Translated from Marc Antoin Godin's column at La Presse today.
In making Carey Price the backup goalie to Jaroslav Halak shortly after the Olympic break, the Canadiens did their former first round draft pick a big favour.
Price voluntarily admits that it was not easy to sit at the end of the bench. Despite that, he has just living through an enrichening experience.
The era of the spoon fed first rounder is now over, and Price now understands that he will have to battle it out to get what he seeks.
"When I was in Hamilton, playing for the Calder Cup, I had one goal in mind and that was getting to Montreal. I battled hard to achieve that."
"But once I attained my goal, I had the feeling that I'd reached a ceiling. And when you have that feeling, you become vulverable to be overtaken."
"I remember the All-Star Game. I was confident in my abilities, all was going well, but having settled at one plateau, others progressed. I've learned since then that I cannot sit on my laurels. I have to continue to push."
Two incidents invloving Price and teammates sum up the changes the young goalie has come through.
Last January, Andrei Markov took him to task following a loss against the St. Louis Blues. The two had an altercation in the dressing room after Markov questioned Price's work ethic and dedication.
Early this May, in the heat of the playoff battles, it was Price reaming out Sergei Kostitsyn for cutting corners.
"After the incident with Markie, I underwent a sort of mental inventory. Up until then I thought I had been working hard, but I realized I had to make a choice. I decided that if for any reason things were not going to work, that it wouldn't be for a lack of effort on my part. And, I wanted that to be as clear as possible to my teammates."
"Although I did not play much, I worked very hard during the last two months and I supported my teammates. It was one of the best decisions I ever made, because I can now head home this summer and be proud of that."
This personal growth would explain why, during his post season press conference, coach Jacques Martin mentioned that Price had earned the respect of his teammates.
"What makes Carey so good, is that he has such passion," Hal Gill explains. "What he has to do now is learn how to channel it."
Gill goes on to attest that "during the playoffs, he was so dedicated to the cause of the team, that it Pittsburgh, he was terribly upset at having to be seated away from the player's bench, on the opposite side of the rink."
"That says alot about him. He continuously encouraged Jaro, and was very engaged in how he did that," says Gill.
"In the past two months, Carey has become a man," affirmed another player on Monday.
Price has never been placed in the role of a backup goalie. It was a lesson in humility for him. So much so that on this day, this Carey Price is light years removed from the one who at this time last season sat at the season ending podium, wearing scowl as a disposition, behind a ball cap that hid his eyes.
"I spent my years from age 20 to 22 in Montreal, and I am excited at the idea of continuing," says Price. "But I still have lots of things to learn."