OTTAWA – All-Star captain Zdeno Chara will be keeping his friends close and his enemies closer this weekend.
Sunday’s All-Star Game will have Habs fans chanting something they likely never imagined coming out of their mouths: “Go Team Chara”. When the Bruins captain stepped to the podium in the seventh round next to assist captain, Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul, it might have come as a surprise to hear him call on the star Canadiens netminder. Such a surprise, in fact, that Price didn’t even realize it had happened.
“I didn’t know I was picked. I think Hartsy [Scott Hartnell] tapped me on the leg and said, ‘It’s you’,” laughed Price, who will also join Bruins rivals Tim Thomas and Tyler Seguin along with Leafs forward Phil Kessel in the game. “I didn’t know and then when I got out there I didn’t even see big Zdeno Chara out there – all 6-foot-10 of him.”
After shaking hands with Lupul and proudly scooping up his new, blue No.31 jersey from the Leafs winger, Price accidentally left his temporary captain hanging – a snub he’s planning to make up for this weekend.
“I feel shame,” he joked, after walking by without noticing Chara’s outstretched hand. “I gave him a point after, actually, when I walked by. He kind of looked at me funny. I felt bad. He’s a big guy so I was like, ‘Oh, how’d I miss him?’ I was looking down – you know goalies don’t stickhandle with their heads up.”
Far from holding a grudge against his seventh-round selection, after the Draft, Chara was actually shouldering the blame for the on-stage miscue.
“That was my bad – I missed him,” admitted the king-sized Slovak. “I was kind of following the picks and I was trying to look at the computer to see how much time I had and how many picks I had left and he snuck by. No big deal.”
With the bitter rivalry on ice for the time being, the 24-year-old Habs All-Star is happy to be suiting up alongside his Beantown rivals for one weekend.
“They’re good guys. We play against them all season and you learn to hate them, but you get on their team and they’re actually pretty good guys,” he explained. “That’s kind of the fun thing about this whole event; you get to meet guys that normally you learn to hate but at the end of the day they’re just trying to do their job, too.”
Set to share the crease with Thomas and Jimmy Howard on Sunday afternoon, Price knows he’ll have to make each of his 20 minutes count if he wants to walk away with the weekend’s most coveted award.
“The expectations are low for goaltenders. You don’t go in with a whole lot of pressure knowing you’re probably going to get lit up,” cracked Price. “I’ll just go out there and hopefully make a couple of big saves and try to get the Honda.”
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.
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