The Price Careys a lot of Weight
By Launy "The" Schwartz
The Montreal Canadiens stunned the crowd at the 2005 NHL entry draft in Ottawa when they selected Anahim Lake, British Columbia native Carey Price.
As of September 2nd, 2010 - barring a trade - he will wear the iconic “CH” on his chest for at least two more years. Fortunately, I got the chance to talk with the six-foot-three netminder about the signing, and his development as a tender.
Now before we get started, here’s a quick reminder of where his raw talent got him. Price was an all-star with the WHL Tri-City Americans, and his junior ‘A’ success would translate all the way through his time as a Bulldog in Hamilton, where the team won the AHL Calder Cup… Lest we forget Price’s stellar play in 2006/07 World Junior Championships, and the gold medal he has to show for those efforts.
Then he arrived in the NHL.
The hardest city to please in the entire league.
At the beginning, it looked great. Price never seemed to get rattled. Perhaps the Canadiens found the right man to step out of the immortal shadow that still hung outside of the crease once occupied by number 33, Patrick Roy.
Now as you may have gotten to know your faithful writer, I make no bones about my allegiances. I’m a Habs fan - and a goalie.
So, it was easy to take a shine to Carey Price.
His technique was smooth. His attitude seemed right. And similar to most goalies, I liked his gear. If you are not a goalie, allow me to enlighten you with the stereotype function on my keyboard. Women love chocolate and talking gossip; goalies love gear and talking technique.
Then Price did his best impersonation of “Saint Patrick”, in the 2008/09 Stanley Cup playoffs, when the fans at the Bell Centre cheered his save, as the rival Bruins added a little extra bleu to the rouge et blanc.
Number 31 showed he was indeed human, and to this day the media, along with many fans won’t let him forget it either. As much as I may be a fan, I too felt a pang (no relation to Darren) in my stomach.
Despite how well he plays, teammates like Mike Cammalleri and Maxim Lapierre have publicly acknowledged that the team needs to play better in front of its keeper. Strange thing is, when I filled Carey in on those admissions, he showed great humility.
“Definitely it’s nice, you know. But, for me, personally, I’ve gotta play better. I’m not putting the onus on anybody else,” he tells me.
And he didn’t stop there.
“This is something I’m gonna have to do. We’re gonna have to do it as a team obviously. We’re all gonna have to play well in order to win, but, for me personally, I would like to play better.”
So was the media-at-large wrong in their assessment? I mean, they’re allowed to publically put the poor guy through the meat grinder, glove hand and all.
The 23-year-old tender explained that it only adds a bit of salt to the entrée he’s been served, and takes a second helping of the homemade humble pie Montreal serves to him.
Price’s goal is to keep improving. He feels that smooth technique he displays for the fans and media alike still has some grit in it.
During the off-season, Montreal’s number one goalie has been working hard with Canadiens goalie coach, Pierre Groulx, on the physical execution of his butterfly style, and constant repetition to remove the sand from his Vaughns.
I’d apologize for dropping a name brand on you, but Vaughn has been his equipment of choice for many years now. A trend that he says will not change for a long time either. Besides, once us nut jobs find a brand we like, we tend to stick to it.
Yet, through all of this conversation, I found it interesting that Carey was quick to point out his shortcomings, and his desire to keep improving.
Interestingly, his very words actually help put things in perspective:
“Age and experience. That’s something I’ve always said.”
Something a lot of people forget. With only 23 years of air in the lungs, and hockey in his heart, we too have to wait to see how he will continue to develop. Perhaps we’ll see what age and experience will add to the immense talent this young man already possesses.