Dryden's No. 29 is to be raised to the Bell Centre ceiling in a ceremony before the Canadiens game against the Ottawa Senators Monday night.
"The greatest were the stars you saw when you were nine or 10 years old," Dryden said Sunday. "They looked like they could skate and shoot 100 miles per hour.
"The people with their names on the banners here like (Jacques) Plante and (Doug) Harvey were of a different dimension. You never connect yourself to that."
Now that he meets people who had stars of the 1970s, like himself, as their childhood heroes.
"I realize that maybe there is a connection to the guys of the 1950s and 1960s," he said.
The 30-minute ceremony is to begin at 7:30 p.m. ET, followed by a warm-up, so the puck is not expected to be dropped for game until at least 8:20 p.m.
Several Canadiens stars of the past and other guests, including former Soviet goaltender Vladislav Tretiak, are expected to join the ceremony.
The 59-year-old Dryden is to become the 12th player in Canadiens history to have his jersey retired and the second this season. Former defenceman and general manager Serge Savard's No. 18 was raised on Nov. 18.
Other retired numbers are No. 1 for Jacques Plante, No. 2 for Doug Harvey, No. 4 for Jean Beliveau, No. 5 for Bernard (Boom Boom) Geoffrion, No. 7 for Howie Morenz, No. 9 for Maurice (Rocket) Richard, No. 10 for Guy Lafleur, No. 12 for Dickie Moore and Yvan Cournoyer and No. 16 for Henri Richard.
The Canadiens plan to retire more numbers annually leading up to the club's 100th anniversary in 2009.
"It's very emotional in all kinds of ways," said Dryden, who watched the Canadiens' practice at the Bell Centre.
He learned that his number would go up in September, but said it has only sunk in for the past week or so.
"Realizing who's going to be here and working on my speech really brought it home," said Dryden, now a Liberal member of parliament for a Toronto riding. "These are things you anticipate, but you never know what it will be like until it happens."
Dryden joined the Canadiens late in the 1970-71 season and backstopped them to a Stanley Cup - then won the Calder Trophy as the NHL rookie of the year the following season.
The law school graduate played eight seasons for Montreal, winning the Vezina Trophy as top goaltender twice outright and sharing it three times with Michel Larocque. The Toronto native was a first-team all-star five times.
He was a key member of the Canadian team that earned a close win over Tretiak and the Soviets in the 1972 Summit Series.
After retiring as a player, he became an author, worked on government commissions and later became president of the Toronto Maple Leafs before turning to politics.