Castoff Halak Continues to Overshadow Price in Montreal Spotlight
If you thought goalie Jaroslav Halak getting the Montreal Canadiens to the Eastern Conference finals last spring was one of the greatest displays of smoke and mirrors ever pulled off, how about this one?
Price signed a two-year, $5.5-million deal last week, over two months after Halak was traded to the St. Louis Blues. Still the timing couldn’t have been worse as Saturday Halak came back to town to sign autographs as a final farewell to a city that exalted him as a veritable superhero mere months prior. Not only that, but all proceeds of the autograph session, a reported $20 for each item signed, went to charity. Not a bad final bid adieu at all.
However, if you’re Carey Price, you probably would have preferred him falling off his pedestal somehow instead of his adding to his legendary status in town and all around the NHL. Anything would have sufficed: being caught with a hooker, defenestrating some revered piece of Habs lore from out of the Bell Centre, hell, even taking candy away from a baby (something he arguably already accomplished, wresting away the number-one spot from Price). Anything! Instead, if it was possible, he became an even more beloved Quebec folk hero, ranking right up there with the likes of Jacques Plante, Jean Beliveau, and the dude that came up with the idea for poutine (fries, gravy, and cheese all in one superb dish).
As if channelling former Calgary Flame Kent Nilsson in nets, Halak was magic last spring. The only difference being that Halak decided not to disappear during the playoffs, nearly singlehandedly eliminating the top two teams in the Eastern Conference before the Habs succumbed to the Philadelphia Flyers in five games in the third round.
Now, after a well-documented holdout by Price, during which he allegedly went on strike until he got $3 million per year, Halak had the nerve to add class to his ever-increasing repertoire of skills as well? Things certainly are not shaping up very well for Price in 2010-2011, needless to say. Add in Stanley Cup-winning goalie Antti Niemi signing with the San Jose Sharks for a paltry $2,000,000, on the same day no less, and seemingly all the pressure in the entire world has been put squarely on Price’s shoulders.
There’s little need to cite clichéd Price is Right references as a result of the goalie finally signing on the dotted line last week, especially since, in spite of his small victory in getting the hefty raise (from a base salary of $850,000), Price has played this all wrong.
There’s no rationale in existence that can logically explain someone demanding more money just to set themselves up for long-term failure. If Price really wanted to succeed, he would have asked for less, placed his play under a smaller microscope, and given himself a better chance at proving himself and actually earning more in future years. Now, Halak, fresh off signing his new four-year, $15-million contract, is making more money than him after playing the role of Price’s back-up for much of the last three years.
Yes, Price may have chewed out Sergei Kostitsyn during a practice last spring for not trying enough… admirable stuff, that… sincerely. But, if he truly wants to be the go-to guy in Montreal, he first needs to be embraced by the masses and not just his teammates for showing that he cares. Holding out for an ill-deserved raise is not exactly the way to go about humbling one’s self in the eyes of the not-so-adoring public. All that could have been looked past, though, if his performance last season was that of a bona-fide number-one goalie and not a second-rate chump, who couldn’t even hold the jock of that chimp from that Most Valuable Primate movie.
Price’s stats will reveal a sub-par 13-20-5 record to go along with an inflated 2.77 goals-against average and an admittedly decent .912 save percentage. Halak meanwhile had a 26-13-5 record, a 2.40 GAA, and a .924 save percentage. And, contrary to popular belief, Halak actually faced his share of tougher opponents, posting a 9-8-2 record against playoff teams, including Pittsburgh, New Jersey, Los Angeles, and Vancouver.
Price conversely went 8-13-3, with his crowning achievement being a 2-1-1 record against the Washington Capitals during the regular season. When it mattered most, however, Price choked and lost game four of the two teams’ conference quarterfinal, allowing four goals as the Habs went down three games to one against the Caps.
Clearly, dealing with pressure just isn’t his strong suit. Just one more trick he can stand to learn from Halak.
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Name: John Waverly
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