I remember Carey Price’s first game as a Hab. I did not watch it, but I remember Bob McKenzie saying that Price might have been the most important pick in the 2005 NHL Draft — more important than Sidney Crosby.
Of course, Price made his debut against Crosby. Of course Price won his first game because he is Carey Price, and that is what he does.
I remember his first shutout like it was yesterday. It was an afternoon game against the Philadelphia Flyers and I was watching in my parents’ family room. It was a close game and he pulled it out in the end.
I remember the season where it looked like Price would never fulfill his promise and all was lost. Of course, part of that was he played with a high ankle sprain, but it still looked bleak. Yet Bob Gainey’s faith in his goalie never wavered, and Price was able to vindicate his former GM for a decision that was highly controversial at the time.
In the hotbed of hockey, Price has risen above and made it impossible to not want to see what he can do. He is a machine in goal; efficient, not making any more movements than necessary.
He has gone through three goalie coaches: Rollie Melanson who tried to change his game too much, Pierre Groulx who had to reset him, and Stephane Waite who helped him rise to levels unknown. Price was a goalie put in an impossible situation, and was able to make it possible. From the cowboy themed masks of his early career to the Habs-centric masks of today, Price has been a constant since 2007.
Has there been a player who has impacted the Habs more than Price in recent memory? He has consistently been there for his teammates; standing on his head to make up for their errors on the ice, and standing up for them when needed off of it. In turn, they adored him even if they showed it in funny ways. He never complained, even when the going got tough.
He has won the Hart, the Ted Lindsay, and the Vezina in the same season due to his excellence. He has been remarkable.
From the lowest of lows when he did not play for about a month while Groulx worked to rebuild him as a goalie and a conditioning stint in the AHL, to his remarkable season two years ago, Price has been steady for the Habs for the past 10 years. Through the ups and downs, he has stayed.
Montreal is home. In so many ways, Price is the Habs. He is their most recognizable player and their spokesperson. He is the one who other players cite when they talk about the Habs.
This season has been rough on Price, but he has not thrown anyone under the bus. He will be able to reset this summer and come back stronger than before. He will only accumulate more games played in a Habs jersey as the years go on, cementing himself as one of the top players the stories franchise has ever seen.
From a start in the Igloo in Pittsburgh to the spotlight of the Olympics and everything in between, Carey Price has been a star that won’t stop shining.