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Through a father's eyes

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

MONTREAL – There’s no bigger Carey Price supporter out there than his father, Jerry.

A former netminder in his own right, the 56-year-old has been fortunate enough to have a front-row seat to witness the Canadiens starter’s remarkable development over the years, and his steady climb to the top of the world’s goaltending ranks.

Photo Credit: Bob Fisher

While Mr. Price always knew there was something special about his son, particularly his enduring love for the game of hockey as a child, foreseeing Carey’s meteoric rise to elite status wasn’t something he’d necessarily envisioned when the now four-time NHL All-Star was still skating on a rink just outside the family’s front door in Anahim Lake, BC.

“I don’t know if I could have seen it coming. It’s just sometimes you have a sense about things. Carey’s always been a very confident person, even as a child. I just think that he had made up his mind as a young person that this is what he was going to be. He just never doubted it,” offered Mr. Price, an Alberta native, who was selected 126th overall by the Philadelphia Flyers in 1978, 27 years before the Canadiens made Carey the fifth-overall pick in 2005 out of Tri-City in the WHL. “To be honest, I just supported him. I always had confidence in him. Being in Montreal is just a dream come true, for him and for me. I grew up a Habs fan in Western Canada. It’s such a great honour to see the names of all the legends that have played there. It’s been enormously gratifying to see him succeed in the city.”

Mr. Price will be the first one to tell you that his son’s incredible success is a by-product of far more than just innate ability. Carey’s natural athleticism was evident from the start, but staying true to himself and his humble upbringing has ultimately propelled him to new heights eight seasons into his NHL career.

“I think faith is one thing [that has helped], belief in yourself and hard work. Carey has always held to those values. I’ve just seen him mature and grow as a person,” praised Mr. Price, before expanding upon some additional qualities that he feels contributed to the 27-year-old’s penchant for consistency between the pipes. “You also see that desire to win and that willingness to give whatever it takes to make that happen. He loves his teammates, the city that he plays for and the country that he plays for. He’s also a tremendously loyal person to the people he’s close to. That’s not about personal accomplishments. He wants to be a part of a team. He wants to contribute in any way he can. That’s what drives him.”

It also hasn’t hurt Carey’s cause to boast the prototypical demeanor to handle the inevitable pressures that come with plying the goaltending trade in the hockey mecca of Montreal.

Photo Credit: Bob Fisher

“If things go wrong, he’s upset, obviously. He probably should be when he doesn’t play well or the team loses a big game. But, one of his strengths is that he’s got a short memory. He doesn’t dwell on negative things. That’s pretty much the way he’s been his entire life. That’s his personality,” explained Mr. Price, who has seen Carey claim World Junior Hockey Championship, Calder Cup, and Olympic  titles over the last decade, in addition to a host of Habs honours and team records, too. “He’s able to move on from things like injuries and so on. Down times are a part of the game. He’s been around the league long enough to understand that. Being a goalie in Montreal is a demanding thing. We’ve seen him handle the highs and lows already. He’ll continue to do so. That’s a part of gaining your own confidence and the confidence of others. You learn to respect yourself as an individual and as a goalie through those experiences. He’s handled it all, and the team has confidence in him that he’ll keep doing it.”

That consummate professionalism is exactly what earned the five-time Molson Cup Player of the Year Award winner a de facto spot within the Canadiens’ new leadership structure which was announced this past September. While league rules don’t permit Carey to sport an “A” on his chest like forwards Max Pacioretty and Tomas Plekanec, and defensemen Andrei Markov and P.K. Subban, head coach Michel Therrien insisted the three-time 30-game winner was to be involved in all captains meetings during the 2014-15 campaign.

“I think just to be considered in that light is an honour on any team, particularly for a goalie,” affirmed Mr. Price, who was recently in attendance at the 2015 NHL All-Star Game in Columbus to watch Carey start in goal for Team Foligno. “Carey has some natural leadership skills. I know my wife, his mother, Lynda, certainly does [as the former elected chief of the Ulkatcho First Nation]. His mom and I are different people who lead in different ways, and Carey has kind of combined both of those leadership styles. To see Carey considered as part of the leadership group was something.

Photo Credit: Bob Fisher

“That’s where Carey’s composure comes into play,” added Mr. Price, a former adult-education teacher in Anahim Lake. “You know that the gears inside him are turning [in a tough game]. He hates to be scored on. Carey’s not totally stone cold. He realizes that as a member of the team and the leadership group, the expectation is that he’s got to show leadership regardless of what’s going on. Sometimes, leadership is shown by not doing anything. Sometimes, it’s shown by breaking your stick over the crossbar. It’s not just that Carey stops the puck, but that he demonstrates those leadership qualities on the ice as well.”

There’s no denying that Carey’s on-ice achievements have made his family proud, but the man who used to fly his son to Williams Lake, BC for practice and games aboard a four-seat Piper Cherokee insists that his off-ice accomplishments have been especially rewarding.

“It’s his growth as a young man, husband, and probably in the future as a father that are impressive, just to see that maturity in him. Then, to get acknowledgements from Michel and others in that regard is everything for a parent,” praised Mr. Price, referencing Therrien’s comments prior to the All-Star break in late January lauding Carey’s presence as the Canadiens’ veteran representative at the mid-season tilt in Ohio. “I’m very proud of who he’s become. Carey was just blessed to have a lot of things work out, and especially blessed to have them work out in Montreal.”

Knowing his son, though, Mr. Price contends Carey isn’t satisfied with his hockey resume at this stage of the game. After all, he hasn’t yet achieved his primary objective.

“There would be nothing like winning a Stanley Cup in Montreal. He wants it a lot. World Juniors in Sweden were great. Winning in Hamilton was great. The Olympics in Sochi were great. But, to raise the Cup, and with the parade being on Sainte Catherine St., to see that would just be unbelievable,” concluded Mr. Price. “Carey loves the city, loves the people and loves the fans. The ultimate goal is to do it for the people and for his teammates.”

Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for canadiens.com.

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