Thanks to a French radio station from Montreal, a debate erupted on the internet yesterday. They asked: “If Carey Price has played his last game with the Habs, should his number be retired?” Oh boy the variety of replies we were able to read. Anything from categoric ‘no’ to ‘yes, without a doubt’, and anywhere in between.
If you stop and think about it, it’s a very interesting topic. Most of the people saying that #31 should not be hanging in the rafters at the Bell Centre use, as justification, that Price has never won a Stanley Cup. They’re not wrong, but the question remains if, in order to be recognized amongst the greats who wore the uniform, a Cup win is a must or not.
Back in the old days, there were much fewer teams so the odds of winning the prestigious trophy were much higher than they are today, with 32 teams. Further, the draft rules were different back then and there was no salary cap. By having more teams and lowering the odds of winning a Cup, does it diminish the quality of the player or his impact on the team and in the league? Ask yourself this: Had Ken Dryden not won a Cup, would he be less of a goaltender? The answer is clearly no.
So we’ve established that Price hasn’t won a Stanley Cup, a team accomplishment. Based on the individual awards that he has received over his career, one would think that he should at least get some consideration. Look at this report card:
- Molson Cup for 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2019
- NHL All-Star Game for 2009, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019
- NHL All-Rookie Team
- NHL YoungStars Game at NHL All-Star Game
- William M. Jennings Trophy
- Vezina Trophy (best goaltender)
- Ted Lindsay Award (most valuable player, voted by NHL Players Association)
- Hart Memorial Trophy (most valuable player, voted by Professional Hockey Writer’s Association)
- NHL First All-Star Team (voted by Professional Hockey Writer’s Association)
- Lou Marsh Trophy (Canada’s Top Athlete voted by a panel of journalists)
- Lionel Conacher Award (selected by sports writers of the Canadian Press)
While it is not in the NHL, he still accomplished the following representing the Montreal Canadiens:
- Olympic gold medal in Men’s Hockey at 2014 Sochi Olympics
- Best Goaltender at 2014 Sochi Olympics (voted by IIHF)
Further, on just about every annual NHLPA players’ poll, he is voted the NHL’s best goaltender and the toughest to face. This is coming from his peers, those who have to face him game in, game out.
Last but not least, no goaltender in the Canadiens’ long history has won more wins in a Habs uniform (360) than Carey Price. He surpassed Jacques Plante, who is in second position with 314 wins and we can all agree that Price never benefited from having the teams that Plante had in front of him… nowhere close.
No goaltender has lasted as long as the Canadiens’ netminder either, as Price has played 707 regular season’s games protecting the Habs’ goal. Now talk about longevity in hockey’s most stressful position: goalie of the Montreal Canadiens!
Last but not least, Stanley Cups aside, he compares favourably to another great Hall of Fame Canadiens’ goaltender that everybody knows… even in the Playoffs!
* in a Habs’ uniform
So if the question is to know if Price deserves to have his number 31 retired, even if he doesn’t play another game in a Habs’ uniform, even if he has not won the ultimate team goal, the Stanley Cup, the answer should be a resounding YES. Carey Price’s jersey should and will, one day, be hanging in the rafters at the Bell Centre. It’s not like he hasn’t done his share to help his team bring the Holy Grail back to Montreal, where it belongs.