The Curious Case Of Carey Price

Throw away the stat sheet for just a second.  It has been plenty well documented that Carey Price is in the midst of a dismal season and that he has been performing well below average.  There has not been a grand, radical shift in goaltending standards and such with the introduction of the slimmer, sleeker equipment; by and large, the same names and faces bear the same sort of results and reputation.  This has nothing to do with that.


This has something to do with the alteration between Carey Price’s ears.  (No, not his newborn crying in the middle of the night and disrupting his sleep.)


How much did everyone love a fiery Carey Price throwing hands at Kyle Palmieri? How much did everyone love Carey Price staring down the much maligned Michel Therrien and his folly friends? Answer: the same number of people that either discounted or despised what such behavior was symptomatic of.  Yes, Carey was completely right to do both of those things and he would be right to do much more and far worse.


That was the crack in the dam, though.  That was what indicated the turn from a couple bad games to a string of season long dismay.  Though it has progressed now in stages, it has only rolled on from there.  The only remotely fun part (anger) is long since over and the final stage (acceptance) is creeping dangerously closer.


Carey Price is making young Carey Price mistakes and then some.  Some goals that have gone by him he looked to have no chance on, others have left spectators scratching their heads and a number now have been flat out dismal; the answer to each of the three types being “2014-15 Carey would have had that.”  No, Carey should not be expected to be at his 2014-15 level all the time/every day but he should be expected to be better than being well below average and –at this current point in time– one of the worst goaltenders in the entire league.


The million dollar question is: what caused this?


No one truly knows the details but we can ballpark the symptoms.  First of all, this is not an isolated occurrence.  These things are not born of a single event.  These transpiring events are all part of a long, drawn out story that would one day be told by ESPN’s 30 For 30.  Kyle Palmieri and the likes of the San Jose Sharks did not cause this overnight.  An individual in Carey Price’s position can only withstand so much and certainly he has heard more of the mantra than most anyone else will ever know.  Remember the “no excuses” sign? Carey Price remembers.  Carey Price also remembers the window in which he would naturally be promised immediate help.  This team can score all the goals they want to –in the season long picture– but if it’s too little too late, the promises of help being on the way may only come with jobs on the line, windows nearly closed and beyond the point at which Carey Price can truly recover.


Remember the acquisition of Thomas Vanek? Carey Price remembers.  Carey Price also remembers how –with good reason– he was released to the free agency come July 1st that year.  Carey Price also remembers how it was not until Alexander Radulov came about that said hole was, to the late need addressing Marc Bergevin’s credit, not only filled but exceeded.  Carey Price also remembers how this team is at a point wherein Tomas Plekanec is so far from being a second line center that so few remember to criticize him because they fail to notice a single thing that he does for the reason of him being so invisible.  Carey Price also remembers how Marc Bergevin traded P.K. Subban and how much greater his workload has since become as a result of the move.


The problem comes from the top down.  Everyone is looking at you, Marc Bergevin and Michel Therrien.


 …including Carey Price
 (Photo: Montreal Gazette)


The Montreal Canadiens are going forwards in reverse.  If one should need a moment to think about that one, by all means, take it.


A few basic physical tells in post-game interviews will showcase Carey Price’s mental state; the most prevalent in his case would be facial tension, followed closely by pupil dilation.  Nothing he says is the least bit convincing.  He is speaking scared.  Carey may be a publicly soft spoken leader but he has been far from a leader since December onward.  Is it understandable that Carey has met his limits and that, as a result, he may not humanly recover this season… dare to say at all? Of course it is.


…It does not mean that it is becoming of a leader, though.


Just to name a few: a leader does not lose track of the puck against the Coyotes and stop playing, leading to a goal against.  A leader does not lose his footing, go for a swim beside the net and lead to a goal against that would further cement there being no comeback in a building that the Canadiens had owned for half a decade.  A leader does not allow himself –in his prime age years– to fall from making the most perceptively impossible saves in recorded history to leaving somewhere between most and all spectators at all levels more and more frequently this season saying “Carey should have had that one” and bordering on the point of “Carey cost this team the game.”


Misfortunes happen to everyone regardless of skill and stature at some point along the way but this rate is alarming to the point of near impossibility.  Being a leader means saying “I’m willing to win more games for you than you could ever win for me” or “I’m righting this ship during our contendership window and I’m not gonna let it close just yet.”


The summary of the story that is Carey Price in 2017 is that this is what happens to a world elite talent, a modern day Michael Jordan, when the decision makers fail to make the right decisions.  Marc Bergevin and Michel Therrien have long since been given enough rope to hang themselves with.  The problem now is that Geoff Molson has given them so much rope that –even with their respective nooses around their neck– their feet are still touching the ground.


Carey Price could come back from this and the bye week may just be exactly what the doctor ordered, no less right on time… but what if this season should find no fortunes? Can anyone trust that the correct decisions will be made within the following 365 days? Can anyone buy into what comes next, including Carey Price? The unfortunate assumption is that nothing changes, nothing fruitful comes from this but one final question does: can Carey Price come back from this while he is still a Montreal Canadien?


Photo: Steven Irwin, SNI Authentic


The ship can be righted but judgment day is now.


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2 Responses to The Curious Case Of Carey Price

  1. My god give the man a break …he’s an outstanding goalie with many kids that look up to him because of his poise and disposition.

    Lisa February 13, 2017 at 1:50 pm Reply
  2. First off…Sean…one hell of a smart article on our beloved Carey Price. A real get you thinking piece.

    44 games -> mid November to mid February but as you alluded to the damage started seasons ago.

    I used to think all problems started and ended with Mikey Therrien. He does create more than his fair share of problems but the real architect is Mr Inactivity Marc Bergevin. Yes the downward finger pointer himself has created this version of Dante’s Inferno. I really thought his background in Chicago with Tallon and then the Bowman’s would point him in the right direction for our franchise. But almost from Day 1 he climbed down the ladder instead of up by hiring his good ole boy friend Therrien to join him in MTL. Therrien was smart enough to know that not one other team in the NHL or AHL would agree to him coaching their teams. So the safety line Bergevin threw him was to be grabbed enthusiastically. When MB came on board the team needed in the worst way a #1 Centre so in FA we got Brandon Prust in a huge overpayment. He followed that up with what seemed like a crusade to sign every offensively challenged 4th liner to the team. He still didn’t nab the top centre we needed so he did two things. First he drafted a gifted junior centre known as Gally27 and promptly let him play almost exclusively as a left winger for the first 3 2/3rds seasons. He finally got his chance when DD got injured late last season. He flourished and ended up with 30 goals last year. He looked destined to pass that number of goals until his season was derailed in Dec. vs LA. He returned too early and reinjured the same knee. Since he’s been back Therrien has totally misused him by even slotting him back at LW. But back to the so called genius MB. His second stroke bordering on temporary insanity was to sign the team’s Hobbit(DD) to a multi year contract extension. The team has been paying for that mistake for 4 yrs now. Of course DD is the boy toy for MT. This allowed MT to give DD lots of undeserving ice ahead of better players with less than nominal return. This was not the #1 centre we were looking for. Nor was Pleks or Mr. Invisible as he’s known in the playoffs and for the last two season’s. Last year he managed not one but two goalless streaks in excess of 20 games but still managed top TOI 5on5 plus PP/PK. Not bad. After a good start last year MB instead of waiting till the end of the season to review his contract like he does for everyone not named: DD, Emelin and now Pleks. Three of the worst contracts Bergevin has put his name to. Other players like Subban, Eller and Gally27 all got chiseled in the off season and yes he traded the first two guys on that list….is Gally27 the next to go? Ok to be fair he did sign Gally11 in season and that kid has worked his tail off everyday to properly earn it.
    As you know Bergevin is a certified hypocrite. Yes the famous “No Excuses” season that he’s still trying to have it retracted. Having the owner do an end around him to sign Subban frosted his balls. There was no way that loud mouth/crowd favourite Subban was going to get the best of him. So days before the No Trade status locked in he dealt him away for Weber. MB had to get some cheap shots in so he rubbed it in that Subban couldn’t clear the front of the net for Price and wasn’t leadership material like HS new star was. Have you seen Weber play lately? It’s like he’s trying to win the Lady Byng trophy for softest player. It’s been months since I’ve seen him play nasty and really rub someone out. As for clearing the net for the goalie…..sorry he’s not meeting that expectation either. Leadership, another Mea Culpa I’m afraid.
    Last season when Price went down in NY it was an oh shit moment for Bergevin. The freezing up started immediately. Did he go out and get another experienced goalie to take over? A simple No will do. So he let the rookie suffer through it. Did MT revise his system to give the young goalie more protection? Sadly, no he left him in the fire all alone. By mid January the press and yours truly were calling for the head of Therrien. But he resisted and gave all the coaches a reprieve to season’s end but then pointed at the players that they needed to play better. Such leadership?? The season ended badly for the HABS. But in his post season presser Bergevin stated that all the coaches would be retained. He said it wouldn’t be fair to deep six Therrien because he didn’t have Price there to save his ass( ok the last few words there were speculation). He then pointed again at the players and stated the season was on them for their poor play.
    So something had to change. Capt Max was really a captain with Subban around so they fixed that and acquired Weber. Still on a leadership cult thing he traded Lars Eller another player totally misused/disrespected by Therrien and received some draft picks that he pooled to trade for another leadership devotee in Andrew Shaw. So on your scorecard that’s one less penalty killer and one more guy that spends a lot of time in the box….don’t forget to add in the Leadership. So all this maturity and adding steadfast guys would show everyone Marc Bergevin was King of the French World. With the 14-1-1 start Bergevin did what most Bears do at that time of the year and went to sleep because tops we’d only lose maybe 3-4 more games all season. So now he’s woke up and last week he spoke to 3 players to test the temperature in the dressing room while taping the players comments and then met with Therrien to review the recording. MTs only lament was that he wished Bergevin would have talked to Gally27 so he could punish him and put him on LW on the 4th line. So the dust has settled.
    Tonight’s post game presserThertien used “rebound” twice. The inflection that the players have put the team in this position and they need to bounce back with better efforts as only 2 guys on the team are really trying out there – Max and Radulove. So welcome back Gally11 but you didn’t work your ass off enough tonite to impress MT. I personally thought it was great seeing you in the middle of things again. But what’s up with this Goalie thing?? First you take a bad one off the blocker with Weber and tonight you made a huge save with your chest protector on Petry. I’m guessing your lining up to make a glove save on Markov when we play the Jets on Saturday.
    So as you have noticed that there is an English word that both Bergevin and Therrien have had a lot of difficulty with so I’ll sound it out for you: A-ccount-A-bility. Yes that is rough in translation but in French it comes out as: the players fault again, blame them! A slight difference so you can understand why they both steer away from the English version at every opportunity in fact.
    That brings us to the mystery of Carey Price. Not really a mystery when you think about it. Basically it comes down to this. He’s tired. No not the baby crying in the night stuff……totally different thing. He’s tired of all the shit that goes on at the Bell Centre. He’s tired of playing for 5 yrs and basically just about every game he has to win it by himself over and over again. He’s tired of seeing what was supposed to be an elite team in the best league in the world not being able to get the puck out of their end without icing it or turning it over and over. He’s tired of watching down the ice as his team chips it in and fails to recover it and before you know it it’s as mad as a hornets nest with pucks flying at him, bodies too. Being run over by players and nothing done by the league or his team about it. Tired of watching this team get a lead of 1-0 at 12:46 of the 1st period and proceed to sit on it for the rest of the game. He tired of seeing situations develop again and again yet his coach does nothing but ignore it. He’s tired of all the times Bergevin told him he’d make the team unbeatable when he signed a big FA or two say like Briere or Parenteau or any of the other losers he wasted money on. Or those trades that would bring us a big frontline centre and scoring winger like say Mitchell and Flynn. Or tired of seeing the young kids coming up and bring misused, healthy scratched and sent back down broken hearted. He’s tired of seeing guys that don’t deserve the money and perks( no trade/ limited trade options) keep getting the lions share of ice time and special teams duty ahead of those who really deserve it say like: Pleks, DD, Shaw and Emelin.
    Bottom line he’s tired of being taken for granted and taken advantage of. He’s been giving it everything he’s got and that is taken as expected. Meanwhile the favourites courted by Therrien get all the breaks and support. Now even Therrien is carefully knocking his play to the press. Meanwhile certain guys put on their invisible jerseys and contribute less than nothing and not a thing is being down about it.
    I can understand where Price is right now. He won’t say it out loud but he knows he won’t end his playing career in MTL. So why knock yourself out every game when your Pres/GM & Head Coach & toadies aren’t fully committed to winning and challenging for the Cup. That’s betrayal on their part and until that changes you’ll only see flashes of the mighty CP.

    The next four days are the most important for this year’s team and the franchise’s future. If Marc Bergevin sticks his head under the ice as expected there will be dire consequences to be paid. If he does a smart thing or two namely fire Therrien and his toadies and promote Kirk Muller. The real smart thing would be to fire Thertien and co. and then fire yourself by promoting Rick Dudley to replace you. The last good think is to make a team altering trade in your top 6 and finding a way to deep 6 both Pleks and DD in the process. Also on the table is to find the proper Defense partner for Weber in order to improve his Efficiency both 5on5 and special teams. If one preferably more of said moves is accomplished the season can be saved as will Price and the team.
    If Bergevin sees his shadow and decides to hide it will be time for the owner to be involved. Yes, Geoff Molson needs to retrieve his balls from the beer fridge and put on his big boy pants and do what owners do when their business is suffering. Take affirmative action!
    So what is it we’ll see done before Saturday?

    Ned Stark February 14, 2017 at 4:02 am Reply

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