Behind the Scene of Carey Price’s Journey – Hal Gill Remembers the Booing

It’s March 31, 2010. The Montreal Canadiens just lost a 2-1 decision and Carey Price made 25 saves. When announced to the crowd at the Bell Centre as the game’s third star, a few fans started booing him. That’s the year when Price isn’t winning often and Jaroslav Halak was becoming the second coming of Jesus Christ in Montreal at the end of the season, carrying the team all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals.

After that game, then Canadiens’ defensemen Hal Gill was furious when meeting with reporters: “It’s about time people understand that they are not helping him. They are not helping the team.”

That’s until June 17, 2010, when Pierre Gauthier shocks almost everyone when trading Halak to the St. Louis Blues. The Canadiens had made their decision: Carey Price was the future of the organization. The follow pre-season, Price allows four goals on in shots against the Boston Bruins. Fans at the Bell Centre were just waiting to show their displeasure and poured their frustration on the young 23 year-old and it’s the next day that Price came out with his now famous “Chill out” quote.

Carey Price and Hal Gill

Habs’ defenseman Hal Gill came to Price’s rescue. As he had done the previous season, Gill, now analyst for the Nashville Predators’ games, was visibly upset.

“When Carey arrived in Montreal, he was very young. I went out with him. Whether it was him or P.K. Subban, everyone was buying them drinks, everyone was ‘taking care of them’ in town. Everyone knew him. And the next day, after buying him drinks all night, they criticized him for drinking. I found that to be unfair. He was a young man who had to grow through this.”

“Carey spent the summer working out more than ever. He completely quit drinking. He made huge sacrifices in order to become better. Then when he allowed a few goals, people started booing him. I lost it. I was furious towards the fans.”

“This young man had worked so hard to improve, everyone knew that in the dressing room. As soon as I spoke against the fans, I thought that I’d get booed and get traded. But it went well. I think that many respected the fact that I was defending a teammate.”

According to Gill, the two had since developed a tighter bond. They went out together after that famous pre-season game. Price admitted that he found the situation frustrating. The former Habs’ defender thinks that this event changed Price.

“Through it wall, he learned to be himself. Now more than ever, that’s what he’s doing. No matter the positive on negative comments, he can’t change who he is. He must do his own things. I have learned a lot about myself through that experience, and him as well, I think. He’s a good person, he does things his way, and the team respects that. I wish everyone in Montreal respect him for it too.”

Gill recalls the first time he saw Price, he was surprised by his imposing stature. Then, by his relaxed attitude.

“I thought that it was fascinating that such a ferocious competitor could be so calm at the same time. Being one of his defensemen was a privilege. He was calm and always in control. When he told you something, you knew that he was serious, but he didn’t have to yell. He was losing control from time to time by breaking his stick, but never towards his teammates.”

Finally, Gill knew all he had to know about Price when Halak took over the job of number one during the playoffs. Their post-season conversation is well known: Gill asked Price if he was looking forward to leaving. Price told him that he wanted to stay, that he wanted to be successful in Montreal.

“He went through a rough patch when Halak took over the job in the playoffs. You cannot be a better teammate than he was. He accepted his fate. He was excellent. It was a huge test for him. I loved seeing him get back up from it and I have the utmost respect for him.”

Price has now tied the great Jacques Plante with his all-time team leading 314th career win in a Habs’ uniform. With his next win, he will lead all goaltenders who have worn the Canadiens’ jersey. Eight years later, it’s impossible to doubt it, Price kept his word.

Translated from an amazing article in French by JF Tremblay in lapresse.ca, with their permission.

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Price Quote: Chill Out!

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It comes a time in everyone’s life when you look back and find defining moments where you can point to as turning points, key experiences or decisions which made you who you are, moulded you into what you have become today. Those moments will sometimes have negative effects on some people but many times, they served as major steps, compass points guiding someone to become the person that they have become. In some cases, it allows you to become the best in your profession…

If the Montreal Canadiens had listened to their fans, Carey Price would be playing elsewhere than in Montreal today. Can you imagine? Thankfully, Bob Gainey and Pierre Gauthier did what Marc Bergevin did last summer and made decisions based on what they believed was for the good of the team, and not to appease the team’s fans and media. Today, few are second-guessing what were then, very controversial decisions.

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Many had given up on Price

Carey Price was tagged by many fans as “Le Joyaux”, the one who was preferred to Cristobal Huet and later, to a hot Jaroslav Halak. Traditional media and particularly social media were looking for new ways to put him down, finding pictures and/or stories of him partying it out late at night, in a way wanting him to flop at the expenses of the above-mentioned two goaltenders battling for a spot on the team with him.

Management did everything in their power to support Price. They brought in his mother from Anaheim Lake, B.C. to help him at his apartment. They brought in his then girlfriend and now wife Angela, mother of his daughter, to help settle him down. When he took over the team, Bergevin half-jokingly said that he would do Price’s grocery shopping for him if he had to, so he could avoid Montreal’s scrutiny. And guess what? Whatever the issue was, it obviously wasn’t as permanent as fans wanted to believe. Price matured and has grown into the man, the goalkeeper that he is today. And those same fans, while they might not admit it publicly, are thankful for that.

History repeats itself

This past summer, many fans and media were up in arms about Marc Bergevin’s decision to trade P.K. Subban for what they said, was a “declining” Shea Weber, who was even described by the advanced analytics’ crowd as an “average” defenseman. As most Habs’ fans never really paid attention to him before, playing in the Western Conference for a non-relevant (to them) team in Nashville, they bought the Kool-Aid sold to them by those disgruntled people.

Yet, while admittedly Subban is younger and will (or should) have an impact for longer than Weber, no one in their right mind today would dare saying that this trade was a bad one for Montreal.

In 15 games and over 380 minutes of ice time (at the time of writing those lines), the rugged defenseman has been on the ice for only two goals against at even strength. Weber is amongst the league leaders in ice time per game (9th), in plus-minus (1st) and in powerplay goals (1st). Amongst defensemen, he ranks first in goals (6) and is second in points (12).

Enjoy the ride

The Canadiens are up to a 13-1-1 record, sitting comfortably in first place in the NHL after missing the playoffs last year. They are 10-0-0 at the Bell Centre and Price has not lost a game in over a year! Oh don’t worry, they won’t keep that pace all season long, there is no doubt about it. But fans should just enjoy the ride, cheer their team on while they are doing well.

Fans should just trust Bergevin and his management team, who are still looking at ways to improve the team in spite of their hot start. Whether they are fans of coach Michel Therrien or not, they should be able to recognise that he’s not doing as bad of a job as they claim that he is, that he acknowledged that his team isn’t perfect and his handling of the media is what’s needed in this market.

Fans and media should follow the recommendation from “Le Joyaux”and… Chill Out! Go Habs Go!