Ken Dryden, saying "I love hockey," gave it up yesterday to return to the pursuit that originally brought him to Montreal nine years ago - law studies at McGill University.

Actually, the No. 1 goaltender on the No. 1 team in North America would have liked to go to the Soviet Union to play and study the game as executed and administered by the dominant force in world hockey competition. But, he said, after exhaustive consultation with Canadian and U.S.S.R. diplomatic authorities, "their (Soviet) policy decision was that it just couldn't turn out." The Ice Curtain?

So Dryden's playing days evidently are over before he turns 32 (next month), but with five Stanley Cup conquests in hand in eight years of NHL action with the Canadiens, a fistful of Vezina trophies and All-Star designations, he's done it all.

Dryden led a double life almost since he left Cornell a decade ago, dropping out of the NHL in 1973-74 to clerk for a Toronto law firm after helping Montreal to the 1972-73 championship; coming back in '74-75 and keying consecutive Cup winners '76 through '78. Then, slumping, booed and about to be benched in this spring's finals with the Rangers one up, Dryden saw fate step in to write some finish to his story:

Bunny Larocque (now to become chief guardian of the Hab nets) hurt in pregame warmup for Game 2. Dryden sent back into the breach and - voila! - four straight Montreal victories, that fourth straight Cup. What a way to go . . . CAPTION: Picture, Ken Dryden