Goalies Carey Price (left) and Jaroslav Halak in April in Philadelphia. Club-first teammates, now both get a chance to carry their own teams.
Len Redkoles, NHLI via Getty Images
Have a look here for an interesting look at possible backup goaltenders for the Canadiens, now that Jaroslav Halak is a St. Louis Blue. Nice job by habsworld.net.
And make sure you read J.T.’s “obituary” of Halak.
Stubbs column appears below on how Price sees the deal, through the eyes of Gerry Johansson, his Edmonton-based agent:
Price pleased to still be a Canadien: agent
“Think this would be a bad time,” Gerry Johansson was saying,“to tell the Canadiens that Carey has just signed in Russia?”
Goaltender Carey Price’s agent laughed heartily at that one, stopped at a Tim Hortons drive-through in Edmonton for coffee when he answered a call from Montreal.
And of course Johansson was kidding.
The agent called Thursday’s trade of Jaroslav Halak to the St. Louis Blues “a bold move,” one that surprised Price when Johansson reached his client in the afternoon with the news.
“Carey’s happy he’s still in Montreal,” Johansson said. “Like everybody else, he knew something was going to happen one way or another. He said it was 50-50 that he was staying or leaving. He’s pleased that he’s still with the Canadiens.”
The agent was lucky to reach his client at all. Price recently lost his cell phone, and he was on the way out the door in Williams Lake, B.C., to go horseback riding when the family phone rang.
The Halak trade smacked the Montreal goaltending hornet’s nest with a goalie stick. After carrying the Canadiens three rounds deep into this spring’s playoffs, after having hauled them into the postseason with often brilliant play, Halak had won the adoration of this city’s fans whom he generously thanked yesterday in a conference call organized by his new employer.
The deal seems to once more hand to Price the keys to the Canadiens goaltending bus, having been given them with the 2008 trade-deadline swap of veteran Cristobal Huet to Washington.
General manager Pierre Gauthier suggests he might go the free-agent route in a couple of weeks to secure his second goaltender. Curiously, Gauthier never came right out and said on his late-afternoon conference call that Price now is his undisputed No. 1, though that seems apparent.
“I couldn’t imagine a scenario where the Canadiens wouldn’t want Carey as their No. 1 guy now,” Johansson said. “Carey likes Montreal. He’s always liked Montreal. I think everybody’s surprised (at the trade), but no matter what would have happened would have been a bit of a surprise.”
There has been shock expressed that the Canadiens never once talked contract to the Halak camp since the end of the playoffs, or even discussed their plans for the 25-year-old.
But neither has Price’s team been in the loop, short of a brief chat Johansson had at the recent NHL combine with Trevor Timmins, the team’s director of player recruitment and development.
“They’ve always expressed that they really like Carey,” Johansson said of the team’s first draft choice (fifth overall) in 2005. “But we haven’t had any discussion of any sort the last few weeks.
“Frankly, that isn’t unusual. I assumed they were working on something, and that from the end of the season to the draft (next weekend), something was going to shake down.
“I assumed they’d kind of let us know at the appropriate time,” he added, laughing, “so I guess this is letting us know.”
Johansson said he empathizes with the Canadiens’ hockey department, who were dealing with two young goalies who both want to play.
“Management was sitting there, scratching their heads, figuring out what they were going to do, right?” he said. “I’m not sure that talking to me or Halak’s side would have helped them make a decision.
“The most difficult thing would have been bring both goaltenders back – for a lot of different reasons, none the least of which is money. You’d have to be a math wizard to figure how to do that.”
Johansson reminded that Price and Halak have always gotten along as club-first teammates who were caught in a tough spot of No. 1 and 1a, to paraphrase head coach Jacques Martin’s season-long mantra.
But, he said, “any goalie will tell you they like to have the opportunity to play through any mini slumps. You’re not on your game for a bit and then guess what? It all comes together and you go on a tear.
“With Halak backing up Carey, and Carey backing up Halak, that opportunity is pretty narrow. A goalie needs a little elbow room to have some ups and downs, like every other player on the team.”
Johansson believes that Price handled the end of the season perfectly, unhappy that he wasn’t getting the results his work ethic deserved but “on board 100 per cent, no questions asked, no problem,” when Halak was handed the reins.
Now, the agent awaits a call from Gauthier, or perhaps a meeting next week at the draft in Los Angeles, to begin contract talks.
“We’ve never been in a rush,” Johansson said. “We’ve had to wait for them to get their house in order.
“No extra pressure on Pricer, right?” he added, laughing again. “My new deal with Carey is I’m never coming to Montreal. I can’t take it. But I could hear him smiling on the phone. Good for him.”