Getting to the Heart of the Carey Price Perceptions

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A story making the rounds just after the Olympic break had Habs goaltender Carey Price informing a few close teammates that come the summer of 2010 he would no longer be a Montreal Canadien. The tale, whispered to, and told by the often unreliable Rejean Tremblay of La Presse, indeed had legs, in that other Canadien players later confirmed that Price spoke of strong suspicions he would be dealt.

All this, of course, came well before Price's return to good citizenry among his teammates and prior to the ascendence of playoff hero Jaroslav Halak, which then makes the latter's trading, in hindsight, all the more puzzling.

Were Price's feelings simply vibes, or was there a stronger current. 

It may matter little today, but one side of things not often theorized is that Halak was traded because of a higher return.

Price may know something of this, but will never tell. But it does beg the question that if he indeed was informed that he would be moving in the off season, and then was not dealt because his currency had dropped, how will that play in his psyche and his confidence.

Everyone loves a goalie with something to prove, but in this instance, we are speaking of a goalie who has been put through the grinder a time or two and is now in many eyes, being handed the number one role a second time, with nowhere near unaminous support behind him.

One thing in all this is certain, and that is that the Canadiens have faith in Price, otherwise a move so suicidal in the eyes of others is unthinkable.

Some fans and media may feel Price has unjustifiably been annointed the starter's job for a second time, but that is casting aside all that Price is, all that he's accomplished by age 22, and all the potential yet unrealized.

The critiques have a certain merit, in terms of comparisions to Halak, who truly compromised Price's Montreal existence the past two seasons. But often fans get swept up in surface comparables, negating the team effect and its influence on situations. What often occurs in Montreal, is that one goalie is placed detrimentally against the other, almost as though a loser is required to be found and judged. Habs fans eating their young, is hardly a new phenomenon.

Much of the wrath directed at Price, has also been directed at former GM Gainey for sticking with him. What many miss out on, is that Gainey might be well the perfect guy to judge whether a young goalie had the goods or not. Aside from Ed Belfour of the Dallas Stars in 1999, Gainey has known four goalies fitting similar career templates to Price and Halak.

Gainey joined the Canadiens in 1974, when they were backstopped by Ken Dryden, former overnight sensation, seemingly. The studious Gainey surely scoped the studious Dryden, who psyche wise, if you've ever read "The Game", was as fragile as cornflakes at times.

Between Dryden and Patrick Roy, Gainey played in front of journeyman the likes of Bunny Larocque, Denis Herron, Rick Wamsley and Richard Sevigny, who all, at different times, where made to look regular season fabulous by a strong Habs D corps.

Steve Penney, in 1984, was similar to Dryden, in that his element of surprise primed a hopeless team. That is of course, before his bottom fell out, unlike Dryden.

Then came Roy, who after a shaky regular season in 1985-86, displayed unexpected playoff veteran savvy in the clinch. A money goalie in the purest of terms, Roy also had his ditches and detours, but we remember the vintage wine, forgetting the cheese.

A few years after his playing career ended, Gainey found himself behind the Minnesota North Stars bench, placing his hopes that his defensive system could fortify the unheralded Jon Casey, who lead Minny to the 1991 Cup finals.

The half dozen or so goalies mentioned above comprise perhaps only half of the goalies Gainey has played with, coached or managed, but what Gainey has learned from them, eludes every onlooker.

It's not any similarity Gainey may see that aligns Dryden and Roy with Price, as we've mistook it ourselves in grand comparison. It is hardly that Penney, Casey and Halak have taken Gainey's teams some of the way, and not all.

It may or may not add up, that surprise elements wore off in all cases, but only in some was the magic recoverable.

Strength of team, of course, messes with all possible comparison and analysis.

What Gainey has taken from all these goalies, is that he has known them, not simply watching them in games or on TV as all us mortal stiffs have.

Gainey has lived by them, alonside them. He's known everything from their breakfast habits to how they spring back or don't after losses. He's known their fitness regimen, or how often they tilt elbows in bars. He's known their wives and girlfriends, kids and parents, while we dream of getting them to sign our hockey cards, pretending we know all about them. Gainey, and / or any and all members of an organization, know their personel acutely, way more than they can let on.

And he's known all of this better than we fans can ever dream of knowing.

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As per Carey Price, it has often been rendered that the team has not properly groomed him professionally to exist in the city of Montreal, allowing him to live in certain ways, eat what he wishes and do what he damn well pleases.

Who knows if that's really and truly how it is. Maybe it isn't. Maybe Price has been tutored in every possible way and maybe he hasn't. Maybe he's refused good advice. Perhaps he's thought himself above it.

In the city of speculation, be wary of those who proclaim to know the truth.

There is an old adage, ironic and moronic - but very true, that history belongs to the most recent historian. Think about that for a minute, while perhaps reminiscing about one of your own moments of personal, embarrassing infamy.

Photos of Carey Price being a regular guy, having a drink, a smoke, jovially hamming it up, and posed with females, have been littered about the internet for a few seasons now.

By all exaggerated accounts, Price is a drunk, a two pack a day smoker who does not take his career seriously, and a womanizer.

If you have believed any of this, you are an idiot - point blank.

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For a good time now, I've had readers sending in photos of Price of the ice, asking me to post them on site. The pics fit into the categories mentioned above, but the senders can never substantiate where they come from. My reply is always the same. "I want to publish these, because?"

The Price connundrum is nothing more than success and accolade coming to him too fast, well before true and lasting accomplishment. His rise was earned in part, but may have happened too fast. Keep in mind he is 22 years old.

Getting back to you now, put yourself in this guy's place. I had a friend who was a choir boy in church. He never smoked as a teen, never did as an adult. Drugs and alcohol were of no interest to him, and he never, ever swore. Clean cut as can be, he's an air traffic controller today. He has six kids.

As a kid himself back in the late 1970's, he was a shy sort, and he took a job as soon as he was able to work one. He was from a family whose parents had divorced, and at age fourteen, worked as a night store clerk to help his mother make ends meet. One time, he was called in for a Sunday midnight shift, staying up over 24 hours, and going to school Monday morning. Long story short, the kid's bladder, and his shyness I suppose, caused him to pee his pants by second class.

To this day, more than thirty years later, he's still known to many around here as "Piss Pants". The unfortunate incident happened to him exactly once, no pictures were taken of it, and there surely was no internet in the day or Facebook photos to commemorate the incident. Nevermind that he was an honour student, a tech whiz, with decent good looks, it is his moment of infamy that precedes him for many who recall him

Generally, that is a sad comment on folks who tend to think a certain way.

Today, give a rumour internet legs, and people no longer have the ability to decipher truth from speculation. It is as though common sense has been numbed and rendered cripple by the sensationalists who seek your attention for themselves.

The tons of gossip and rumour about Price off ice have never been substantialized. There have been incidences documented that have strains of truth, where teammates comments give credence to the story, and that is another thing altogether. The Markov incident, for example.

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In Montreal, we all know, there is pressure to perform, and a pressure to win. The Canadiens glorious history condemns players to that fate. But with that, there must a pressure valve for players to have some release.

With pictures of himself all over the internet, should Carey Price be condemned into a hermit's life, because God forbit a newer photo of him simply existing off ice hit the web?

There is only so much adversity, lies, rumours and criticism one human being can handle. That explains the Price mock crowd salute of the 2009 playoffs. Price let every fan know that his heart and soul had been poisoned enough, after being placed on the trap door pedastal that is fame and stardom in Montreal.

Everyone, fans to media, need to cut this kid a yard of slack, and apply a sensible dose of understanding and compassion to his situation.

If Carey Price was your own son, would you constantly criticize him in the hope that he succeeds?

No?

Well, remember that he is playing for your favorite team, and that cheering him on, supporting him, and possibly trying to understand him a bit, just might make him better.

Do you, yourself, always rise up stronger, after repeated beatings down?

No matter what you do to put bread on the table, imagine for a second that you did it with millions watching, scrutinizing and judging your every move.

How would you perform?

Fans whose jocks are still knotted over the Halak trade, need to get over it. He might not be your preference, but Price is now the Canadiens goalie for the forseeable future. If it bugs you still, delve into the understanding of the NHL cap system and immerse yourself into a knowledge of true team concepts.

Still annoyed, place yourself in Carey Price's shoes, long and hard, and gain a semblance of what it must feel to be him on bad nights, and good ones.

If you are still baffled and depressed, consider how much less you know about hockey from having lived it, compared to Gainey and Pierre Gauthier.

Still believe you know more?

Of course you do. That is why 15 NHL teams are ringing your cell phone as you read this.

Carey Price - you loved him until he let you down, as he loved Montreal hockey until the fans let him down.

Give the kid a break, or join those hoping he fails in order to justify your senseless, media based, speculation based opinions.

Continuing, at this point, to give Price a rough ride, is akin to shooting yourself in the foot, not to mention your team's hopes.

Montreal fans should allow Price the space he needs to move forward and grow as a number one goalie.

Is there a sounder, more logical alternative?

Price has learned tons in the past three seasons, and is moving forward with the experiences.

So should everyone else.

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