This past year has been a busy one for Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price.
He got married last August, led Canada to a gold medal at the Sochi Olympics in February, and took the Canadiens deep in the NHL playoffs before he got hurt in the Eastern Conference finals.
“It was definitely a long season, but a gratifying one,” said Price, who said he kept everything running smoothly with short-team goals. “That whole season, it always felt it was leading up to something, whether it was the Olympics, or the build up to the playoffs. It kind of helped me get through the whole season.”
Price was in the Tri-Cities this past weekend for Olie and Stu’s Desert Bash, a charity golf tournament for the Carson Kolzig Foundation, led by Olie Kolzig and Stu Barnes.
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The three former Tri-City Americans helped raise more than $180,000 for the foundation. Kolzig said Price has a big heart when it comes to the children.
“If you are a generous person, it doesn’t matter what you make,” Kolzig said. “He has the perfect demeanor to play the hardest position in the toughest city. He wins a gold medal for a team that had the highest expectations going into the Olympics and he delivered. He is a unique kid. Those kinds of traits in a person come along once in a lifetime.”
Price backed Team Canada to its second consecutive Olympic gold medal, shutting out Sweden 3-0 in the title game — the first in a gold-medal game since Dominik Hasek led the Czech Republic to a 1-0 win over Russia in 1998. Price also shut out the United States 1-0 in the semifinals.
“I had a lot of support from the people here and back home,” Price said. “Everyone has been supportive throughout my whole career, not just this year. (Winning gold) was definitely satisfying because of the pressure that was put on us before the tournament. That is hockey on probably the highest level because all the best players in the world are playing in the tournament. To be able to come through with the win was very gratifying.”
Montreal finished the regular season 46-28-8 and was fourth in the Eastern Conference. The Canadiens opened the playoffs against Tampa Bay, sweeping the Lightning.
In the second round, Montreal needed seven games to get past Boston — winning 3-1 in Game 7 — to reach the Eastern Conference final against the New York Rangers.
Price was injured in Game 1 against New York when Rangers forward Chris Kreider crashed into the Montreal goalie after a shot attempt. His right leg wrapped around the post, hyperextending his knee.
The Rangers went on to win the series in six games.
“Whether you lose in the first round or the last round, it still stings, because you ultimately didn’t win anything,” Price said. “I think our team took a lot out of that run. Coming that close and getting a taste of what it’s like to go that deep in the playoffs is motivating.”
Price’s injury did not require surgery.
“Luckily I didn’t need it,” Price said. “I was lucky and unlucky at the same time. If my leg was two inches shorter at the post I wouldn’t have been hurt at all. If it were two inches the other way, I probably would have had to have reconstructive knee surgery.
“I’m doing OK now. I won’t be skating again until the middle to August so that will be the true test. Right now it feels pretty good.”
Good enough for a couple of rounds of golf, still sporting his playoff beard.
“I’m trying to do my best Phil Robertson impression,” Price joked about the Duck Dynasty patriarch, “but I have a long way to go before that.”