Meeting Carey Price: A fan story

Bruce Bennett

Carey Price was signing autographs and taking pictures at the Play4Life ball hockey tournament in Richmond, B.C. today, and I was there.

About a month ago, I wasn't wearing my glasses when a text came in from my little brother. It was just a photo. Of a poster. With Carey Price on it. I grabbed my glasses for a better look, and learned that Price was going to be in my neighbourhood (ish) on July 12! I texted my boyfriend, "Guess what we're doing July 12!!!!" And he responded, "Sorry, I have a meeting with Trevor Linden that day." Whatever, Canucks fan. The date got marked on my calendar with a big, fat red Sharpie.

This week, people asked me, as people do, what my plans were for the weekend. I knew that the ball hockey tournament began at 9 AM, so I let them know that I was lining up at 6 AM to go meet Carey Price on Saturday. I got the usual response that I get when I say stuff like, "I'm going to Montreal for the weekend to see a Habs/Bruins game," or, "I have to be at the game to watch the warmup!" which is kind of a quizzical shake of the head.

I looked up the event online just to make sure I had all the details straight. When I went to meet Guy Lafleur last October, I knew I had to buy tickets to an Abbotsford Heat game to get into the building to meet him. So I wanted to see what was going on this time. Um, it said all the tickets were sold out. And my blood froze. Kind of like the time I was in Montreal and too late for the morning tour of the Bell Centre. Like, "No, no, no, no, no ...." There was a "Contact the Organizer" button, so that's exactly what I did.

Paraphrasing: Um, WTF?????

Organizer: No, don't worry, tickets are sold out for the teams, no more can register. The general public can come, make a donation, and get a ticket. Then there will be a lottery to see who gets to meet Carey Price.

A lottery? WTF?????

A lottery. I never win anything. I started planning right away, do I camp out? Take a folding chair? I'm going to be first in the goddamned line!

I wrote the organizer again yesterday. And he is so nice, he wrote me back to tell me pretty much what time Carey was actually going to be there: 12:30 PM. So I got to sleep in a little bit.

By the way it was 8 million degrees here today. I couldn't wear my jersey because I would boil to death so then I had to decide what I was going to wear for my photo with Carey Price, because I WAS going to meet him. Just a summer top and shorts.

Google maps told me it would take 30 minutes to get from my house to Richmond. I checked off everything I needed from my list: Jersey for autographing, car key (take my house keys off the ring so they're not so cumbersome and I can just slip it in my pocket), iPhone, a photo he would hopefully sign, sunglasses. I left the house, clicked the doorknob locked, and left.

I turned on the navigator and Siri to lead me on my way. On my phone, Siri is a dude. He calmly instructed me out of my townhouse complex, and then was going to stop at the bank when I realized I had left my wallet at home! I pulled into a driveway and turned around, Siri recalibrating and, flustered, changing course. I proceeded to ignore all of his turns and instructions to his seemingly growing alarm, because of course I was heading back home and not to Richmond. I finally got back home and oh yes - I had left my house keys inside. The neighbours have a key, thank god. I was finally back on my way to Siri's utmost relief.

The whole way to Richmond, I cursed all the cars in front of me as I was convinced that that bunch of mofos were all headed in my direction to take my place in line to meet Carey. I was thrilled when most of them turned off for the airport.

Anyway, I got there and was informed that Carey had just arrived. Apparently he had checked in at the front table, and the girl called him back to get his hand stamped. He had to tell her he was Carey Price. This is both adorable and maddening.

I tracked down the organizer and introduced myself, and he told me to stay where I was because Carey was going to walk right past me, and I stayed put because my mama didn't raise no dummy. I stood there for about 30 minutes, checking my watch all the time and trying not to think about the possibility that my number wouldn't be drawn and the devastating disappointment that would be.

There was a commotion. A bearded figure in a t-shirt and cargo shorts, baseball cap and sunglasses on his head, emerged from a door in the hallway. Carey! He stood about 20 feet from me. The crowd behind me started to push me in. People were walking up to him, handing him things to autograph, and he did, wordlessly. What about the damned lottery? I realized I was going to get my chance.

Why wordlessly? Because no one was freaking talking to him. Who does that? He stood there, flanked by two security men (I believe) and was being handed jerseys and photos and was signing them with lightning speed. He's a quiet dude.

At one point though, as I was standing off to his side but very close to him and waiting for my chance, people were filing right past from behind me and getting in front of him. And do you know what he calmly said to one of them? "You see all those nice people waiting in line? Politely?" Manners!!! Yeah!!

So of course the one thing I wasn't going to do today was piss Carey off so I waited and waited and waited and let everyone who wanted to butt in. And I marvelled at the fact that NO ONE WAS SAYING ANYTHING TO HIM.

Andrew and I talked about how maybe I might try to get an interview with him or something. Since he was obviously going to make sure that everyone who was there got their autograph, lottery be damned, he was working fast so I knew I wouldn't get a lot of time.

It finally got to be my turn. Instead of just handing him my jersey, I stuck out my hand, and the following is my interview with Carey Price:

"CAREY (all caps because nerves made me much louder than I would have liked), I'm Veronica, I'm so pleased to meet you."

Carey: (kind of looks at me like oh - she's talking to me) (actually I don't really think he even said anything, he just shook my hand, Sharpie still in his fingers)

I give him my jersey and he starts to sign it on the 3.

Me: "How've you been, how's the knee?"

Carey: "Doing pretty good."

Me: "Can I get a picture?"

Carey: "Sure."

Me: (to the security guard) "Can you take it?"

Security guard: "No."

Me: "Okay, we're taking a selfie!"

I was so nervous, I didn't think to do it in landscape so as I made sure that in the upright position Carey's face was definitely in the photo as proof, all there is of me in what will probably be the only picture I ever get with Carey Price is what looks like part of a floating egg with eyebrows, eyes, nostrils and teeth.

Wheeeeee!

So I took my signed jersey, and thanked him again.

Carey: "You're welcome."

There's your interview, folks! I'm never washing my ears again.

It was perfect. I didn't even have to despair about my number getting drawn. And Carey eventually left the crowd so that he could make sure he got his photo taken with every ball hockey team there, then he shot some pucks, signed more autographs, and even though I had more things for him to sign, I didn't want to wait until he officially met people again and be greedy. Besides, there was a sign that said only one autograph per person. I hung around for a bit and decided to leave and be grateful I had my moment.

He's exactly as we see him in interviews and on 24CH. Soft-spoken, unassuming and a terrific diplomat.

I just met a gold medal winner. And, of course, future Stanley Cup champ.

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