Carey Price was running a little late for the second round of Olie and Stu’s Desert Bash early last week, forcing the Montreal Canadiens goaltender to park in the upper lot at Meadow Springs Country Club in Richland.
He checked in, then took a cart to retrieve his clubs, commenting that he needed a caddy and wondered if Bill Murray were available.
Such is the life away from Montreal, where Price had a whirlwind season that included a gold medal at the Sochi Olympics, his best season in the NHL and a haul at the NHL Awards ceremony last month in Las Vegas.
“It all happened pretty quickly,” Price said. “I’m just soaking it all in and enjoying it. It was definitely one of the more enjoyable seasons that I’ve ever had. Not only with the success that we had, but we had a fun group of guys to go to the rink and hang out with every day.”
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Price, 27, finished the 2014-15 season with a league-high 44 wins (a Canadiens record), a 1.96 goals against average and a .933 save percentage, becoming the first NHL goalie to finish first in all three categories since Ed Belfour in 1990-91 with the Chicago Blackhawks.
In February, Price’s gold medal was earned with a 5-0 record — including two shutouts — a .59 GAA and a sterling .972 save percentage. It was his first Olympic Games.
“That was a really neat experience to play with a lot of the country’s elite players and against some of the world’s elite players,” Price said.
Price’s collection of awards in Las Vegas was just as impressive as his season.
He won the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s most valuable player, the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top goaltender, and the Ted Lindsay Award as the most outstanding players voted on by fellow NHL players. He also shared the Williams M. Jennings Trophy with Chicago’s Corey Crawford as the goalies on the teams that allowed the fewest goals during the regular season (189).
“The coolest part of that was being able to spend that moment with some really close friends and my parents,” Price said of the awards ceremony.
Though all of the awards have their appeal, there is one that Price holds most dear.
“They say the Hart is the most prestigious, but in my opinion, the Ted Lindsay is the big one,” Price said. “It was voted on by my fellow players and peers — guys that I compete against on a daily basis. That one means a lot to me.”
During the offseason, Price enjoys his downtime. A rafting trip with his wife Angela’s family is scheduled for next month on Oregon’s Deschutes River.
But there also is a demand for his time for charity work, including the Bash, where Price is quite generous.
“It’s always fun coming back here,” Price said of the Tri-Cities, where he spent four season in the crease for the Tri-City Americans. “I have a lot of friends and obviously family here. It’s enjoyable to see the generosity of the community come forth at this event. I’m always happy to come here and support it in any way I can.”
Though the Bash is penciled in every year, Price also supports a breakfast program in his hometown of Anahim Lake, British Columbia. Price, who is the First Nations ambassador for the Breakfast Club of Canada, launched the program last year.
“We are in a really good position to give back to our communities,” Price said. “These organizations that I’m associated with do a really good job of making me look good. It’s really important that these kids do well in school, and the first step to that is being alert and being well fed. It’s a fact kids perform better when they are well nourished going into the day.”
Price and his wife also do a lot of work with the Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation and the Air Canada Foundation.
“It seems like there are an endless amount of people who come looking for some type of aid and we are always happy to help,” Price said. “A lot of it signing items, giving jerseys and sticks and stuff like that. It seems just about every hockey player has a tournament these days. It always easy to help out in some small way.”