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    Compromising photos of Habs goaltender no cause for concern

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    Compromising photos of Habs goaltender no cause for concern

    Post by Admin on Mon Feb 16, 2009 1:46 pm

    JACK TODD
    Canwest News Service

    MONTREAL — By now you have seen the photographs. They are making the Internet rounds, which means they have circled the globe a few million times by now.
    These photos are part of our sneaky, peekaboo, gotcha culture. Of that whole silly world of YouTube, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and the cellphone camera. They feature several young Montreal Canadiens players in what you would have to call an unflattering light. Even Ivy Leaguer Christopher Higgins makes an appearance or two.
    The player who crops up most often, however, is Carey Price. There are various photos of Price with a drink in his hand, in the company of various attractive young women. There is Price apparently chugging a beer. There he is smoking a cigarette.
    Look, this is what healthy young men do. (Well, except for the smoking.) They drink, they carouse, they chase women. Unless they’re professional athletes, in which case they get chased by the kind of young women who have calculators where their eyes should be.
    The things Price is photographed doing have been done by athletes since Greek competitors were tossing a discus without a jockstrap. If cellphone cameras had been around in his day, Guy Lafleur would have kept entire websites in business. It’s even possible that legendary Canadiens goalie Gump Worsley had an ale or two in his day.
    That was then and this is now. Today, every joker has a cellphone camera and far too many of them are willing to use the things in order to invade someone else’s privacy. “Hey Carey, look over here!” Look, click, and you’re infamous. It’s a different world — and there are probably a couple of guys working behind the Canadiens bench who are happy it wasn’t like that when they played.
    This is where Price runs into Rule One of life as a Canadien: When you’re winning, no one cares if you’re running down the street in a thong with a naked woman in one arm and a bottle of tequila in the other.
    Lose, and they don’t want to see you sipping a spritzer at a team function. And going into Sunday night’s game against the Canucks in Vancouver, the Canadiens had been losing far too often. Which is why you get these photos going the rounds with captions like “Is this what’s wrong with his game?”

    Look, the Canadiens have had their share of party animals over the years, including the Unholy Duo from the 1986 Stanley Cup year: Chris Chelios and Shayne Corson.
    There was a time during the late, unlamented Ron Corey years when the merest hiccup of bad publicity would get you traded.
    Chelios and Corson were bounced and to this day, every Hab fan in this city would like to have Chelios back.
    Corey was so intolerant that head coach Guy Carbonneau, then the team captain, was traded for nonentity Jim Montgomery back in 1994. Carbonneau’s crime? He flipped the bird at a photographer from Le Journal de Montreal who was snapping away at Carbonneau’s foursome on the golf course.
    Bob Gainey is made out of different stuff. Gainey is not going to make a stupid hockey decision because a player is caught urinating on a police station or getting involved in a punch-up with a pimp in Winnipeg. He won’t deal a player with Price’s potential over a photo or two.
    Still, it’s a lesson to a young man who has to learn just how intense the pressure is in this city and how high the expectations, on and off the ice. There is no job in the National Hockey League that comes with so much pressure attached.

    Price is playing a position that has been filled by far more legends than any other team can boast: Georges Vezina, George Hainsworth, Bill Durnan, Jacques Plante, Ken Dryden, Patrick Roy. Even Jose Theodore won the Hart and Vezina trophies before his game and his personal life imploded.
    The Canadiens goalie plays every home game in front of 21,273 of the most knowledgeable and demanding fans in the game. Everyone in town knows his name. Everyone wants his picture, his autograph, his sweaty socks. Price can’t even party in the off-season without running into people who are only too happy to snap tattletale photos and post them quicker than you can say world wide web.
    Does Price’s occasional carousing has something to do with his game going south? The answer, almost certainly, is no. Before the Canadiens victory over the Colorado Avalanche Friday night (the one that was stolen for the Habs by Price’s alleged backup, Jaroslav Halak) TSN’s Darren Pang offered an excellent analysis of Price’s difficulties. Pang said that Price simply isn’t battling. He isn’t stepping up and challenging shooters. He isn’t fighting to win.
    When he’s on his game, Price in front of the net looms as large as the back end of a bus. When he’s off, he becomes the magical shrinking goalie. He drops his arms to his sides, he goes into a crouch, he backs into the net. He makes himself smaller than Pang. And he gets beaten.

    When it comes to role models, Price can take his pick between the last two goaltending legends in this city: Roy and Dryden. Fire and Ice. Right now, it looks like he needs a great deal more of Roy’s fire and less of Dryden’s apparent cool. Roy didn’t just hate to lose, he refused to lose. He won four Stanley Cups with a level of determination that may never be matched.

    Price is capable of playing this game at an all-star level, of dragging a junior team or a team in the NHL to a championship — but he has to get out there and battle for it, night after night.
    I wouldn’t worry about those photos. What is far more troublesome is that last year, at the end of his rookie season, Price had to be told that he needed to lose more than 30 pounds.
    Price is going to have to make some decisions. Does he want it badly enough to join that list of legends? Does he have the stuff to stand up tall and play the position for the Montreal Canadiens?
    Or would he be more comfortable somewhere else? Like Nashville, where a goalie can get drunk in country bars every night of the week without worrying that someone will take his picture.
    Because no one knows who he is.

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