The Persecution of Carey Price

by Rick Stephens, AllHabs.net

There were many who made mistakes in Wednesday night’s first exhibition game between the Montreal Canadiens and the Boston Bruins (read game review here). The usually-flawless Bell Centre game-day production team allowed Charles Prevost-Linton to sing the anthems with a faulty mic. Stephane Auger and Greg Kimmerly blew a call that resulted in Andrew Conboy going to the box for being a victim.

The Montreal defense, particularly Jaroslav Spacek’s turnovers, led to two goals. But there was only one player in the cross-hairs of some fans.

Carey Price can be faulted for the first of the four goals. He would likely agree. While Nathan Horton’s shot seemed to deflect off a stick, it was a stoppable puck.

Price was not to blame for the others, a screened shot by Johnny Boychuck on the power-play, and two goals where he was left all alone due to major defensive miscues.

Yet, Price was forced to bear the weight of the sins of the entire team.

The reaction of the Bell Centre fans towards Price, particularly those sitting in the famed Molson Ex zone was reprehensible. It was premeditated and spring-loaded. They seemed genuinely happy to be cheering against one of their own.

Imagine being in your place of business and being slapped (by 20,000 hands) each time that a colleague made a mistake.

In a meaningless game, where a player made a single error, the reaction was irrational and over the top.

In an odd way, it made for an easy night for Curtis Sanford. He and Price split the pre-season game down the middle. Sanford wasn’t tested handling six shots.

While he looked awkward on a couple of the saves, the fans gave Sanford a big ovation, simply because he wasn’t Price.

The mainstream media were only too happy to join the feeding frenzy. The headline that appeared on the post-game report on the CBC website was “Habs’ Price stops 4 of 8 shots in opener.” It’s unlikely that the writer even watched the game.

One Montreal personality sent Twitter messages during a Habs game for the very first time to gloat about Price’s misfortune.

Some in the MSM complained loudly that Price was not available to answer question after the game. It’s interesting that they were silent when Jaroslav Halak skipped the media chats after three dreadful games to end the regular season last year. He did the same thing in the playoffs after getting yanked.

Price was in a no-win situation. If he brushed off the performance as a meaningless exhibition contest, he would be labeled as aloof. If he took it seriously, the media would report that his confidence was shaken and that he had no mental toughness.

Realistically, Price had nothing to gain by meeting the media, nor did he owe them anything. It may be fair to expect players to face reasonable questions from objective media. But it’s Montreal, and none of that applies.

The Montreal players to a man came to the aid of their goaltender.

Tomas Plekanec was not only the Canadiens best player on the ice, he was the first to defend Price, in a captain-like way, saying, “Our fans are the best fans in the world and we need them. There is one guy in the room that needs them the most and that is Carey. He’s our number one goalie and we need our crowd to help him out. He is such a great kid.”

“He works hard every day. We are right behind him. We trust him and he’s our guy,” concluded Plekanec.

Plekanec is dead-on. Price has practised hard and been lights out at training camp.

“We all got his (Price) back and we’re all supporting him,” said Mike Cammalleri. “No one in here is booing him, so if everyone wants to identify with this team, we’re all supporting him so jump on board.”

“It’s about time that people realize they’re not helping him,” said Hal Gill. “They’re not helping the team.”

It is long overdue that so-called fans realize that their behaviour is detrimental to the team. They should either get onboard or step off. The mainstream media has to be much more responsible in presenting an objective view rather than shaping stories to stir up negative reactions.

Tonight’s incident could serve as a rallying point for the players and true fans to call out those who try to hijack the conversation. The real story deserves to be told.

(Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

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About the Author

Profile photo of Rick Stephens
Rick is the Editor-in-Chief, lead contributor, and owner of the All Habs network of websites. His mission is to build a community of Canadiens fans who are informed, engaged and connected. He is the vision behind all four sites within the network - All Habs, Habs Tweetup, We Are Canadiens, and The Montreal Forum - and is responsible for the design and layout of each. In concert with the strong belief that "Habs fans are everywhere!", Rick is pleased that people use All Habs as a conduit to find and connect with other Habs fans worldwide. He is also proud that Habs Tweetups have allowed fans to meet in person and develop long lasting friendships.

25 Enlightened Replies

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  1. Number31 says:

    Since MSM is so upset, I’ve got Price’s answers to their obvious questions.

    “No, not really. I didn’t feel too comfortable but it’ll come. It’s just pre-season. That’s what these games are for. Shake off the rust, get in a good groove, work on a few things, ready ourselves for the real grind of a long season…”

    I’m psychic.

    And here I thought our buddies down in Toronto were overreacting to a 5-0 spanking in preseason where free-ticket fans were booing the 100th consecutive failed 5-on-3 powerplay and the media was asking if it were time to panic. Leave it to Habs fans to find a whole new level of stupid.

  2. Kyle says:

    Are we ready for 7-8 months of this? It’s not going to go away, and the fools that boo Price are now getting a kick out of their behaviour.

    “I pay for my tickets and it’s my right to boo if I want!”

    Fine, but the rest of us will brand you as a total idiot, and we’d be correct. You are no fan by acting that way, and the team has let it be known that your actions aren’t helping.

    Presumably, even the intelligent among the booers would say that by booing Price, they are voicing their displeasure with management’s choice to keep Price and trade Halak. A more effective form of protest would be to stay home, save some money and instead invest in NHL Centre Ice to follow your Southern-bound hero.

    A lot of these people think they’re sending a message that the performance is not good enough. Who do these people think they are? I’m pretty sure Price wasn’t too thrilled with his performance, nor that of his teammates. He doesn’t need thousands of people booing him or making fun of him once he makes a routine save. It’s ludicrous.

    As for skipping the media, only Montreal’s media would make a big deal of this. Are they that desperate to get a canned quote from a kid who’s clearly not going to have much to say? I’ll agree that he didn’t do himself any favours by not giving the hounds what they want, because it’s only going to be worse today when they chase him at practice.

    I’m really not sure if I can deal with this for an entire season.

  3. eric says:

    Hey Rick,
    Great article, as always.
    But I am afraid you are just preaching to the choir, sadly this will not go away. The fans reading this website are the intelligent ones, the ones who understand the game and also understand the meaning of PRE season, fans who, even after 4 or even 5 over priced watered down adult beverages will NOT boo any player on ?their? team?
    It is disgusting, ridiculous and so over the top, that it make even me embarrassed of being a Habs fan, being a drunk in the EX section is no excuse, it?s just that their liquid courage allows them to do so, I like that teammates are coming out, BUT where is the big F you? Where is Gauthier, demanding the mic and telling his fans to shut up? See the footage of Gainey who stuck his neck out for Brisebois of all people, that?s what you do, you call them out, and keep doing so, they are not wanted at the Bell Centre, so call them out, I would love to have a player make fun of them?
    I see where Stubbs is coming from, but I would?ve done the exact same thing, he owes nothing to these fans , NOTHING, I am sure he spoke to his teammates, they spoke to him, he only owes to the Team, and nothing to the fans, lets enjoy his time here, because Price will leave as soon as he can, mark my words?.

  4. Profile photo of Lyse says:

    And I was so looking forward to Hocktober…

    I’m not so sure anymore. I don’t want to be associated to those boo birds who call themselves fans of my favorite team.

    There are still only 6 preseason games before the real thing and having to discuss this instead of hockey, or of the promising elements brought forward by the likes of Palushaj, Tinordi and Leblanc…

    Or maybe it was only a bad nightmare.

  5. Michel says:

    I am from Montreal and am a goalie!! I would so hate to play for Montreal, these fans (booing Price) are total moron that really don’t care if we win. Goaltending is a mind game and getting booed will certainly not help him.

    He is a good goalie with the potential of being great. What are you doing? Waiting for him to be traded to another team, blossom and kick our arse!!! Come on, give the guy a break!

    P.S. Mark my word Halak will not do so great this year…Look at Thomas!!!!

  6. Simon says:

    This is professional sports and this guy is making millions. Fans have a right to boo all they want and demand the best from their players and team management. Carey Price doesn’t even come close to being the best.

    • Kyle says:

      You know what, you’re right. The fans have the right to boo. But in doing so they are exposing themselves as jerks and awful fans.

      Listen to the quotes from the players. Booing only makes things worse. I don’t know what thought process takes place in a fan’s head that says “If I boo him, he’ll play better” or “If I boo him enough, management will trade him”. It’s simple arrogance. Habs fans aren’t alone in this sort of behaviour, but they’re very quickly separating themselves from the pack and taking it to a whole new level.

      It’s fine to be unhappy with individual performances. The intelligent fan will find ways to voice it rather than focusing mean-spiritedness on one player. This has taken on a life of its own and the morons booing Price are now doing so for the thrill of it.

      They’re idiots. Plain and simple.

      These people should get behind the team, or get lost. Save their money and go support the Blues if they prefer.

      • Simon says:

        Kyle,

        I think for some its simply a matter of frustration with Price’s continued lack of performance coupled with the inability to otherwise influence management. How many more losses (and seasons) will it take for execs to realize that Price might be better suited to first building his skills in the AHL. I’m a die-hard Habs fan and I’m frustrated and this is one guy I’m not going to support – because we shouldn’t have to support failure. And if a few drunkards decide to boo, I will probably join them. All that aside, I really do hope he proves me wrong.

  7. James says:

    Unfortunately, this is just the beginning. No matter how well Price plays this year (hopefully it’ll be very very well!), he’ll still have bad outings. Besides, he appears to be one of those just plain unlucky goaltender, so we better get used to it… both the fluky goals against and the booing morons in the ‘cheap’ seats.

    That said, I really wish the org would take a stand against this instead of just pandering to the masses. I’m not talking about the other players here, I think their reaction was great. I’m thinking more about the coach and the GM… I would love, so much, for the Goat to just hold a presser and say something like:

    ‘The Montreal Canadiens are an organization built on class and respect. Within the organization, we treat everyone with the highest respect, from the staff to the players. This has always been and it will remain that way. The way some fans are treating Carey Price is an completely classless, and the Canadiens will not tolerate such behavior. From now on, Price will not be available to the media, at all, until the booing has ceased for good, in the Bell Center. That is all.’

    Hell it could even come from Molson himself, if that’s what it takes. The cretins who are, I hope, a minority of the fanbase need to be TOLD that they are cretins, not vindicated by the mainstream media. Someone with authority has to get the message across… how I wish someone in the Canadiens organization would put their pants on in this case!

  8. Brian says:

    Very good article Rick. The only part I might disagree with is that I believe Carey could have and should have faced the media regardless how blown out of proportion this all is. I could understand the silence a little more if this was in the midst of a down to the wire playoff drive or in the playoffs themselves so I’m not sure the example of Halak skipping a post game presser is the best comparison. Part of the responsibility of being a pro athlete is dealing with the media like it or not. And I think this was a missed opportunity to show his maturity and growth in what is considered a new goaltending era of the Montreal Canadiens.

  9. Reza says:

    Booing a pre-season game is the ultimate in shortsightedness, not that I am for booing at a regular season game, but really what are people thinking?

    In my opinion answering questions is one thing he should do because avoiding the media, no matter what kind of media it is, will not do him any good. He obviously knows he is facing some media that act as foolishly as the ‘fans’ so simply avoiding them means little. Not just hockey, not just Montreal, not just Price but any personality, celebrity or whatever will be feeding the media if he avoids them.

  10. Mark W says:

    Habs fans are frustrating sometimes. But I know it’s not all of them, just a select few that I’m sure don’t really know what’s going on down on the ice. I don’t think they realize how fortunate they are to have a professional sports club with such history and prestige right in their own back yard. I’d love to be able to cheer my team whether they win or loose, because I appreciate their effort.

    The closest professional sport club to me is 4 provinces away (luckily for me, it’s the Montreal Canadians:D) and I’m only going to get to see my first game this year (January 6 vs. Penguins…and hopefully January 8 vs. Bruins). I have to fly from the most easterly place in Canada where the cheapest flight is $600. Whether they win win or loose, I’m just glad I’ll get to experience it at the Bell Centre. Although I would prefer the 2 points, as well.

    The way the media overreacted, and the fans booed, they didn’t deserve to hear from Price as far as I’m concerned. You want to talk to the guy? Give him some respect! Avoiding the media was exactly what he needed to do yesterday.

  11. Jimmy Myers says:

    The shortcomings of Carey Price should’nt be at question here. We all know Carey Price has great potential, laden with lack of confidence/conditioning/experience or what have you.
    The fingers should point squarely at montreal management for putting carey, the candiens and us fans in this unfortunate position. Carey should have 3-4 years experience in the AHL by now. He should possess a track record of being able to handle a 60-70 game season playing with pros, and knowing he himself to be one.

  12. moeman says:

    Great read. I agree 100%.

  13. Many of the fans in Montreal forget very quickly what history has been like recently in goal for the Habs.

    Start with Jose Theodore. He won the Hart and Vezina trophies, and they were well deserved. After the Journal de Montreal published a picture of him at a Hell’s Angels bunker party, all hell broke loose. He was so shaken by the image, he was never the same goalie.

    Ultimately, he received the support of GM Bob Gainey, while coach Claude Julien want to win, so he started Cristobal Huet more often, which cost him his job.

    The following year, Huet was our starter, with Halak as his backup. Although Huet was red hot to start that season, he fizzled out, culminating in a playoff loss against the eventual Stanley Cup champion Carolina Hurricanes.

    The next season, which was Price’s first, Huet got traded to the Capitals. This move essentially made Price the Canadiens’ future no. 1 goalie. Halak again was the backup. Price had just come off winning gold with Team Canada at the WJHC, and winning the Calder Cup with the Bulldogs.

    With expectations being sky high, Price struggled. Halak, who essentially was in a win-win situation did well to finish the season. The Habs lost to the Bruins in the 1st round that year, and Price was blamed for the whole thing.

    Then there was last year. Enough said on that front.

    All this to say that, although the backup goalies for the Habs have had good results, they eventually fizzle out and the magic dissipates. Let’s give our starter a chance. The last time we allowed a young goalie to play without any pressure, he won us a Stanley Cup…His name was Patrick Roy.

    Lighten up people.

    • Michel says:

      Kosta

      Well said, back up goalies are back up for a reason, seldom do they end up great. I am convinced that Price will be great either with us or , unfortunately, with another team.

  14. Number31 says:

    Either way…it’s PREseason. Jaro, Luongo, Brodeur…they all had a crappy first days.

  15. Habcowboy says:

    As a calgarian who has cheered for the Habs my whole life. I would give anything to see a game at the bell center to support the greatest sports franchise in the world. But you folks in Montreal just seem to be unable to support what they do. The team needs you. They don’t need your boos. It almost cost their playoff run in Pittsburg. They proved all you haters wrong. Yet you still pay to put them down. Be proud of your team. Support your team. They’re great with you cheering. and fail every time you boo. Please open your eyes so the cup can finally come home. You fans should feel a great shame. It embarrassing listening to you tear down EVERYTHING the team stands for. Go cheer for Toronto or Boston. We don’t need you.

  16. Habcowboy says:

    I cannot believe you ‘fans’ to shame!

  17. Cry me a river says:

    Carey price is a sook. He blew it in the playoffs in his first year and blamed it on being tired… It’s the playoffs. He never owns up to anything.. If he came out and said he had a crappy game, fine, but always sounding uninterested night in and night out is unacceptable. Throwing his arms up in the air a few years ago to the Montreal fans also didn’t sit well. These people are paying his salary. He is immature. I am surprised the habs mgmt hasn’t hasn’t told keep quiet. And what is with the contract negotiations this year??? Joke!! It’s time he earned his money and work to gain the respect of the fans. I wouldn’t go after the Montreal fans… They sellout at a preseason games. Not many teams have that… They just want effort and players who will work hard and take the game seriously. This is a business not a game of shinny like price makes it out to be. Fans have to pay a lot of money to see a game. Some fans i am sure saved for a long time to try and take their child to a game, and if I saw the effort he put into some games and his ” i don’t give a da## ” attitude, I would be disgusted. Everything revolves around carey. He loves the attention- bringing it on through interviews, hands in the air, punching holes in the walls- attention hound-boos serves him right- but my guess is he enjoys tahr attention too. Like hollywood – any publicity is good publiciy. He was so used to everyone telling him how great he is growing up. It’s time to man up or get out.

  18. smalrus says:

    Canadiens.com sent me a post-game report for a preseason match. They *are* aware these games don’t count for squat?

    If Gary Bettman really wanted to make the league something new, he should count preseason games as half point-values. That would SURE make team strategy/caps/trades/deadlings, as well as the March/April stretch wayyyy more interesting!

    Of course, what that means is Price gets more time for boos, but hey, you gotta fund your Sunbelt Strategy/PHX somehow!

  19. Jeff says:

    I was one of the many sorry to see Halak go.
    I was not thrilled with Carey Price’s attitude.
    In light of the last few days I am willing to support him because he seems to have adopted a little more of a diplomatic stance and hopefully the team effort will translate into positive results for Carey and the team.
    If not positive action should be taken.
    If that means replacing him in net it should be done without criticism of him. responsibility is with team management.
    So far they have not impressed.
    We are Canadiens!

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