MONTREAL – Carey Price may be headed back to B.C. for the summer, but he’d like you to know he’s left his heart in Montreal.
With his current contract set to come to an end on June 30, Price is the first to admit that the Canadiens’ most recent campaign left a lot to be desired from both players and fans alike.
“It was a difficult season for sure. As a goalie, it’s hard not to put a lot of pressure and expectations on your own shoulders. I think I finished having played a pretty decent season, but at the same time, I also think there’s a lot more that I could have done,” explained Price, who received the third invite of his career to the NHL’s All-Star Game in 2011-12. “More than a few of my teammates probably feel the same way. At the same time, it would be a mistake to not also look at the positive elements of our season.”
Despite his team finishing out the year at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, Price maintains an optimistic view of the years ahead, counting the 2011-12 campaign as a learning experience for all involved.
“We have a lot of great pieces already in place in this dressing room,” underlined Price. “There are a lot of positive elements that we’ll be able to build on, and a lot of opportunities to take advantage of in the future. Montreal is definitely the place I want to be, and the group I want to be a part of.”
After setting a team record the previous season having manned the Canadiens crease for an unprecedented 72 games, the arrival of Peter Budaj created a more manageable schedule for the Habs’ starter, with Budaj helping shoulder more of the workload. Stepping between the pipes for 65 of the year’s first 78 games before shutting things down for the last four tilts after suffering a concussion, Price still managed to rank as the sixth busiest goalie in the league, disputing 3944 minutes of action.
“I played a lot of games this year, but I think the way they spilt things up between us was well done,” expressed Price, who also became only the seventh goaltender in NHL history to play 250 games before the age of 25. “[Canadiens’ goaltending coach] Pierre Groulx did a great job of working with me to make sure I got the rest I needed, when I needed it. He didn’t push me too hard over the course of the season. I think we make a good team.”
With the Habs’ Player of the Year slated to become a free agent in the coming months, Price will be a top priority for the new general manager. While details about his new contract will obviously remain under wraps, the Anahim Lake native is setting his sights on wearing the CH across his chest for a long time to come.
“There are a lot of comparisons that have already been made,” admitted Price, who’s heard his named mentioned alongside the likes of Pekka Rinne and Cam Ward on subject hefty goaltender contracts. “I don’t have any details at this point, but I do know that I want play here far into the future. I have a house here and I already feel well established within the core of this organization.
“Montreal is an incredible place to be able to play hockey,” finished Price. “We had a hard season and obviously no one likes to lose, but I’ve also been part of a winning season in this city, and I can tell you, as a hockey player, there’s no better place to be.”
Alexandre Harvey is a writer for canadiens.com. Translated by Justin Fragapane.
The break up