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Monday, August 31, 2009

Return of the Price....Ataboy, Carey!

I just read an article, on tsn.ca, about Carey Price and I have to say that it put a smile on my face. There is nothing that makes me happier than to see/hear a professional athlete take his lumps like a man, and by reading this article, that is exactly what Carey did! Here take a look for yourselves:

http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=286872

Without getting into all of the details, the article talks about how Price had a meteoric rise to stardom with a great World Junior Championship and an even better AHL Championship. He followed both those performances up with a great rookie campaign, helping the Habs to 1st overall in the East. Since then, however, Price’s star has fallen a bit.

I have to admit, that after seeing him do a Patrick Roy-esque salute to the booing Montreal fans, I thought that maybe he wasn’t cracked up for the Montreal pressure cooker. Then, a day or so after the Habs were swept by the Bruins, seeing Price at the press conference with his hat so low on his brow that you could barely see his eyes, you could see what seemed to be an exasperated young boy who seemed frustrated and fed-up. I remember thinking that while I felt very bad for him, that if he couldn’t handle this kind of pressure then he would never workout in Montreal. I also remember thinking that this coming year (2009-2010 season) would be a defining one for Carey.

Why?

I’ll tell you why. Carey walked away from the spotlight, at the end of last season, as a beaten, exhausted and fed-up person who was supposed to be the jewel of the Montreal Canadiens prospects. I knew that if he was not able to adjust his attitude and/or recover mentally from the beating he took – and he did take a beating from the fans – then he would likely just not work out, long term, in Montreal. From me, that was a VERY sad thought because no matter how well Price did or didn’t play last year, he still remains a thoroughbred. This is a kid who has all the talent to become a star in this league. The only thing he needed, in my opinion, was to stabilize his mood/attitude. By that I mean the he needs to get back to the guy who never gets too high and never gets too low. He needs to find that guy that everyone called the ice man, cool as a cucumber and if he can then he has a shot at becoming a special player in this league.

The problem was that I was not sure if he would be able to do that, or not, and I feared that the fans and media in Montreal might just have broken the poor kid.

Before I go on, let me just say for the record that despite how poorly Price played for long stretches of last season, and he DID play very poorly at times, he was NOT the reason for us having such a disappointing season and playoffs. Our team just didn’t have it. Our D was weak. Our goal scoring was inconsistent. The injuries ravaged us. All of this meant too many turnovers, too many wholes, too much weak defensive zone coverage and not enough goals-for, all of which meant that our team was just not good enough. Price, being in the spotlight as the supposed savior of our team, took the brunt of the blame. The problem is that he just did not have an effective defensive staff in front of him – let’s hope that this year’s D plus Jacques Martin’s defense first style better insulate Carey – and he ended up with egg on his face.

Ok, ok, back to the story…

So ALL of this to say that the reason I wrote this entry is because in the article (link above) Carey sounds like a man transformed! Being interviewed at the Calgary Pro Goaltending Camp, Price sounds like he has grown from all of the tumult of last season. Saying that he has never been put in a situation that he can’t handle, and that he never backs down from a challenge and that he has learned more in the first two years than most do in the first 6.

Price sounds like he has learned from last year. He sounds like his old, confident, self. He sounds determined to show people what he can do. If there is one thing we should know about Price, by now, it is that he has the ability to get things done when he puts his mind to it. Remember that he was cut from the first World Junior Championship camp that he attended. At the time, the talk was about how he didn’t work hard enough and didn’t have the right attitude. Well, he came back the following year, adjustments made, and stole the show.

Only time will tell if Price is truly up for the challenge, but I have to say that my spidey-sense is tingling. Having lived the greatest season followed by the worst season, I think Price is ready to step up and become a force in the NHL for years to come.

For all of our sakes, let’s hope that I’m right!

K.

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