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The pressure of playing in Montreal

What does it really mean to play for the greatest NHL organization of all time?

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"What I find really interesting about him is he started in Montreal spectacularly. Then he flattened out and maybe went down a bit for awhile, and then has had to find his way back. If you can survive that in Montreal you're a pretty tough-minded person." - Former Montreal Canadiens netminder, Ken Dryden, on Carey Price

The Montreal Canadiens have the most decorated history of all NHL clubs. With 24 Stanley Cup championships and having employed some of the greatest athletes to have ever played the game, the Habs organization seems to demand greatness.

Maurice 'Rocket' Richard, Jean Beliveau, Bob Gainey, Saku Koivu - these are just a handful of names who have donned the 'C' for the CH over the past century. Each man brought with him something different to the table, but each possessed similar qualities which helped to make him an excellent leader, allowing him to stand up to the pressure that is the Montreal market.

The current Canadiens' roster consists of elite-level athletes who have the leadership qualities to back their talent. With veteran players like Andrei Markov and Tomas Plekanec, and young superstars like P.K. Subban and Max Pacioretty being named as the four alternate captains last season, it is hard to argue against the leadership core that the Habs currently possess. Add to the mix fan favourites like Brendan Gallagher and newly signed Jeff Petry, and it's safe to say that the Canadiens have built an impressive roster. While each athlete who wears the Canadiens crest may face the demand of greatness, I argue that no position feels the pressure of Montreal quite like the player standing between the posts.

Montreal fans are notoriously hard on their goaltenders. When you look back over the years and see some of the names who have protected the crease, it is easy to understand why Habs fans have such high expectations. Luckily for our generation, we have been blessed with the goaltending stylings of none other than Mr. Carey Price.

Price, 28 years old and hailing from Anahim Lake, British Columbia, had himself a season for the record books. Highest save percentage, lowest goals against average, tied for most shutouts - and all of this with a less-than-stellar team in front of him. A team that ranked 25th in scoring chances, was 23rd in the league on the power play, and had the sixth most shots against. Price amazed fans all season with his ability to remain so calm under this immense pressure.

When the Canadiens drafted Price fifth overall in 2005, many were skeptical that the youngster was worth a first-round pick. Price was awarded the starter position in 2008, following Cristobal Huet's trade. Price battled, but eventually lost those rights, to Jaroslav Halak following a tough playoff showing in 2009. Despite an up & down 2009-2010 season, the Canadiens re-signed Price over Halak in 2010 - a move that caused quite an uproar and bolstered disagreements among fans. The additional signing of goaltending coach, Stephane Waite, in 2013 really helped Price to improve his physical game, as well as his mental game, over the last two seasons. Since Price's start in the NHL, fans have been witness to a competent goaltender transform into the world's best.

During the 2013-2014 season, Price had a .927 SV% and 2.23 GAA, along with an Olympic gold medal. This past season, he boasted a .933 SV% and a 1.96 GAA, along with The Vezina Trophy, The Ted Lindsay Award, The Hart Memorial trophy, and co-ownership rights to The Jennings trophy. Price thanked his teammates during each acceptance speech, but it was his Ted Lindsay Award acceptance speech that helped to show just how grateful and level-headed this young star really is.

Carey Price may be the most mentally-sound goaltender I have ever watched. Sure, he gets frustrated and oftentimes will unnecessarily blame himself for his teammate's failings, but Price has stood up to, and responded to, the pressures of Montreal in ways that no one could have foreseen. Through his rocky start with the Habs and season-interrupting and season-ending injuries, Price has persevered.

When healthy, Carey Price is the Canadiens' most valuable asset. When injured, he has proven that he is still the team's backbone, becoming a rallying point for the team to forge ahead. While donning the 'C' for the CH carries with it plenty of responsibility, Carey Price arguably faces the most pressure in Montreal, and not only does he take it in stride, he continues to find ways to succeed.