Fans lined up Friday night in Toronto to meet Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price.
"Sweet Jesus!," was Carey Price's reaction to the picture of him from off our Habs Top 25 Under 25. The 24-year-old was a maybe a little stunned to see himself imaged in such as a way, as our Chris Boyle showed him the picture off his phone.
Chris and I both had the chance to catch up with the Habs netminder backstage at an autograph signing at AJSportsworld in Toronto Friday night. Despite running almost 20 minutes late, due to traffic in Toronto fueled by this week's TIFF event, Price was kind enough to answer a few questions from us, as well as the newest member of the EOTP team, Chris' son Patrick.
When asked' "Who's doing the interview?" I immediately volunteered Patrick to hop in the chair next to Price. I think he'll be talking about that at school and hockey practices for weeks to come.
As he worked his way through the table of photos and pucks to be signed, Price gave us a bit of insight into his summer. "I was doing rodeo every day, four hours a day, right up to the end of last week," he said with a grin, but don't think he was putting his off-season training regimen aside. "I trained in the morning and was roping at night."
"I was training with Josh," he said, acknowledging his close friend and fellow BC native, Josh Gorges and noting his friend's knee surgery is showing positive signs as training camp approaches, "He's doing really well, and he's looking good. My goalie coach came out and spent 10 days with me too"
"You can tell P.K., when you get to Montreal, that you outdrew him," a store rep joked, as close to 200 people patiently waited in line. Habs rearguard P.K. Subban had been at the same location just a couple weeks prior. Price is certainly a big draw in the heart of Leafs territory. Last April he did a private signing at the same location.
After a tough seven-game loss to the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins, Price said he and the rest of the team have to put that behind them and move forward to the upcoming season. That includes the series clinching goal that deflected off another player. "It doesn't matter how it got in, but it's over now."
At this time last year, Price was under the microscope, by fans and media alike, when the Canadiens made it clear that he was the franchise's number one goalie. The 2010-11 season saw him booed by the Bell Centre crowd during the pre-season opener, then praised with a Vezina worthy run that carried into the playoffs.
He'll certainly have the support of the fans and media as this season begins, but Price just treats each season the same. "I just roll with it," he said.
Price hasn't had a chance to talk to backup goalie Peter Budaj yet, but did note that Canadiens goaltending coach Pierre Groulx had visited him in Colorado.
Last season, Price started 70 regular season games. The feeling amongst many is that Habs coach Jacques Martin (the Big Man behind the bench as Price referred to him), will give him more time to rest between starts. "70 games, 82 games, it doesn't really matter to me," Price said.
Known for his array of goalie masks during the season, Price did confirm he is going over a few designs with renowned artist David Arrigo for this season. "We've come up with some pretty good ideas," Price said. it's still not known which manufacturer he'll be using for his equipment. Reebok is the rumored favourite.
Price now heads off to Montreal to take part in the Playground Poker Club's NHL Faceoff event. There he'll be joined by Subban, Gorges, Travis Moen and Habs alumni Steve Shutt, Guy Lafleur, Guy Carbonneau and Peter Mahovlich.
"It should be fun, as long as I take P.K.'s money," Price said.
More on Price:
Hardest shot in the NHL: Shea Weber. "The All-Star game lets you skate into your slap shot, that's where (Zdeno) Chara gets an advantage."
Personal best for hardest shot: "I don't know. They did it once at the open practice, but I had my pads on."
Most aggravating player in front of the crease: Tomas Holmstrom "Thankfully I don't have to worry about him any more."
Personal best for roping a calf: 4 seconds "The World Record is 3.3 seconds, I think."
The origin of the triple-low-five with Subban: "I don't really know, it just sorta happened. I think we did it in practice once, and it just stuck."
Patrick asked, "How much effort to you have to give to make it to the NHL?" Price: "All of it."
Patrick offered up his middle name as Roy. Price: "Shut up, no way".
Special thanks to LegendsDepot.com and AJSportsworld for letting us hang out with No. 31