vezinas (1973, 1976-79) in just eight seasons.

Dryden sat the entire 1973-74 NHL campaign over a contract dispute, opting to complete his law articling with a Toronto firm.

When the Canadiens were bounced from the playoffs in the first round by the New York Rangers, they cut a deal with Dryden and went on to win four consecutive Stanley Cups before he abruptly retired in 1979.

"I trusted them, I think they trusted me," Dryden said of his teammates.

"If I made a save, they'd score — that was the bargain. And game after game, year after year, we kept it."

Dryden is the 12th player to have his number retired by the Canadiens.

The others are: Jacques Plante (1); Doug Harvey (2); Jean Beliveau (4); Bernie (Boom Boom) Geoffrion (5); Howie Morenz (7); Maurice (Rocket) Richard (9); Guy Lafleur (10); Yvan Cournoyer and Dickie Moore (12); Henri (Pocket Rocket) Richard (16); and Serge Savard (18).

With files from the Canadian Press