DAVID SHRIBMAN: A hockey great shares perspective with tennis legends | Opinion

Listen in moderation on the maximum storied nook in Canada, proper right here the place Atwater Avenue meets Saint-Catherine Street. Every hockey fan is aware of the intersection as soon as was once the website of the outdated Montreal Forum, the Wimbledon of the wintry weather recreation, 31 instances the website of the Stanley Cup Final, where the place for 44 years the house crew dressed underneath the phrases of the Canadian poet John McCrae: “To you from failing hands we throw the torch/Be yours to hold it high.”

Listen in moderation and it’s possible you’ll pay attention the echo of the thunderous cheers that greeted Canadiens stars from Maurice Richard to Patrick Roy — or possibly the profound silence that met the procession of 10,000 to view the casket, positioned lovingly on wood forums at middle ice in 1937, after the great Howie Morenz, the primary true NHL big name, died because of an harm in a brutal sport towards the Chicago Black Hawks.

Listen up, Roger Federer and Serena Williams, as you get ready to toss the torch of your carrying greatness, for the cheers are about to show to silence. As the roar of the gang fades, concentrate to the teachings of considered one of your predecessors in excellence. Listen to how Ken Dryden, who received six Stanley Cups in 9 seasons in function for the bleu, blanc et rouge of the liked house crew, perspectives retirement and got here to peace with lifestyles when the cheering stopped.

“Retiring from sports is a real retirement,” he instructed me the opposite day. “And that’s the surprising thing. You enter retirement at a younger age than everybody else does, but you feel the same effects. In my case, I was 31, and for Roger Federer and Serena Williams, in their 40s, you are moving on from something you have done all your life. And even as you have done other things, your sport has been at the center of what you do. And you’re very good. And there was always a place for you to be and a place for you to go.”

Dryden now could be 75. He has been retired from hockey for 4 a long time. He’s respected at Cornell University for being the center-piece of the final undefeated faculty hockey crew (29-0, in 1969-1970) and right here in Canada for being the profitable goaltender within the well-known Summit Series towards the Russians 50 years in the past, the topic of his 9th ebook, now the highest Canadian nonfiction bestseller. He’s served in Canada’s Parliament and is enshrined within the Hockey Hall of Fame.

He could be looked lately as a person for all seasons, however for 20 years he was once essentially a person for the hockey season, and the rink equipped him with that position to head.

“Then, just like the person who retires from an office job, up until that last Friday all of those things were true,” he persevered. “But Monday comes, and most of those things aren’t true anymore. You are moving to something that you’re less good at, and you know you are less good at it. And over time, although you don’t focus on it, you enjoy the fact that you were good at something and that people looked at you in a special way. Where does that come from now? What are you going to be good at — very good at?”

That is the query Federer and Williams face.

Dozens of athletes (Tony Romo, as an example) and coaches (Bill Cowher) face it by way of changing into broadcasters. Minor league pitcher Blake McFarland confronted it by way of changing into a sculptor. Pitcher Don Schwall, a 1961 Rookie of the Year with the Boston Red Sox, changed into a Pittsburgh funding specialist. (When I requested him why such a lot of athletes lose their fortunes, he mentioned, “Money talks. It says ‘goodbye.’”)

Dryden confronted it after dominating his recreation the way in which the 2 retiring tennis aces have. “He was impenetrable,” recalled Rusty Martin, who scored two objectives towards him for Dartmouth in shedding video games towards Cornell. “He gave you nothing to shoot at. He was quick, he was smart.” Eddie Johnston, the Montreal-born goalie and Pittsburgh Penguins trainer, referred to as Dryden “one of history’s greatest goalies” and added, “He had great perspective on life.”

Here is the perspective Dryden has about retirement from sports activities:

“It’s not the money you miss, it’s the specialness you miss. That’s the problem. You’re going on to another thing and whether you’re 31 or 65, you go through the same thing.”

The two retiring tennis avid gamers personified specialness.

“If he wasn’t the greatest tennis player in history in terms of grim statistics, he was certainly the greatest tennis presence of our lifetime,” Globe and Mail columnist Cathal Kelly mentioned of Federer. “He altered the way we think about tennis and, in turn, all sports.”

Williams could also be the best participant in relation to statistics, and she or he had the similar impact, plus this: As the bookend to Althea Gibson (11 Grand Slams in a occupation finishing a quarter-century prior to her successor was once born), Williams (23 Grand Slams) was once a pioneer as a Black lady in sports activities.

Retirement technically would possibly happen on a particular day, however the searing impact of it will come on any other day fully. At least it did for Dryden.

“The September after I retired, I studied for the bar and the Canadiens started training camp,” he mentioned. “That’s when it hit me. I was doing what I was doing — and I wasn’t doing what they were doing. In a way, that was the day I retired.”

So, you tennis champions acquainted with Centre Court the way in which Dryden was once acquainted with gazing his teammates at middle ice: Stand right here, on the website of the outdated Montreal Forum. Listen up right here, the place Dryden, an intruder from Toronto, changed into some of the Habs, the Canadiens’ nickname that could be a shortened model of “habitant,” the early French settlers in Quebec. Hear the silence from the swaying of the half-dozen Stanley Cup banners he helped give a contribution to the outdated rafters.

Stand right here, concentrate because the echoes ring, and believe the torch of tennis supremacy being tossed to Iga Swiatek, who at age 21 has 3 Grand Slams, and to Carlos Alcaraz, who at 19 already has one. For quickly you’ll leisure, in carrying’s Flanders Field.

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