Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Could that have been Price's last game as a Hab?

I'm just wondering, because there are a lot of reasons why that might be the case.

The Roy style arm-raising at the mock cheers from the crowd during Wednesday's Game 4 beating at the hands of the Bruins was just the last sign in a long line of lowlights for the young goalie this year.

Not to overreact about one, singular moment in a long season full of letdowns, but Carey Price's reaction - to me at least - looked like a kid who was already fed up of the demands of being not only the number one goalie for the Montreal Canadiens, but the saviour of a franchise that now looks to be in dire need of one.

In a perfect world, Price wouldn't even be near his prime right now and the Canadiens would still be molding him for the starting role after a full season in Hamilton and platoon situation this year. But that's just not how it works in the salary cap NHL, and if you believe you have a stud rookie who can play on an entry level deal, you have no choice but to play him.

Last year's playoffs hinted that Price wasn't ready, and this season only confirmed it. Not to say he played poorly on Wednesday, because he didn't. The only goal he really had a chance on was Phil Kessel's, and even that came on a breakaway. But the total regression he had since January and the off-ice rumours that have been swirling about him make me wonder if he could ever realize his full potential in Montreal.

Because Price does indeed have potential. Tons of it. But will he ever be able to forget this year and put it behind him, let alone grow from it? Not too sure, and he's still a pretty decent trade chip should the Habs decide to go that route.

But who will be making that call? Bob Gainey had a lot of pressure to produce a winning team this season and he didn't deliver. Even firing Guy Carbonneau didn't work, though I've really grown tired of the idiots who chant his name at the Bell Centre because they're the same people who were calling for his head when he still had the job. Though the reasons for Gainey's failure were largely out of his control - injuries and young players being stupid chief among them - it is still Gainey that will have to answer for this disappointing season.

The only thing that might save him is the unstable ownership situation, because any incoming owner may want a name GM attached to the team, but this would be a pretty ideal situation for a new manager to walk into with a pretty clean slate to work with.


FinnHab said...

Price going to Tampa Bay, perhaps?

Sliver24 said...

Well that was pretty ugly. The sad thing is that it was well deserved. It's not that the Habs lost, it's that they rolled over and played dead. And I'm not simply talking about the Boston series, I'm talking about the last four months.

But having said what I had to about the team and series in my last post, I'm going to focus on something that frustrates me to no end every time I see it.

I'm beyond tired of listening to the people involved in professional sports whine about their treatment at the hands of fans. I do respect Bob Gainey but when he spouts off about how Price was being bullied I wonder whether he's the right guy to be leading the team. I felt the same way when he called out the fans that were booing Brisebois back in his #43 days.

First off I'd like to make it clear that I have no problem with what Price did when he raised his arms. It's nice to see that he cares. Maybe if more of his teammates played with the same emotion the team would have been at least respectful for the last half of the season.

But the players and management of professional sports teams have absolutely no perspective when it comes to real life, so when Bob Gainey gets in my ear I don't appreciate it (for the record I wasn't there tonight, and I doubt I would have been among those sarcastically cheering Price because I didn’t feel the loss had anything to do with his play).

With his bonus Carey Price made $2.2 million dollars this year. As avid fans we bandy these numbers about without too much thought, but let’s take a moment to put that number in perspective.

Let's say you make $55,000 per year at your current job. That's not a bad salary - a person can live very comfortably in Montreal bringing in that kind of dough.

You wake up early every morning and get ready for the day. You ride the metro or fight traffic for 45 minutes and you spend eight or more hours doing a job that you may or may not like. Then it takes you 45 minutes to get back home. You do that five days a week, 50 weeks per year.

Do some quick math and you realize that woah, it would take you 40 years to make what Carey Price earned for the "work" he's done since Spetember.

40 years. That's your whole career folks.

And Price is only the eighth-highest paid Hab. It would take you around 100 years - 100 YEARS!!!!! - to make what Schneider, Tanguay, Markov, Hamrlik and Tanguay pulled in over the last eight months.

So boo-fricking-hoo Bob, my heart bleeds for you and your overpaid underachievers.

Mr. Gainey, let's make a deal. I'll continue to care way too much about what you do if you make sure to stick to what happens on the ice and in the room. I like to have something to be passionate about - love it even - but let's be clear about something: I don't need it.

I have a job and a wife and a kid and a dog. I have car and mortgage and insurance payments, phone and hydro and gas bills to pay. I have a small business to run. I have a lawn to rake and mow or snow to shovel. Right now I have taxes to do. I have friends and family to spend time with.

My obsession with the fate of your team is completely elective, and there are plenty of people who feel the same way I do. It wasn't that long ago that the Canadiens played in front of 3,000 less people at the Bell Centre.

When you start blurring the line between the NHL and real life you're skating on pretty this ice, at least with this fan.

So please, keep your self-serving sanctimony to yourself and our relationship can continue on as it has for the last five years or so.

You and your mates can benefit disproportionately for your contribution to society and I can care disproportionately about it.

Anonymous said...

The difference between Roy and Price is that Price is a 21 year old and Roy was a multi-millionaire. Sure he made a ton of money but he is still a kid! What were you doing at 21?

Give the kid a break, he is learning on the job. You want Luongo, cuz till this year he hasn't gotten over the hump till this year and still has a lot to prove. What if you never had a chance to get comfortable with what you started as a career at 21? Were you a made man at 21?

Price ain't done and will get better, running him outta town because we live in real life makes sense.

Sliver24 said...

I never said they should get rid of Price. I still think and hope he's the goalie is the Habs' future.

My issue is with Gainey and his attitude toward fans expressing their opinions.

If I wasn't clear: quit whining. If you suck we get to boo. Sometimes the booing isn't even fair, but neither is what you're getting to play hockey. Suck it up.

It's that simple.

Ted said...


Your comments made me feel better because it does put it in perspective. The lone discomfort I have is that, while I wholeheartedly agree with what you say, I fear it will result in the Habs inability to attract and keep their talent because there are now 29 other choices for the "overpaid underachievers" and in those other cities they're not booed, not questioned and in most cases appreciated as a night in a cold place in a warm climate. I've watched games in 12 different settings in the NHL and there is no place like Montreal. The emotion is real and immediate. When its not going well in other places "even Philly" it gets quiet. When it goes on for a long time - they stop going. Much less impact on the players.

Anonymous said...

Silver24... as much as my heart bleeds for your plight: hard-working stiff with wife, kids, dog, addiction to the Canadiens, etc. (pause while I stiffle a yawn) I don't buy your argument one bit.

I think Bob Gainey is saying that if your obsession with the team exceeds you ability to act rationally and reasonably with the young men under his care, you can go to hell. I'm with him on that one.

Good luck.

Sliver24 said...

First off, I wasn't complaining about my life, so you can save your pity for the poor, poor Habs players that are being pushed around by those big mean old hockey fans.

While I'd trade pay cheques with Price in a heartbeat, that's where it ends. (Okay, I'd trade ages with him too. And hair. But I digress.)

Furthermore, your argument shows that you didn't understand my point at all. In fact it further supports my thoughts.

There is absolutely nothing rational or reasonable about grown men and women investing so much emotionally into something that is so meaningless.

There is nothing rational or reasonable about spending $150 so that you can spend three hours crammed in a seat watching a regular season game that most of the players barely get up for.

There is nothing rational or reasonable about dropping $100 so your name can go on a brick in the middle of a train station court yard. (That Centennial Plaza really drove home the point, at least to me, that the Gillett family it going to do everything it can to suck every single penny possible out of us.)

There is nothing rational or reasonable about spending $250 on a shirt because it has a logo and a the name of a player that will probably be gone in a year or two on it.

The Canadiens - in fact the professional sports industry as a whole - depend exclusively on a complete disregard for rationality and reasonability on the part of their customers.

That is precisely why I get so miffed when they criticize the very thing they foster and feed off of in the first place.

If you can't deal with the irrational frustration and anger and sadness that come from a letdown by the team, quit doing everything in your power to get your fans so emotionally involved. It's hypocritical and selfish.

Schrick said...

I am really tired of the "learning on the job" crap. When I pay for a service or entertainment, I don't want to pay for someones training. This is professional sports. Next time you go to work, try to use that "learning on the job" crap with your clients or boss. See how far that gets you.

Anonymous said...

Silver24, now the Gillette family is sucking every one of your pennies. Are you incapable of making a single reasoned decision on your own or taking responsibility for your own actions?

Why is it George Gillette's problem if you can't resist trinkets and trash? They sell that stuff because guys like you are screaming for it.

I understand what you're arguing for - that attitude has been around for as long as there have been professional athletes and bitter fans - I just don't agree with it.

You want to waste your money on that crap, go ahead and all the power to you. Just don't take your anger about it out on the players you are supposed to be supporting as a fan of the team and don't be so surprised when people defend them... like Gainey did and I will every time.

Sliver24 said...

Anonymous, you're missing the point again but this time I think you're doing it on purpose just to be argumentative.

I'm not saying it's a problem that the Canadiens sell their merchandise at inflated prices. The people who are buying it are doing so, presumably, of their own free will. When I spend $9.75 on an Ex at the game I know I'm paying too much and I do it anyways.

My point was and is this: when you reap financial gain from the purposefully stirred-up emotions of fans you forfeit the right to complain when they get upset. Nothing you've written so far makes a sensible argument against that statement.

Also, where does it say that just because I choose to root for a certain team that I'm "supposed" (to use your word) to support them blindly.

That position makes no sense at all. If I don't buy jerseys and go to games then I can think what I want about the team and the players.

If, on the other hand, I do choose to spend some of my hard-earned cash on the team, then I'm forgoing my right to have expectations and criticize the team and players when the expectations aren't met?

Unlike you, the fact that I root for a team does not mean I have to support them blindly and without independent thought.

Anonymous said...

And now we have the old 'support them blindly and without independent thought'.

You're not one of those types are you? No, you're the strong, independent thinker who believes you pay a couple of hundred dollars (of hard-earned money, not the easy kind like professional atheletes make) for somethig and you're entitled to say what you want... from the safety and anonymity of the stands of course.

To be clear, I get your point. I just think you're dead wrong. Gainey has a right and an obligation to defend the players.

And again, to be clear, what he is saying is if you can't restrain yourself from degrading the players unfairly and don't like him defending them, you can buy some other team's crap... this one does not want you or need you.

Sliver24 said...

Carey? Is that you? Or Bob?

LOL, now it's getting personal so I think I'll leave it at that. But I will continue to support - or not - the team as I see fit.

I'd love to hear from some other folks to see who they agree with.

Incidentally, it would have been nice to at least have a name to disagree with Mr. Anonymous.

Schrick said...

I waste my money on useless Habs merchandise. So what? As for booing, criticism is part of the job description. If Free Agents don't want to come here, it's their loss. They say the same thing about playing baseball for the Yankees.

pmk said...

Although I agree with your argument sliver, fans do have a right to voice their displeasure, the booing still bothers me and I'll tell you why. While I can understand the frustration - this has been a very frustrating season - what bothers me is that the people booing last night were probably the same idiots booing the American Anthem, the same idiots who started a riot last year, the same idiots chanting carbo's name (and who booed him too earlier in the year), and the same idiots throwing stuff on the ice ... there is a really ugly element to some habs fans. To me it is embarrassing and disgusting. And I think Bob is right to defend his players from this element. So I have no problem really if people JUST boo but leave it at that. Unfortunately I believe that the people that boo and the idiots who do the things I mentioned above are one and the same and that, to me, crosses the line.

Sliver24 said...

You're right about what you're saying PMK. I have no time for any of that other garbage either. I also think it's stupid that the fans automatically boo the best players on the other team.

But I don't think it's fair to say that the people who are booing "legitimately" are the same ones booing the US anthem and throwing garbage on the ice.

I've booed poor performances on more than one occasion and I'm sure I'll end up doing it again. But it's important to be able to differentiate between being involved as a fan in the sport and acting like a jackass.

It would be great to be able to take the jackass factor out of the equation altogether, but booing, like cheering, is fair game.

pmk said...

you're right. you can boo - its your right. I don't. Its just a little too flyer fanesque for me. I perfer to just bitch. Much classier.

TK said...

Well, at least it is all over and I can look forward to a summer full of off-ice intrigue.

Some battles are won even when they are lost.

Anonymous said...

Silver24 adn pmk - guys, how old are you? Booing is a right?

When my son was 6 he thought that booing was a right and then he learned more responsible ways for dealing with disapointment.

Ace said...

An interesting discussion with valid points on both sides of the argument. Obviously it no longer makes any difference at this stage but I'd like to mention a few comments from my perspective and then put any thoughts towards the Habs to rest until next year... Living in europe for the last 20 years and having been a Habs fan for many years before that I found this year's playoff performance even more frustrating than the years the Habs didn't even make the playoffs.

What surprises me most however is that although the roster is not the best in the league and yes of course key players were injured, the performance and effort put in by the remaining players was quite worrying.. I think the Habs will be in big trouble next year unless major improvements are made in off-season.

I've always had a lot of respect for Gainey, especially during his playing days but I feel something major is missing with what he has brought to the team this year. The whole carry on with fans booing Price shows that fans are passionate about their Habs and when there are few other avenues to express their feelings diretly to the team the resort to booing or cheering sarcastically (I won't even discuss the people booing national anthems since they do not even qualify as fans of hockey or any sport for that matter). I personally thought that the booing was not only directed at Price but also to Bob
Gainey (I'm sure if Carbo was still around Halak would have been in the nets for game 3). Trying to get a real feel for what was happening in Montreal from europe is next to impossible however following what has been said in the media (the internet is my primary source of information and game watching since although hockey is popular in the UK and France, the NHL is virtually non existent) the majority of fans and the media would have liked to have seen some change after the first 2 losses against the Bruins. Many wanted to see Halak since they had been accustomed to seeing that during the regular season if Price was having an off game. Or some were hoping that some of the injured players, Tanguay, Markhov, etc who were game time decisions would have gone for it anyway if they did not risk permanent injuries and tried to help out the cause even if only capable of give 80% - None of that happened and also Gainey stuck with Price which in one sense is good in that he is sticking behind his self- professed number 1 goalie but in another sense maybe he was just being stubborn and not really looking at what was best for the Habs (this year) after falling behind 2 games to none.

And this seems to be a repeating pattern - last year he bet the farm on Price by trading away Huet for little (in fact I
remember it was a draft pick but don't even know if it has been used yet or not). I think that move hurt the Habs in 2
major ways: 1 - they were without an experienced goaltender to fall back on if Price started to falter, which he did when
he started to get rattled by the bruins and this hurt their chances last year when although certainly not favourites to win
the cup - they could have made much more a run of it. And 2, absulutely shattering Price's confidence by placing him in
such a high pressure situation without even a mature backup to give him some support - and that has carried on for a good part of this entire season and certainly again in the playoffs. Many are quick to defend Price by saying he is only 21 he is young he is learning etc.. but I always thought the objective of Pro teams was to win the championship AS WELL AS groom their younger players for the future. How much would it have hurt the Habs to have given Halak a shot in game 3 and 4? Yes maybe he would have fared no better since the team in front was not playing exactly sensational, but maybe Halak would have pulled one out of the hat which is what is expected from goalies at playoff time. Just look around the rest of the teams still playing and in almost all cases the goaltender (Varlamov, Hiller, Luongo etc) has stolen a game or 2 singlehandedly while making 40 plus saves. Price did not do that. Or maybe just the change would have sparked something in the Habs themselves to start producing. I've seen more than one quote after the losses coming from the Habs' players themselves that this goal or that goal was a weak goal and the team effectively gave up. Price was not the gamesaver in a single game and virtually every game let in 1 or 2 softies.

Gainey himself seemed like his only objective was to make the playoffs and since they did that everybody should be happy - he also looked like he gave up on the team doing anything this year and was sticking with Price to make a point and possibly to defend his decision from last year's trade of Huet that Price is number 1 and is staying number 1 as long as he is around! Maybe I missed the passion watching the game on the internet but I certainly didn't see much coming from the Habs. Even a clearly off-side goal in game 4 which was effectively the back breaker was not even disputed by the team or Gainey (or again I missed this on my internet viewing). That doesn't sound like the Habs of old - yes maybe they don't have the players or they have too many
injuries, but the passion from coaches and players was usually there.

Anyway far longer than I had intended this post to be.... but I enjoy watching good, fast, exciting hockey, and if the Habs
are winning at the same time all the better, but when what they are icing is not as good as it can or should be it does put one off supporting them 100% and I'm sure a few fans felt the same way at the Bell Centre on Wednesday night... And after all, as Carey Price himself said just the other day "unfortunately for me my boss is 21000 people...."