HabsWorld.net -- 

It was the summer of 2005. The NHL had just gone through a long shutdown and the draft lottery was being conducted where each NHL team had a chance to draft first overall.

Team after team was drawn in the lottery to see who would select generational player, Sidney Crosby. As the lottery drew to a close only five teams were left and the excitement around the Canadiens grew until heartbreak happened. With the fifth-overall selection being revealed, the Montreal Canadiens’ chances of drafting one of the greatest players to play the game evaporated – or did it?

Fast-forward to the draft, I was rooting for the talented Gilbert Brule to be drafted by the Canadiens. The Pittsburgh Penguins did what everyone expected: drafting Crosby. Bobby Ryan, Jack Johnson, and Benoit Pouliot followed at picks 2-4. The Canadiens would finally land that elusive high-end offensive talent in Brule I thought. Then heartbreak again. The Canadiens in my mind went off script and selected (little known to me) the towering goaltender: Carey Price.

17 years later no one is suggesting that Price was the wrong choice.

Price has been the backbone of the Habs throughout his entire career. It started off in the 2006-2007 Hamilton Bulldogs championship team where he earned himself the Calder Cup Playoff MVP and established himself as the thoroughbred we know him to be.

In the 2014-2015 season, he was simply dominant, winning the Hart Memorial Trophy, William M. Jennings Trophy, Vezina Trophy, and Ted Lindsay Award – all but cementing his legacy as one of the generation’s best.

Internationally, Price won gold medals in the 2007 World Junior Championships and in 2014 for Team Canada at the Sochi Olympics – with the bonus of earning the top goaltender award. Price would follow that up by going completely undefeated in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.

Despite all the personal accolades and triumphs, Carey was often the man who had to bail out multiple iterations of Canadiens teams that lacked offensive punch. Year after year, the defence-first mentality of Canadiens teams put together by multiple GMs and instilled by multiple old-world coaches thrust Price into playing many more games than he likely should have.

Still, Carey continued to play his game, racking up win after win and eventually surpassing some of the greatest goaltending legends to play for the Canadiens. His 712 games played is 156 games more than Jacques Plante, he tops the list for save percentage for Montreal goalies with more than 400 games played, has the most career wins as a Canadiens goalie with 361 wins, and sits third all-time for shutouts.

The rub – Carey was never able to bring a Stanley Cup back to Montreal.

During Carey’s media availability earlier this week, he mentioned how hard it is to even move up and down stairs pain-free. He has not ruled out the possibility of coming back to play again and he still dreams of hoisting the Cup for the only team he has ever known in the NHL. But the reality is that it is a long shot for him to make it back to the NHL. Knee surgery is currently not an option as he prioritizes his family and his long-term health – a right he has earned after years of leaving everything he has on the ice.

If Carey has indeed played his last game as a Montreal Canadien, he can hold his head high and wear the iconic cowboy hat with pride knowing that he played the game the right way. Carey is a role model for young indigenous players dreaming of playing in the NHL, he is an example for all professional athletes to follow, and who knows, maybe one day he brings the Cup home to Montreal as a consultant, coach, or even a builder – why not?

It has been a wild ride for the 15-year veteran and I, for one, want to echo the sentiments Brendan Gallagher left behind. The only right thing left to do is to hoist his #31 up to the rafters of the Bell Centre where it can reside among the greats that came before him.