Price already resembling Roy

MIKE ZEISBERGER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:34 AM ET

MONTREAL -- The moment Carey Price lifted up his arms in response to being mocked by the Bell Centre throng Wednesday, one wily press box wag could not contain his sarcasm.

"This is the only time in recent memory that Carey Price has actually resembled Patrick Roy," he quipped.

The inference was that, while Price's play in the Canadiens nets had nowhere near mirrored that of the former Habs legend, his gesture to the boo-birds was similar to the one Roy made on Dec. 2, 1995. On that night, Roy, having been razzed by the crowd for giving up nine goals, told Canadiens officials he would never play for them again.

Now, after listening to Price talk yesterday, maybe the kid knew all along that his actions would conjure up images of that unforgettable evening involving Roy 14 years earlier.

"To be honest, I used that particular gesture to remind the people that booing doesn't always help," Price said yesterday, not specifically referring to the Roy incident, but the insinuation was there.

"That's the biggest thing that comes into my mind when I think of somebody getting booed out of the rink," he said. "It doesn't always help, but I guess it could have gone in a different direction."

Price says he wants to remain a Montreal Canadien. That's fine. But if the heckling continues, there will come a day when the young goalie decides to follow Roy's trail out of town.

And the leather-lungs who constantly were on his case need only look in the mirror to see who is to blame.

No, Carey Price did not play well at times this season, including in the Habs' four-game elimination to the Boston Bruins.

And no, those party photos that circulated on the Internet that featured him with cigarettes and women didn't do his image any favours.

But remember: This is a 21-year-old kid, one who Roy, himself, feels is something special.

Asked by the French network RDS about the comparison between his actions and those of Price, Roy was not shy in offering his analysis.

"It was not the best gesture of my career," Roy said. "I regret it. But (Price's reaction) proves the young Canadiens players are not well supported (by the fans).

"You have to realize the future runs through Carey Price. If he has a good start to (next) season, the crowd will support him."

As the normally soft-spoken Price sat in front of about 70 media members yesterday, he flashed another trait made famous by Roy: A competitiveness and inner fire that exemplifies a will to win.

Grilled about possibly having regrets over the gesture to the fans, Price would not fully commit.

"Yeah, somewhat. They want to express themselves. I wanted to express myself.

"I think both parties were hurt in that altercation. Guys were out there playing hurt, doing everything they can, and (the fans) turn on us. That's hard to put up with.

"Since the world juniors and Calder Cup, I've had high expectations of myself. I want that. But sometimes I'm put on too high on a pedestal or get thrown under the bus too much."

He has a point. During the Habs' seven-game series victory over the Bruins 12 months ago, Price, then just a freshman, was peppered with questions concerning comparisons to Roy and Ken Dryden, goalies who led the Habs to Stanley Cups as rookies. On each occasion, Price tried to play down the hype.

"I am not Patrick Roy. I'm nowhere near that," he would say time after time.

Obviously, few listened.

And now, those same people who built him up want to tear him down.

This will be a volatile off-season in Habs Land. The team has 10 unrestricted free agents, including captain Saku Koivu, who said yesterday he likely will be gone if the team does not re-sign him by July 1.

At least Price brings hope for the future.

Just have some patience, people.


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