Let us now praise Carey Price

Posted: February 23, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , ,

CareyPriceCanada

The sound you’re hearing is readers falling off chairs after reading that headline.

I know, I know, I have thrown a dart or two at Carey Price over the years (eds. note: A brick or 20 perhaps?) but I’m a big enough man to change my views in the face of the facts.

This week, Pricer finally proved that he is indeed The Man. Look there’s a certain consistency behind my switcheroo from hardcore Halakian (eds. note: Is that similar to being a Raelian?) to card-carrying member of the Stay-Calm-Carey-On brigade. I’ve been saying in this space for a couple of years – and anywhere else that I’ve been allowed to vent hockey rants – that Price had yet to prove himself at the NHL level, that he hadn’t won anything.

And he hadn’t. Until today. Now he’s Canada’s Gold-medal-winning goalie and no one is disputing the concept that he was a big part of that Canadian championship in Sochi, unlike Luongo in Vancouver who was hardly a major factor in nabbing gold. He shut-out the opposition in the last two games, not allowing either the U.S. or Sweden to get a single puck beyond him. He only let in three goals in five games.

Now granted he had a just unbelievable defense in front of him. But still. When he had to make the big saves, he made them. Almost every team he faced had quality chances on him – the Finns, for example, played in a defensive shell, but they still tested him.

Throughout, Price remained his cool self, never breaking a sweat. That’s why we affectionately call him The Chill Out Kid. Okay I used to call him that with less affection but now I really do mean it as a term of endearment. Remember the famous time he told all the journalists “to just chill out”? It was after a bad loss to the Bruins in an exhibition game a few years ago and with all the journos freaking out, he told everyone to just take a Valium (or words to those effect).

One of his team-mates – winning-goal-guy Jonathan Toews I think – was recalling the incident and he too was bringing it up to pay a compliment to Price. In other words, Price knows that in the pressure-cooker that is being the Habs goalie in Habs-crazed Montreal, you have to remain cool under all circumstances.

At the time, some of us thought that meant he wasn’t taking things seriously. But we were wrong. And this following line is killing me to write, but here goes. Bob Gainey was right. Price is a thoroughbred. Like a fellow hockey-dad said Saturday, Gainey saw something we didn’t. He knew Price had it in him. That he was the money goalie, not Halak.

The last thing you want is a goalie who’s too emotional. You need to be a bit detached. I’m reading Ken Dryden’s The Game, the best book ever written about hockey, and it’s written by a guy who spent every night of his Canadiens career making amazing saves – and standing aloof, observing what was going on around him. He was part of the team and apart from the team.

The great thing is that prior to this season, there were times when you sensed a lack of confidence in Price. He’d let in an easy goal, he’d sag and the whole team would sag. That’s because he’d never won anything in this league. His playoff record is terrible. And he’s yet to prove that he could be a great goaltender through an 82-game season.

But that’s all changing now. He’s been amazing almost every night this season and he’s the only reason the Habs are in such a good position in the East. And now he’s won Gold at the Olympics and posted those amazing stats.

He had two great quotes right after the 3-0 win over Sweden.

“This was a very cool life experience,” he said, in his usual way-not-excited-way-of-talking.

Then: “Canadian hockey players always find a way to get along.”

Like what a great quote, that last one. So Canadian. So Carey Price. Just matter-of-fact. No hyperbole. No gloating. Just the facts. An amazing bit of insight.

One more quote – “I can’t say enough about that team in front of me.”

And that’s where we get back to the real business of his day job as netminder for the Montreal Canadiens. Did you hear what he said Marc Bergevin? Did you see what he did in Sochi? He’s now The Man. He’s Canada’s goalie not just the Canadiens’ goalie. So as my pal Tony Russo tweeted Sunday morning – “You got an Olympic gold medal goalie. Back him up with the right players and you will win.”

You listening M. Bergevin? It’s clear now you have a goalie who can take Les Boys all the way. So give him something to work with.

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