The latter may be closer to the truth than meets the eye. While the lockout that threatened this season kept many players off the ice, Price was in Tri-Cities, working out with his former Western Hockey League junior team, the Americans. While we can all assume that Carey's father, and Americans' assistant coach, Dan Price, kept a close eye on his son's work ethic, the workouts pale in comparison to the National Hockey League's workout regiment.
The groin injury sustained by Price (hidden by the team, but not to the fans) in the scrimmage at the Bell Centre on January 17th leads us to believe he was nowhere near the shape he was in going into the 2011-2012 season, where he gained 15 pounds of muscle and looked as limber as ever.
Many question why Price didn't choose to go the Europe and play with any number of teams who were interested in his services. Wouldn't he have been better served playing at a more competitive level than simply working out with a junior team? The skill may not be anywhere near that of the NHL, but it is certainly better than anything a junior team could offer.
That concerns the Canadiens, who will be monitoring Price's off-season workout regiment much more closely than the previous year, where the expiration of the NHL collective bargaining agreement restricted the interaction they could have with the players under contract to the organization.
This off-season will be telling as to the commitment to excellence Price has, and whether it falls within the expectations of the Montreal Canadiens. Marc Bergevin must assess his team and make many difficult but necessary decisions, including the plight of Tomas Kaberle, Tomas Plekanec and others.
At the end of it all, everything falls into Carey Price's lap once again. Can he be the consummate professional and deliver elite-level goaltending performances, or will he force the Habs to rethink the goaltending position?