According to The Team 990 in Montreal, following last week’s 4-3 overtime loss to the St. Louis Blues, veteran defenceman Andrei Markov had some harsh words for teammate Carey Price.  As per the report, Markov told Price, “If you are not going to play with heart, stay home. We don’t need you here,” at which point some players defended Price and others sided with Markov.

The first thing to note is that this could be nothing more than frustration after a very tough loss.  Ty Conklin was outstanding for the Blues, but Montreal still managed to overcome a 3-1 deficit by scoring two goals in the third period and forcing overtime.  Despite Montreal’s strong game, several of the goals scored against Price had some odour to them, and Markov had a front row seat to the final goal of the game; he had Andy McDonald up in the high slot but McDonald beat Price cleanly with a strong shot.  Here are the highlights:

I’d also imagine that Price’s demeanour doesn’t help matters much, particularly after he’s played a flawed game.  Two years back, in their 2008 Future Watch issue, The Hockey News ran a profile of Price which related an interesting anecdote about his professional debut (with the Hamilton Bulldogs of the AHL) and some relevant quotes from coach Don Lever.

Just minutes before his team’s first playoff game against the Rochester Americans last spring, Hamilton Bulldogs coach Don Lever was speaking to his team when he glanced over at the club’s rookie goalie to check his body language and determine whether the 20-year-old was nervous.  And there was Carey Price, just a couple of weeks after completing his junior hockey career, leaning back in his stall with his arms clasped over his chest, yawning.  It wasn’t as though Lever had asked the Montreal Canadiens to foist this rookie upon him in the playoffs, so seeing Price suffering from either boredom or sleep deprivation didn’t exactly have Lever bubbling over with confidence.

It’s fair to note that Price recorded a shutout that night, and led the team to the Calder Cup, so however irritating his approach to the game might be, it works for him.  Lever however was quick to note that approach when asked what Price needed to work on:

He has to be more focused.  I think sometimes his lackadaisical personality catches him flat-footed.

There have been similar stories over the years, but the moment I heard Markov’s comment my mind went back to that story.  It’s worth stressing that it’s all conjecture, and my personal feeling is that it doesn’t much matter where a goalie’s mind is at as long as he does a good job of stopping pucks (and despite his unfortunate win/loss record this season, Price does that) but it’s easy to imagine how that attitude might grate on some teammates.  Then again, as I said at the outset, it’s possible that this was nothing more than frustration after a tough loss.

Comments (16)

  1. Some guys play better when they’re hyped from here to the moon: hell, Glenn Hall induced vomiting before every game. Other guys play best when they’re completely lax. As you say, as long as they do the job, and Price’s big problem of late has been goal support, per the Eyes on the Prize posts you’ve been linking.

  2. It’s hip right now to jump all over Price for the Canadiens struggles. As a Habs fan I actually watch each Habs game (imagine that). Price hasn’t played poorly this year. Besides 2 bad goals on high shots deflected into his own net, he really hasn’t cost the team any wins. Montreal really isn’t that good a team. All the Halak vs Price talk is topical conjecture. Yes, Halak has played well. Price has played better than his poor record suggests. But talk of trading Carey is premature. I know that this blog loves inexpensive goalies. Both are playing on entry-level contracts. This is no albatross that will ruin the future of the club (see Gomez, Scott). I personally see more upside with Price; his junior resume is/was remarkable. I love that Halak has played well enough to make it a controversy, thereby increasing his possible trade value. Because if they continue to lose the mob will demand something be done.

    I’ve said it before. Halak and both Kostitsyns for Mike Richards. One can hope.

    Jonathan, could you post on Goal Support For, and Shutouts Against, for NHL goalies. Am I right to believe that the Habs are hanging both keepers out to dry?

  3. Anyone who doesn’t think there’s a big difference between the AHL and the NHL should look at the Jack Butterfield winner’s list before Price. Nearly all goalies, nearly all duds in the NHL.

    I’d suggest that where a lax attitude saw him cruise through with lesser competition, it is catching up with him now.

    For one thing, what’s this about him being a good puck hander. maybe in junior, maybe in practice, not in NHL games on my watch. He faces the same gap when facing the best shooters, it seems. Those who can pinpoint shots (high usually) beat him pretty reliably.

    Now I dont know how he has responded to these gaps in his game, maybe he does hours a day working on glove speed and judging when not to come out of the net. Markov’s alleged comment would seem to suggest that perhaps he doesn’t put in those hours.

    The good news is whenever he has applied himself, he’s seen instant results. He just eeds to somehow find a way to sustain his motivation for that hard work. Some say it’s maturity, but it’s more like a bad habit. it takes a direct intervention and determination to beat it.

  4. I have a soft spot for Price seeing as I like him as a goalie and because he’s so young. Has he played like he can? Absolutely not. But, in the end I believe there are bigger problems with the Habs than just whose in the crease. A quick look at the On-Ice CORSI ratings for MTL shows theres only one person with a positive figure (Gionta); which in my book means he’s not getting much offensive support.

  5. I think some goalies try and come off as not caring when things are not going their way. I played goalie growing up and whenever things are not going your way you feel more comfortable if you act like nothing is wrong, and it can be misinterpreted.

    On the other hand, I cannot believe that Markov has the guts to even open his mouth. This was the game that Price dropped the gloves to go after Cam Janssen. I bet that if Markov was on the ice that shift he did not step in to defend his goalie, let alone anyone on his team. Markov is not a leader, or a team player

  6. The biggest problem for Price right now is his inconsistencies. He shows us one game how good he really his, stealing a game A LA Martin Brodeur. But the next game, gives some softy.

    We cannot argue that either goaltender do not get maximum offense up front (except on rare occasion) But whenever a goalies gives a softy, it reflect on how the team plays in front of you.

    I have play minor pro hockey for 10 and coach 4 years more. I can honestly tell you that if your goalie is shaky, so will you. Because you know that if you make a mistake, it might be in the back of the net. With Carey, we see too many softy that might change the momentum of a game. The way he often look in disgust to his D men after a screen goal or any kind of goal tells a lot as well. And I think it’s what got to Markov. When the goalies look at you like your the dumbest of them all, you know that all eyes are on you as well, even if you couldnt do squat on the goal. Markov is one of the most quiet man in hockey, for him to speak out like that, it must have been something cooking for a while and not just 1 game frustration.

    We are lucky( sic) in MTL to have 2 young and good goaltender. One will have to be move for sure, maybe this year or next year. But you know it will come to this.

    We all know that Bob his very protective of Price. But no matter is record in the minors or Junior, it doesnt guarantee you of a solid pro carrerer and i dont think he has proven anything yet. He’s still young, he’s still a thoroubred. But he needs to be more consistent. Back last year, if it wasnt for Halak solid plays at the end of the year, the Habs wouldnt had make it to the playoffs, and yet, Bob came back with Price, 0-4 a swept by the Bruins in the 1st round. Bob was coaching and even when he saw Price struggling, he kept him in there.

    I understand the issue that a young hockey player need to play to get better. But the NHL is not the place to learn, you have the AHL for that.

    Unfortunately for us Habs fan, Bob burnt the way with Price and it does what we are seeing today.

  7. chuckyou:

    Possibly of interest to you: in December, if Price had managed a .933 SV% (i.e. Hart Trophy numbers) with the goal support he got, he would have been a .500 goalie. This can’t all be laid at Price’s feet.

  8. enough of this “hes not getting support from the defense” shit, the guy is just not as good as everyone thought, deal with it, this stuffs happens. I would have called him out too, but I also would have traded him while he had more value.

  9. @chuckyou: If by “not as good as everyone thought,” you mean, “not Patrick Roy or Ken Dryden,” 100% agree. However, it’s a simple fact that a goaltender can only win a game if his team actually scores some goals: the Habs have not done that for Price with the same regularity they have Halak. Whether there’s an underlying issue there or not is another question entirely, but I’m not inclined to blame Price because the midgets at the other end of the ice can’t get the job done. I’d guess that’s more of a luck effect than anything real, tactical or psychological.

    As for not showing heart, hey Markov, maybe you didn’t catch him try to take on Cam Effin’ Janssen after he got bowled over, instead of laying down like he’d been shot. You can accuse him of a few things, but I think he’s taking the game seriously.

  10. To Doogie2K :

    Same thing can be said, it’s not because he wants to fight Jamssen that he automatically take the game seriously, come on…

    The main point here is, why do the team perform on most night whenever halak is in goal while when it’s Price, they dont? like you said, this is an entire new discussion but one that need to be adress.

    Could it be that the player themselves have lost there patience with Carey, that him showing no heart on the ice doesnt fit in the team spirit, or Price always blaming his temmates whenever a goals goes in?

    As I said, Carey is still young, but he’s been in the 3rd year in MTL and yet, he’s still at the same place with no improvement, hell, he even regressed….

    D’agostini when into a fight agaisnt New Jersey, does that make him a more a valuable player or that he actually care? or just that he knew is place wasnt lock and he could be sent down?

    By the way, on the Jansen hit, Price at no reason to come out of his net, if he was afraid Jansen would score from the corner, he has a bigger problem then we tough, Jansen is no Ovechkin…

  11. le fan du CH:

    Win/loss records really aren’t reliable indicators. Oilers fans have some close experience with this – back in 2005-06 Dwayne Roloson had a miserable win/loss record with Minnesota despite decent numbers otherwise.

    One local columnist (Terry Jones) went after that win/loss record as a major cause for concern, but it turned out OK.

  12. To Jonathan,

    of course you cant rely only on win/lost. As you cannot rely on what happened in the past ( read here the WJC gold or AHL Calder cup) to say this player is good or not.

    My point is that Carey Price, even if he’s still young has been presented( and a big mistake was done here by gainey, Tmmins and the Habs marketing team) as the next Patrick Roy. That was the biggest mistake of them all, you just put the pressure of an entire community on a 19 years old kid. Other mistake, bring him in way too early with out a prof or older goalie to teach him not how to stop puck, but to teach him how to be a professional athlete, especially in MTL. Didnt Lecavalier stayed at his coache’s house at 18-19-20. Crosby was living at Mario Lemieux for a long time( he may be there still, i dont know) Why didnt somebody took Price under his wing to teach him all this stuff?

    Imagine yourself, you are 19-20, making almost 1 million a year, living in a city where Hockey players are more of a star then any comedian, actors etc…Living alone. You even got the General manager behind you saying how good and pretty you are, of course it goes to the head. Of course you will think yourself superior, nobody has told you otherwise, you never had a bit of struggle in the minors or juniors, so you never faced the tru side of being a professionnal athlete.

    So your work ethic, the way you handle yourself, the way you react are way off because you didnt have anybody to tell you otherwise or show you the way.

    As far as my own opiniom on his play : he’s a good young goalie, but will be good 2 night, bad 3 game, then good again for 1 game then play poorly for 4-5 games. Any team that has a #1 goalie, expect them to be hot on all night. not 2 out of 5. Even though, sometimes he plays like we think he can, he often let that soft goal in, pretty much every game he had this year had an ugly given to the other club. ( yes, the players in front of him doesnt help)but still, if it’s a shot that you are suppose to stop, then stop it , that’s all, no excuse, no hand in the air in despair, no big eyes to your D.

    This is more then win/loss, it’s attitude. consitencies. He need to be on top of all this, cause at then end of the day, no matter if you are 21 or 31, he’s still making a bundle of money to PLAY hockey……he should concentrate on that.

  13. le fan du CH:

    There’s a lot of truth in that.

  14. Hey – I’ll go along with the Halak & The Kostitsyns for Richards……..except make it Price instead of Halak…..Philly might go for it……..The Habs haven’t had a leader the likes of Riachards with a burning passion in his gut for years……….Where’s the heart, where’s the desire on this team?
    Last night against Tampa was gut wrenching……..Florida wasn’t any better………..This team need’s the injection of leadership that Richard’s would provide…..

  15. Or at least a Captain!!!

    Good job Bob!!!

  16. this definitly isnr prices fault. his numbers are still better than most in terms of save %. but just like what is said above. they cant score enough. and the biggest problem with this team in my opinion is gomez. you cant have someone taking up that much cap space and putting up those kind of numbers. because of him theyre up against the cap with plays like plekenets likely looking for a raise and with young talent coming off entry level contract salaries ( price, pouliot, s. kostitsyn) are some of those worth mentioning.

    another player has got to be hamerlik. he should not be paid over 5 mil a season. theres nothing special about him and he should be traded to free up cap space. especially considering that montreal has to many defensemen… the only problem is that because of thre big cap hits there isnt going to be much interest for either around the league

    instead of taking on gomez the canadiens were probably better off trying to re-sign lang and tanguay, both of which combined arent as big a cap hit… and they coulda signed kovalev back which wouldve been just as appealing to canadiens fans as he was the most favoured player they had… last years team when 100% healthy was better.

    the best thing about the canadiens now is easily gionta camalleri and plekanets… and the surprise impact of pouliot

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