Price was right, critics wrong

MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:30 PM ET

COLLINGWOOD, ONT. - Some 365 days ago, on the eve of the Montreal Canadiens 2010-11 season opener against the Maple Leafs, Habs management types were being ripped by fans and media alike for trading away the popular Jaroslav Halak in favour of the younger Carey Price.

Obviously hockey’s most storied franchise had shipped out the wrong goalie, critics such as yours truly claimed at the time.

Now, upon further review, Price needs to be told one thing.

We were all wrong.

Indeed, instead of melting down under the pressure of the Bell Centre boos and the blistering barbs from the press, Price turned in an outstanding season, posting 38 victories, eight shutouts and a fine 2.35 goals-against average. His Habs then stretched the eventual Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins to Game 7 on their first-round playoff series before a Nathan Horton overtime goal spoiled the party.

A year later, Price admits he feels much more comfortable this time around as the Canadiens once again get set to kick off their season versus Toronto at the Air Canada Centre.

“This year there are a lot less doubts,” Price admitted on Wednesday. “It’s certainly made things easier by not having to worry about that other stuff.”

By “other stuff,” Price was referring to the goalie controversy with Halak.

Of course, it wasn’t the first time Price has dealt with “other stuff” in his time in Montreal. There were wild off-ice rumours. There were suggestions that his glove hand had suddenly slowed down. And there was his infamous mockery of the home fans during the 2009 playoffs when he reacted to Bronx cheers at the Bell Centre by doing his best Patrick Roy imitation, waving his arms in the air.

Carey Price says he has grown up since then. And so does his coach. Jacques Martin.

“I’ve been here for four years. That’s a long time for a 24 year old,” Price said. “Being in Montreal, it’s definitely felt longer.

“But it’s definitely helped me at the same time. You learn a lot more about life on and off the ice when you play in a hockey market. It’s helped my development.”

When Martin looks at Price, he sees a much more grown-up young man than he did a couple of years ago.

“Carey has really matured the past two years,” Martin said. “He was outstanding last year. And we expect him to continue to get better.”

Price, a native of B.C., admits watching the Bruins skating around Vancouver’s Rogers Arena hoisting the Stanley Cup back in June. Didn’t it bug him knowing how close his Habs had come to eliminating those same Bruins in the first round?

“Not really,” he said. “We didn’t win.”

A very mature outlook from a more mature Carey Price.

mike.zeisberger@sunmedia.ca


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