It’s simple for Montreal Canadiens’ goalie Carey Price. Family is first. Hockey is second.
Furthermore, it’s one thing to face down a speedy forward who’s coming in alone on you in goal. But, it’s an altogether different thing facing down a virus that you can’t see, that can sneak up on from anywhere, and that can kill you.
Playing Postseason Is a Decision that Prioritizes Family
How will that play out when Price thinks about the choices between having a chance to play for the Stanley Cup and staying sequestered and quarantined with his family and expecting wife? For a husband and a father, the question is vitally important.
And, make no mistake. Price has seen the effects of just how much of a killer COVID-19 can be. His friend’s mother died recently after catching the virus. So, during a phone conversation between reporters and Price on Thursday from Washington state where his wife’s family lives, he clarified his priorities:
“It’s nothing to balk at. It’s a very serious situation. Hopefully, we can learn from this and prepare as much as we can. There’s no doubt we’re going to have another [wave] at some point.”
As a result, before Price agrees to engage with his teammates in practices and games – even if it means not having a chance for a Stanley Cup this summer – he wants to throw some questions at the league and see what the answers are. And the first question is about player safety. He simply won’t enter a situation where there’s a chance he might contract COVID-19.
Questions Still Need to Be Answered
Although the league office and the players association have agreed on a 24-team play-in tournament structure for their return to play plan, the negotiations are not finished. For example, the league proposes hosting players from the 24 teams going after the postseason in what are called “hub cities.”
However, to date, those hub cities have not been named. As well, what the bubble would look like that would protect the players has also not been decided.
Price Is Thinking It’s 50-50
What does Price think will happen? Well, he’s not optimistic. Then again, he’s not pessimistic either. He thinks there’s a “50-50 chance” an agreement can be reached.
He noted, “I have about an equal amount of optimism and pessimism. It’s a very unusual situation. I want the opportunity to play for a Stanley Cup, but I want to be able to continue living life normally.”
He also noted that should one of his teammates or “anyone else in the organization” isn’t comfortable participating in the NHL plans to play hockey this summer, he’d support their decision to stay home. In fact, he said, “I would have nothing but respect for that person. That’s a very difficult decision to make.”
The Price’s Will Soon Add Another Reason the Care
As I noted at the start of this post, Price simply puts his growing family at the top of his priority list. And, he’ll soon have another reason to do so. Price and his wife Angela have two young children, with a third on the way.
Price also noted that being isolated in a social bubble with his teammates away from his family for a long period of time would be a sacrifice for his family and it would be “difficult to leave our families, no question.”
For him, not seeing your children for an extended length of time – “especially for me” because it’s a time in their lives “where they’re growing so quickly.” He doesn’t think with his wife being pregnant that his family would join him in the bubble even if they were allowed. In fact, that’s one reason he’s in Kennewick, Washington. It’s where his wife’s family lives.
The downside of being “home” is that he’s training by himself in the Tri-City American facility. He’s skating lots, but he doesn’t have a player who has the skills to test him with shots on net.
Although Price hasn’t made firm plans to return to Montreal yet, he’s looking into it because there’s an expectation that players would return to be with their teams for training camp that’s scheduled to start on July 10.
Can the Canadiens Beat the Penguins?
Although there are Canadiens fans who were upset when the Canadiens were named to the 24-team play-in tournament because it might not give the Canadiens much of a chance to win the Draft Lottery, that’s not going to stop Price from playing hard to upset the Pittsburgh Penguins in their best-of-five qualifying round. Price would never forfeit an immediate chance to go for the Cup against the chance for even a good prospect.
Does Price think his team can win? As he notes, “We’re fresh.”
And, similar to the beginning of a season, play can be chaotic. That gives his team a chance. Being prepared will help, but getting hot would also be a benefit.
As Price noted, “I know we’re an underrated team” but he also noted the Habs were also “a very streaky team. We’ve proved that we can get really hot and that’s what it’s all about in the playoffs.”
Good luck Carey Price, whatever you decide to do.