He’s the reigning winner of the Hart Memorial Trophy as NHL MVP, in addition to the Vezina Trophy, William M. Jennings Trophy, and Ted Lindsay Award – not
a bad haul for one season of work.
He backstopped Team Canada to a gold medal at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games, seven years after he won gold (and was named Top Goaltender and MVP) at the
2007 IIHF World Junior Championship.
Carey Price is unquestionably the best goaltender in hockey, and may be the best player in the game.
But despite playing in Montreal, one of the most scrutinized hockey markets in the world, he always seems to be fazed by … absolutely nothing. As he stands
tall in his blue half-circle of paint, it seems like an almost impossible task to hassle the Canadiens’ netminder – on or off the ice – on most nights.
So where does the intense focus, work ethic, and abundant humility come from?
Head west from Montreal – 4,846 kilometres west, to be exact – to find the answer.
Born in Vancouver, B.C., Price’s mother, Lynda, – a former chief of the Ulkatcho First Nation – decided it would be best for her son to be raised close to
his roots, in the small northern British Columbia community of Anahim Lake, more than a 10-hour drive from Vancouver.
The remote community of 360 didn’t have an arena, so Price learned to skate on the creek behind the family home, and it wasn’t until he was nine years old
that he finally got involved in organized hockey.
So with no minor hockey association to register in, and no certified coaches to learn from, it made sense for Price to look up to his one and only
childhood hero for inspiration: his father, Jerry.
“With my dad being a hockey player, it obviously helped my passion for the game,” Price remembers. “I think every kid dreams of playing hockey at the
highest level. I was fortunate, because I had my role model and someone to look up to so close to me.”
Jerry, a netminder himself who was an eighth-round draft pick of the Philadelphia Flyers in 1978, knew exactly what sacrifices would be needed, and took no
shortcuts in helping his son reach his dreams.
When it was time for Price to get serious in the game, the closest team was in Williams Lake, more than an eight-hour round trip from Anahim Lake. So Jerry
found a solution, albeit an unusual one.
He bought a plane.
The flights cut the travel time from four hours to 45 minutes, and gave Price some of his favourite memories.
“That was the best part, to spend some quality time with my pops, and to share the passion of the game with him,” he says. “To be able to have that special
bond, at the level that me and my dad had, was something that I don’t think many kids had the chance to live.”
He may have been young, but Price quickly realized how demanding his hockey dreams were not only on him, but on his parents, and he continues to use their
sacrifices to motivate him.
“There are a lot of alternatives that could’ve happened in my life that would have left me in a different situation without their help,” he says. “Looking
back at it, I could’ve easily been working at the mine or at the mill.
“My parents are definitely some hard-working people. My mom just graduated from law school last spring actually, so that work ethic has definitely been
It’s that work ethic that helped Price go from starting in Williams Lake to wearing a Team Canada jersey in just seven short years; in 2004, he was part of
the Pacific contingent that won silver at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in St. John’s, N.L.
“It was really cool. It’s kind of a whirlwind experience; it starts and ends so quickly, so you have to enjoy it while you’re in it,” Price says of his U17
experience (1-0-1 record, 4.62 GAA), where he shared goaltending duties with Dustin Butler.
“You get pushed into a short-term team, you get to meet some new people and the whole experience is kind of uncomfortable, but kind of fun at the same
time. Uncomfortable being uncertainty, I’d say.”
Even then, as a quiet and unassuming 16-year-old goaltender, the on-ice and off-ice skills that would make Price an Olympic gold medallist and NHL MVP were
on display for all to see.
His U17 coach, Mark Holick, quickly realized that goaltending wasn’t a position he needed to worry about.
“Because it’s such a short-term tournament, we wanted to make sure we were structurally sound and had our game in order,” says Holick. “But with Carey, we
knew if there were breakdowns or mistakes that we were in good shape no matter what.
“I had never seen a kid with so much focus and attention to detail, it was second to none for him. Just the way he carried himself; it wasn’t arrogance,
but the confidence he had, how sure he was of his game, and his ability really stood out. You could tell he was prepared and conducted himself like a pro.”
Eleven years later, Price has a résumé that matches up with few others in the game.
From his first strides on the backyard creek in Anahim Lake, to plane rides to practice in Williams Lake, to World Juniors gold and Sochi success, Price
always had something special about him.
And he’s only 28 … the best could still be yet to come.