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Steve Penney

Steve Penney's debut in the NHL was a Cinderella story almost like when Ken Dryden entered the league 13 years before him.

Like Dryden, Penney debuted with the Canadiens. He had been hauled up from Nova Scotia Voyageurs in the AHL, exactly in the same manner as Dryden. He played four out of the six last regular season games of the 1983-84 season, losing all four of them, including a 7-0 defeat to the NY Islanders.

So far no Cinderella story, but that would come next in the playoffs. Rick Wamsley and Richard Sevigny were the regular goalies in Montreal at that time. They had struggled all season long and when Wamsley went down with an injury coach Jacques Lemaire decided to play a hunch and give Penney a chance in the playoffs. It was a gamble that proved to be successful. Penney had been the 3rd goalie in Nova Scotia only weeks prior to the playoffs and now here he was suddenly the starting playoff goalie for the Montreal Canadiens.

His play in the playoffs was spectacular. First he led the Habs to a 3-0 series sweep over their arch rival Boston Bruins, including two road victories at the hostile Boston Gardens. Penney then pushed the Canadiens to a six game victory over the Quebec Nordiques, another other hated rival. Penney's magic would fall just short In the semifinals as the Canadiens lost to the defending champions NY Islanders in six games.

Penney was a sensation as the rookie led all playoff goalies with a fine 2.20 GAA. His 3 shutouts in the 15 games also led all goalies in the playoffs.

Canadiens management were hoping that they had a new Dryden on their hands and signed Steve to a three year one way contract. Steve was thrust into Montreal's number one goalie role starting in the 1984-85 season and played 54 games finishing with a respectable 3.08 GAA. He followed that up with a 3.27 GAA in 12 playoff games.

Much of the 1985-86 season was a write-off for Penney, as he suffered cartilage damage in his left knee and was not able to play most of the season. He was replaced by a prospect goalie by the name of Patrick Roy. That rookie would lead Montreal to a Cinderella Stanley Cup victory in 1986. Though Penney was a part of the team, his lack of games played in the regular season and his inability to play due to injury in the playoffs prevented him from getting his name on the Stanley Cup.

Unfortunately Penney, a Francophone born and raised in St. Foy, Quebec, was not the "next Ken Dryden." The Canadiens management accommodated Penney's trade request and moved him to Winnipeg for Brian Hayward on August 19, 1986. Steve only played a total of 15 games for Winnipeg and finished his career in the AHL for the Moncton Hawks during the 1987-88 season.

The pressure of being hailed as the new "Ken Dryden" was just too much for him. He never fully recovered from it and retired at the tender age of 27. He had played in 91 NHL regular season games, with a record of 35-38-12.

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