(Robert L Note: Photos are from Habs Inside Out, upon the unveilling of the new Carey Price mask.)
It's hard not to get caught up in the hype of a goalie having played all of one NHL game when the Canadiens have not had a prospect this bright in twenty years.
The commotion speaks for the Habs fan's thirst and desperation in hopes of a 25th Stanley Cup.
Habs fans are actually going way out on a limb to predict greatness and glory for Carey Price and the future hopes that ride along with it. The attention given to Price's every move and whim must perplex the non Habs fans to no end.
It's like this: Excuse us, hockey world, we've just never dealt win a 14 year Cup drought before!
It's not as though we are Leafs fans, preparing to hand a 40 year losing stench down to a third generation.
So we are getting carried away with Carey. Blame it on the fact that he has happened to live up to his billing as announced, been better than merely just good, and exceeded expectations to the point that his play has created the associated fanatacism and frenzy.
Can all this hype be considered illogical in light of what's been but one solid game?
Not when it is all about promise. Not when promise gets delivered at each successive step.
I've been guilty of riding on the Price bandwagon since he was named MVP at last year's World Juniors. I understood what it meant to take an unreknowned squad unfavored to win and backstopping it to a Gold Medal.
Watching that drama unfold, and taking note of how unflappable Price seemed, spoke large for his potential. I was convinced of his ability, reading stories about his youth and upbringing, and of the perceptions of the big picture between his ears.
Not only is this young man solid in goal, he's grounded between the temples as well.
So he wins at the WJC, and I start to thinking that he has the capacity to lift good teams to greatness. It is a trait I've witnessed beforehand with goaltenders who have the coolness of mind, the talent, and the presence to allow a team to focus forward. It's not easily explained.
You just know it when you see it, from having seen it before.
It is something goalies the likes of Dryden and Roy and Brodeur and Bernie Parent and Billy Smith and possibly Roberto Luongo have.
Analizing it might be science more complicated than explaining why some people can dance about architecture.
Whatever it is, Carey Price has it.
Many goalies have laid claim to being great at the WJC. Names such as Kidd, Potvin, Luongo, Fernandez, Legace, Pogge, Theodore, and others have helped sell pacemakers across the country, so I put that into perspective when placing Price amongst contenders and pretenders.
It's a positive launching pad to a promising career, was the most honest spin I could put on the WJC win at the time.
But then he did it again - on a less national stage, but at a higher level, and with even more dominance.
He guided the AHL Hamilton Bulldogs to a Calder Cup championship.
When I suggest the words "even more dominance", I wish to imply that it wasn't merely shutting down a team that faced him but once - it was winning a series where the opponant faced him in several consecutive games without being able to solve him.
Another championship, and another MVP award.
Accidental? I doubt it.
You can counter an argument based on the truth that teams win championships as opposed to merely just hot goalies winning it for their teams. Yes, that is the rule - but there are exceptions, and being a Habs fan you should not need to be educated in those instances. A common denominator would be that certain goalies enable certain teams to greatness.
Having watched Price yank the same rabbit from the hat twice in one calandar year defies coincidence. I am convinced he is the real deal.
I make no apologies for getting carried away with Carey.
Whilst many hockey sites, bloggers, and respected hockey writers opined that another NHL season would benefit Price's career progression most, I did not feel I was out there in proclaiming before it was official that Price was to begin the season in Montreal.
It was simple for me to state it - he had clearly dominated at the previous level given he'd faced the strongest of challenges.
Starting with his first NHL win yesterday, the media is all prepared to tag along with the trivial details that tie him into Hab greatness. Who could blame them in their search for headline copy?
As with Dryden and Roy, Price also won his first NHL game in Pittsburgh's Mellon / Igloo Arena.
Who knows for sure whether history begs foresight's destiny - but it's a cool coincidence.
Speaking of cool, one writer mentioned Price's calm demeanor in reference to Georges Vezina, the former Habs goalie and NHL legend who was nicknamed the Chicoutimi Cucumber.
If Price developes a habit of throwing up before games, knitting between periods, and a fear of flying, his Canadiens bred threadline will be complete.
Of course, this is getting completely ridiculous, even for the mecca of hockey to consider.
Watching Price in interviews after his first win assured me that he is something different.
Either he is oblivious to his own storyline or he is the best actor this side of Jack Nicholson.
In his evaluations, there always seems to be a great absense of "self". The commom theme seems to be the next step. Wins. Goals. Perspective.
During last seasons Calder Cup run, teammate Maxim Lapierre asked him a question. Price was two wins away from adding another championship to his resume when Max queried. Price was focused and concentrated after the second win that put the Bulldogs up 2 - 0 in games.
"So, you having any fun yet!", came Lapierre's question.
A silent smile crossed Price's face.
If the words "hype, pressure, maturity, destiny, dedication, readiness, and focus" are in the question, that may be all the answer you need!
Carry me away!