During the off season, the Montreal Canadiens locked up Goaltender Cary Price by inking him to a six year deal worth a reportedly $39 million. By making such a long term and expensive committment to the 25 year old netminder, the organization obviously feels Price has earned his stripes and is just the right guy to lead them into battle for the next half dozen seasons.
Few jobs in sports can compare to the immense pressures associated with being a Canadiens goalie. This is a position which has been manned by two Hall of Famers (Ken Dryden and Patrick Roy) who not only won the Stanley Cup in their rookie seasons, but were also awarded the NHL Conn Smythe Trophy for their exemplary performances during the playoffs. Talk about having some big goalie pads to fill!
The only other occupation which may require more nerves of steel than Hab’s goalie is bomb squad diffuser. In five seasons, Price has successfully diffused the doubts of legions of Canadiens’ followers, who can be just as explosive as a room full of TNT. Although the Anahim Lake, British Columbia native has never had the thrill of capturing the Cup, his consistent and durable play between the pipes has earned him the respect of players, fans and management alike.
Ironically, the closest the Canadiens have come to winning the Cup during Price’s tenure was 2009-2010, when he was sitting on the bench for most of the postseason watching Jaroslav Halek’s outstanding goaltending lead the team to the Eastern Conference Finals. For all his playoff heroics, the Habs informed Halek not to come on down next season by trading him to the Saint Louis Blues, cementing Price’s status as the Habs’ number one goalie.
Given the circumstances, rarely will a team with such little tolerance for failure show such confidence in a player, as they did in Price with the trade of Halek. One can only surmise the team was not interested in a showcase showdown for the top goalie spot. Price fixing or Price fixation? Take your pick.
By signing Price to a long term and well heeled deal, the Canadiens have gone all in, laying their bets on their main man to lead the franchise to the promised land. Of course, the fact that Montreal finished 13th out of 15 teams in the Eastern Conference in goals scored in 2011-2012 did not hurt Price’s bargaining power. At this stage, the team can hardly afford the uncertainty of a goaltending switch, considering the position represents one of the Canadiens’ few strengths.
Now…the real pressure is on Montreal management to provide Price with the supporting cast which is capable of taking the team to a more competitive level. If they fail in their rebuilding endeavor, the Price signing will be viewed as just another overbid.
Heck, even those who have never heard of Bob Barker know an overbid on a price disqualifies one from the big prize.