BROSSARD - The sudden dismissal of Stéphane Waite caught Carey Price by surprise.
Waite was relieved of his duties during the second intermission of Tuesday night's game against the Senators at the Bell Centre after serving as the Canadiens' goaltending coach since July 2013.
The pair had spent the last seven-plus seasons working side-by-side through the inevitable ups and downs that come with donning the pads, enjoying plenty of success along the way.
That includes the memorable 2014-15 campaign, when Waite helped guide Price to a League-leading 44 wins, 1.96 goals-against average and .933 save percentage en route to claiming the Hart Trophy, Vezina Trophy and Ted Lindsay Award, among many other significant honors.
"It's an unfortunate part of the business," said Price, following Wednesday's practice at the Bell Sports Complex. "I'm grateful for the time I spent with Steph. He's been a hard-working, dedicated goalie coach and I really appreciate all the work that he's done with us."
Video: Carey Price on the arrival of Sean Burke
Nevertheless, the 33-year-old Anahim Lake, BC native believes the switch to being mentored by former NHLer Sean Burke will prove beneficial for him and Jake Allen alike in the long run.
Price hasn't exactly met expectations thus far this season numbers-wise, posting a 6-4-3 record in 13 starts, along with a 2.96 goals-against average and a subpar .893 save percentage, so he's open to fresh methods and tactics.
"It's an evolution of maybe small things that have led up to this point," responded Price, when asked to identify what went wrong in his working relationship with Waite. "Sometimes, change is good. Sometimes, it's just good to hear a new voice. It's not to say that I didn't appreciate what Steph was doing, it's just sometimes it's a necessity in pro hockey."
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Burke's extensive resume speaks for itself, of course, so Price is eager to learn under him in the weeks and months ahead.
They already had their first virtual meeting after practice, and will keep that going while Burke serves his mandatory 14-day quarantine before hitting the ice with his new pupils.
That's expected to happen when the Canadiens return from their upcoming six-game road trip, which begins next week and features stops in Vancouver, Calgary and Winnipeg.
"He's a very good guy, very easy to talk to. I haven't worked with him a ton. I'm looking forward to this opportunity to work with him," mentioned Price, regarding the Canadiens' new director of goaltending. "We're just going to work on simplifying things. We haven't talked about a game plan yet, so we'll cover that when it comes."
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In the meantime, the seven-time All-Star will be training closely with Laval Rocket goaltending coach Marco Marciano, who'll be sticking with the big club until Burke is cleared to enter the Habs' bubble.
"He's a very enthusiastic guy," praised Price, on the subject of Marciano. "He brings a lot of energy and it's going to be fun."
'We don't have time to dwell on things'
The winningest netminder in franchise history is well aware of his struggles of late, but he has every reason to feel good about his 26-save performance versus Ottawa.
Along with power play goals scored by Brendan Gallagher and Jeff Petry, Price played a key role in helping to snap the Canadiens' five-game winless skid.
He'd like to keep that positive energy flowing with a two-game set against the Jets on the horizon.
"It's just about moving forward," insisted Price. "Right now, it's a quick turnaround. We don't have a lot of time to dwell on things, so it's all about regrouping and getting the work done."
And he won't let anything get in the way of his effort to be more consistent between the pipes.
"There are ups and downs in every season," said Price, who is only five appearances shy of his 700th NHL game. "It's all about trying to stay focused on your objective."