By JD Lagrange – Each and every time Carey Price talks to the media, or if he is seen publicly somewhere, the debate as to where he ranks amongst the greats and if his jersey should be retired or not starts over again. For a guy who is so reserved, calm and who keeps to himself, he sure draws major attention to himself, not by his own doing.
Like most, I’m tired of the debate, but mostly of the disrespect and borderline hater displayed towards the best player the Canadiens have had in the past 15 years! So I thought, why not take the time to put this one to bed once and for all, and go into it extensively enough to use it as a research piece to use as evidence in the future?
You want to know where Carey Price ranks amongst the Canadiens’ best goaltenders of all times? Read this. Remember that an opinion without knowledge is not an opinion. It is imagination.
So statistically, Carey Price ranks:
- 1st in regular season’s games played
- 1st in regular season’s wins
- 3rd in regular season’s goals against average
- 3rd in regular season’s saves percentage
- 2nd in shutouts
- 2nd in playoffs’ goals against average
- 2nd in playoffs’ saves percentage
- 3rd in playoffs’ shutouts
He has also surpassed Patrick Roy in every category except… the Stanley Cup wins. Yes, yes I know, that’s the ultimate goal. But my 55+ years on this earth have taught me that a Stanley Cup win is a TEAM accomplishment, that each player has to do their part to win and clearly, Price has done that.
No Stanley Cup
So let’s tackle that “no Cup” argument. First, let’s look at how many teams there were in the NHL on average during their stay with the Canadiens.
|NAME||SEASONS||# OF FULL SEASONS||# OF TEAMS AVG||CAP YRS|
|PLANTE||53-54 to 62-63||10||6||0|
|DRYDEN||71-72 to 1978-79||7||16.9||0|
|ROY||85-86 to 94-95||10||21.7||0|
|PRICE||07-08 to 21-22||15||30.4||15|
- 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.
- If you go way back, the draft rules were different back then.
- The implementation of a hard salary cap has all but killed the dynasty era. Teams are forced to unload players that they would have kept prior to the cap era, making it more difficult to keep teams together for an extended period of time.
It has often been said that the toughest jobs in pro sports are either being the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys or the starting goaltender of the Montreal Canadiens. In Montreal, no one has ever held that stressful position longer than Carey Price. None of the other great goaltenders in Canadiens’ history has “survived” the pressure at such a high level for that long before. What Price has done is ridiculously difficult and he has shone through it all.
That alone, is worth something. That in itself is a huge edge that Carey Price has over his counterparts. Ken Dryden retired after seven years! The longevity alone should be a huge consideration, and should bring more respect that it currently does to the man behind the mask.
Without looking at stats, we know that the Canadiens have been lacking star power up front for many, many years. But a few people pulled out some statistics showing the type of offensive support (or lack of thereof) Price has “benefited from” during his career. The numbers simply support the theory.
Record without Price
Sometimes, the best way to gauge the impact a player has on his team is to look at what they do without him. This is not the first time that Price is sidelined long term and each time, the Canadiens did not fair well.
- In the 2014 NHL Playoffs, we all remember when New York Rangers’ forward Chris Kreider slid into Price in game one, who then missed the rest of the series with a knee injury. As a result, the Rangers eliminated the Canadiens in six games. Price was 8-4 with a 2.36 GAA and .919 Sv% at the time.
- Back in 2015, Price only played 12 games early in the season before being shut down for the year. He was coming off his season when he won every NHL Awards available… After his injury that season, the team sunk deep with a record of 21-34-4, worst in the NHL during that time span.
- Last season, prior to Price returning, the Canadiens had a 20-43-11 record.
Those two regular seasons put together, that’s a combined record of 41-77-15, a dismal .328 points percentage!
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)
Brendan Gallagher’s take
Asked about Carey Price and if he feels like his jersey should be retired or not, long-time teammate Brendan Gallagher has no hesitation.
“To me, there’s no doubt when you talk about the impact that he’s had, you talk about the success that he’s had. When you came to the game, people came to watch Carey Price play. That’s not something usual. People want to see goals, people want to see excitement, but he was flashy and exciting and, at the same time, calm and poised. He’s done everything to deserve it.”
“Obviously, it would have been nice to have won a Stanley Cup and then, there wouldn’t be an argument. He got us there. It’s hard to say, but it would be fair to say he would have gotten us there another time if he hadn’t been hurt (2014 playoffs). He just did so much throughout his career. I think you look at the names and the jerseys up there… I understand the Cups… people came specifically to see those players. Pricey was that guy people came to see.”
This is coming from a guy in the dressing room, folks. This is someone who has seen from up close the impact Price has had over his team, and has experienced his leadership from within. Oh I fully expect some people to see this as bias instead of for what it is… because it suits their narrative. But others have echoed Gallagher in the past, and more will do in the future.
“If there is one thing I want to be remembered as is being a hard worker and a good guy” ~ Carey Price (October 24, 2022)
So where does that put him on the Canadiens’ all-time list? Definitely in the top-4. But I would place him right up there with Jacques Plante and Ken Dryden. At worse, I would put him third as I have no doubt that if you switched Price and Roy – and the teams in front of them – Carey would have at least two Stanley Cups and Patrick would be the one without one in Montreal.
So you want to hold over his head the fact that Price didn’t win the Stanley Cup? Considering his stats, the lack of offensive support he’s been getting, the draft rules and the salary cap, any human being with any common sense will recognize the challenges on Price. It looks bad on you, not on the player, if you’re using that argument against him.
Don’t ever, ever forget… For the Montreal Canadiens and their fans, Carey paid the ultimate… Price: his health and career.