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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Ladies and Gentlemen: Carey Price

Price290wins

290. That’s the number of times the Montreal Canadiens have won a hockey game with Carey Price as their goaltender. 290 times, fans went home happy knowing that their favourite team won. 290 times, it was printed in the newspapers, posted online, said on television and on the radio, that the prestigious Montreal Canadiens came out of a game victorious… backed up by Carey Price. And if you are following the team, you will know that in many of those occasions, the win was because of the performances of their goaltender.

With that 3-0 win in Boston, Price became the second winningest goaltender in the franchise’s long history, passing none other than Patrick Roy, ironically with a 33 saves shutout. Next target: the legendary Jacques Plante who, not too long ago, sat comfortably in first place with his 314 wins. That’s only 24 more victories for Price and with the way the team is performing so far this season, and with the anticipated return of team captain Shea Weber, he could very well reach that plateau before the team starts their summer holidays.Price290

But it hasn’t always been easy for Price in Montreal. As a matter of fact, it isn’t easy as we speak. Not long ago, some fans and media personalities were wanting him and his lucrative contract out of town and they would have driven him to the airport. Thankfully, it’s not them making the decisions… as it wasn’t their decision to draft him to start with.

The Canadiens had Jose Theodore who was only a couple of years removed from winning the Vezina and Hart trophies. They also had Cristobal Huet, whom they had acquired from the LA Kings along with Radek Bonk, for Mathieu Garon. And they had Jaroslav Halak playing in Europe. And that’s where it got really dicey.

The Canadiens traded Theodore to Colorado in 2006, and Huet became Price’s first mentor on a NHL team – he always had Olaf Kolzig in the off-season – until Halak proved to be NHL ready as well, which led to Huet being traded to Washington. Ah, the old Price vs Halak debate, how we miss that (NOT). Fans and media were divided, as they are today with this whole Subban vs Weber debate. The Canadiens shocked the world (and the pro-Halak) when, in the summer of 2010, they made their goaltending choice — Carey Price stays and playoff hero Jaroslav Halak is off to the St. Louis Blues.

“We’re very comfortable with Carey Price. He has about 150 games even though he’s only 22. He has a few rounds of playoffs. He has a Calder Cup. He brings a lot to the table and we think he will be a very good goalie in the NHL.” ~ Canadiens General Manager Pierre Gauthier, June 17, 2010

Price, who was said to have the party switch a bit too easy, then received the help that he needed to get his off-ice issues on track with his physical abilities on ice. His mother came to reside with him for a while, until his then girlfriend – and now wife and mother of his daughter – Angela, moved in with him. And that’s when Price’s career took off as anticipated by the Gainey/Gauthier regime.

A dream season

The 2014-2015 season saw one of the most dominant season by a goaltender in NHL history. That year, Price not only dominated amongst goaltenders, he was the league’s best player, ahead of Sidney Crosby and company, and was recognized as such at the annual NHL Award ceremony. That year, Price finished with 44 wins (1st), 1,823 saves (4th), .933 Sv% (1st), 1.96 GAA (1st) and 9 shutouts (2nd). While he was already a NHL All-Star and known as one of the best goalies in the league, that season propulsed him as the best goaltender in the world.

To this date, in spite of some struggles with injuries and team performances, and in spite of criticism by some fans and members of the Montreal media, players in the NHL – the guys who have to face him day in, day out – still feel like he’s the best.

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Credit: NHLPA player poll 2017-18

Montreal fans have been spoiled with great goaltending over the years. From Plante to the great Ken Dryden, to Roy and now Price… people should support those great players, as they did last season. Price was quoted as saying that he needed that ovation after the toughest season of his career.

Awards

  • Molson Cup for Montreal Canadiens: 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017
  • NHL All-Star Game: 2009, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2017, 2018

2007

  • IIHF World U20 Championship Gold Medal (2007 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships)
  • Tournament MVP (2007 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships)
  • WHL West First All-Star Team for 2006–07 WHL season
  • Del Wilson Trophy (WHL Top Goaltender)
  • CHL Goaltender of the Year Award
  • Calder Cup with the Hamilton Bulldogs
  • Jack A. Butterfield Trophy (Calder Cup MVP)

2008

  • NHL Rookie of the Month, March 2008
  • NHL All-Rookie Team for 2007–08 NHL season

2009

  • NHL YoungStars Game at 2009 NHL All-Star Game

2014

  • Olympic Gold Medal in Men’s Hockey at 2014 Sochi Olympics
  • Best Goaltender at 2014 Sochi Olympics (voted by IIHF)

2015

  • William M. Jennings Trophy (fewest goals allowed), (shared with Corey Crawford of the Chicago Blackhawks)
  • Vezina Trophy (best goaltender)
  • Ted Lindsay Award (most valuable player, voted by NHL Players Association)
  • Hart Memorial Trophy (most valuable player, voted by Professional Hockey Writer’s Association)
  • NHL First All-Star Team (voted by Professional Hockey Writer’s Association)
  • Lou Marsh Trophy (Canada’s Top Athlete voted by a panel of journalists)
  • Lionel Conacher Award (selected by sports writers of the Canadian Press)
  • Hart Memorial Trophy (received in 2015 playing for the Montreal Canadiens)

2016

  • Indspire Award (Sports)
  • 2016 World Cup of Hockey Gold medal

And if you haven’t had a chance to see this interview on The National on CBC, it’s well worth the 15 minutes or so. If you’ve watched it, it’s worth re-watching. It not only speaks of the goaltender, but the man behind the mask with tough questions, and most sincere answers. Go Habs Go!