A hot new candidate has surfaced to become the first Stanley Cup-winning goaltender other than Bernie Parent and Ken Dryden -- both retired over the summer -- since 1972: Montreal's ever-winnin' Canadiens have landed Denis Herron from Pittsburgh. Herron will compete with Bunny Larocque for No. 1 in the nets in place of Dryden. Herron, 27, has fine credentials as a five-year NHL regular, two with Kansas City and the last three with Pittsburgh, for whom he limited opponents to 3.37 goals a game in 56 outings last season. He should lower that with defensive helpers of Montreal's ilk . . .

The Capitals will announce the signing today of Dave Parro, giving them six goalies under contract; he's the one obtained in June from the Quebec Nordiques for winger Nelson Burton. But The Post's hockey reporter Bob Fachet reports no visible progress in wage negotiations with five dissatisfied Cap regulars -- and as yet, no luck in signing any of Washington's five picks in the Aug. 9 entry draft. The Caps are playing it tight, economically, and Fachet reckons Parro presumably came cheap "since he has already been tagged, along with Jim Bedard, for shipment to the Hershey farm" . . .

Repeating now that he has died without regaining consciousness, the Expo baseball fan who fell from the Olympic Stadium stands during the Montreal-Houston game Monday night, Michel Bergeron, was not hockey pro Bergeron but a part-time drummer . . .