InGoal Exclusive Access: Carey Price Back To ‘Old Self’
Video: Carey Price was back on the ice with InGoal Magazine and Eli Wilson Goaltending on Saturday and the Montreal Canadiens star looked a lot like the goaltender that won the Vezina and Hart Trophy two seasons ago, showing no signs of the knee injury that limited him to 12 games last season.
If there were still any lingering doubts about the status of Carey Price’s injured right knee, the Montreal Canadiens star put them to rest while doing on-ice demonstrations on Saturday
Price moved around his crease with the same power and precision that made him the NHL’s best goalie two seasons ago while demonstrating drills during two 90-minute sessions at the second annual Day With Price fundraiser to benefit the Eli Wilson Goaltending Sponsorship Fund.
“I feel like my old self on the ice,” Price told InGoal Magazine.
If Price confirming previous reports from coaches and management of the Canadiens and Team Canada that he had indeed fully recovered from the sprained MCL ligament that ended his season on Nov. 25 last season wasn’t enough, then seeing him move in the InGoal video above should be. There didn’t appear to be any lingering effects as he moved smoothly around the ice Saturday.
Price spent the day with 16 goalies who bid for, or won the chance to spend a day training with him, leading a group that came from as far as California and Prince Edward Island through a dynamic warm-up, then strapping on his new Team Canada-colored CCM pads and gloves to help guide them through on-ice drills. That meant demonstrating each drill for his old goalie coach Eli Wilson, and as Price pushed and stopped and slid around his crease, bouncing in and out of his posts, fully extending without hesitation, he looked like the goaltender that won the Hart and Vezina Trophies with a .933 save percentage in 2014-15. Price started last season with a similarly dominant .934 save percentage while going 10-2-0 for the Canadiens, but as good as he looks and feels on the ice, the knee injury that ended that season after just 12 games is still in the back of his mind.
“It is a little bit just because it’s been so long. It’s been sitting in my back pocket forever so I am just looking forward to getting past it,” Price said. “I don’t want to say I feel anxious but I just want to get started. I feel like the build-up has been six months of waiting for that first game and I still haven’t gotten there. I’ve been working towards a goal I haven’t gotten to yet.”
That first game will come sooner this year because of the World Cup of Hockey. Price, who was 5-0-0 with two shutouts and a .972 save percentage when he backstopped Canada to a gold medal at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, will compete with 2016 Vezina Trophy winner Braden Holtby of the Washington Capitals and Corey Crawford of the Chicago Blackhawks for the starting job at the World Cup of Hockey, but for now is just happy to have it as an early finish line.
“It was kind of nice just because summer was really long for us not making the playoffs last year so we were sitting around for quite a while, so being able to get right back into it a little earlier is going to be a lot of fun,” Price said. “It was obviously a long rehab – six months long – so I am looking forward to getting the first few games in, start getting into a rhythm again, and getting back into my routine of just playing games and just looking forward to getting past it.”
Team Canada opens its training camp on Sept. 4 in Ottawa, plays its first pre-tournament game against the United States on Sept. 9 in Columbus, and opens the eight-team, two-week tournament against the Czech Republic on Sept. 17. Price started skating a week earlier than usual to get ready, but said he otherwise stuck with his usual offseason routine.
“I started skating sooner, more intensely,” he said. “One thing over the summer that was a little more difficult was getting back into the gym, just because I rehabbed so long during the season, so all I did was work out, sometimes twice a day, all season. So trying to get back into the swing of things in the gym was tough but once you start building your routine up it wasn’t too bad.”
There was one other hiccup in Price’s early offseason training schedule but it’s hard to miss his smile broadening when he talks about his daughter, Liv Anniston Price, born on May 6.
“It’s been a little bit different,” Price said, smiling wide. “As a first-time parent you are obviously a little bit tired from not sleeping as well as you are used to and you feel like your training is a little bit less intense throughout the early part of the summer. Fortunately for us, though, Liv was born really early so over the last couple of months I felt like I was able to catch up.”
It’s not the only change this offseason. The Canadiens welcomed a new goalie in free agency, signing Al Montoya to compete with Mike Condon for the backup job, and goalie coach Stephane Waite has talked about limiting the games played to around 60 for Price, who turned 29 on Aug. 16.
Price doesn’t seem to mind that philosophy at all.
“As you get older – I’m not old, but 29 is relative in goalie years – you like to see your number of games taper down a little bit so you are fresher for playoffs,” Price said. “By the time playoffs start you want to be as fresh as possible and I think even five fewer games would help. As you get older too your amount of time spent in practice should taper off as well a little bit.”
It’s not the only thing Price is tapering as he ages. Looking lean after a summer that included regular yoga as part of his workout routine, Price said he is down around 218 pounds after carrying 226 pounds into the same event with Eli Wilson Goaltending last summer.
“I typically fluctuate between 220 to 225 but I feel comfortable around 218,” said Price, noting he ended his Calder Cup-winning rookie season in 2006-07 around 260 pounds.” As my career progresses, as I get older, I’d like to start lightening up a little, maybe towards 215 or 212. It’s a lot of up and down in a season, so packing around an extra five pounds makes a difference.”
Given his importance to the Canadiens, some might argue Price carries a lot more weight on his shoulders during the season. For now, fans in Montreal will be happy just to see Price moving his own weight so effortlessly, powerfully and smoothly around his crease again.
~Look for a lot more stories, advice and teaching content from InGoal Magazine’s day on and off the ice with Price and Eli Wilson, including thoughts on his new Extreme Flex 3 equipment, VH Footwear one-piece skates (but not like others you’ve seen), and the CCM Premier Plus composite stick he has switched to (plus a video demonstration of how he tapes it and why); advice on how to play certain situations; and technical tips in future editions of InGoal.
Eli Wilson Sponsorship Fund
Goaltenders from as far south as California and as far east as Prince Edward Island traveled to Kelowna to spend Saturday training on and off the ice with Carey Price, and in doing so also raise funds to help young goalies that might otherwise not be able to keep playing.
For Price, who is from the remote town of Anahim Lake in northern British Columbia, the one-day event is worthwhile knowing he helped raise more than $170,000 and helped more than 200 kids who apply for assistance through the Eli Wilson Goaltending Sponsorship Fund.
“It’s awesome, made a lot of kids happy today,” Price said, “And to help get equipment for kids that don’t have it available to them means a lot to me because I have seen a lot of kids with a lot of potential but just didn’t have the opportunity, and this can help them.”
Price worked with his dad, Jerry, who was also on the ice coaching kids on Saturday, and Wilson to make it happen. Money is raised by having goalies bid for spots in an auction, but some spaces are also reserved for kids that have relied on the sponsorship fund for assistance, and one for a contest winner.
“The last couple of years we’ve been able to make dreams come true for kids to spend the day with Carey and on top of that we’ve been able to help out over 200 goaltenders with financial assistance for camps, clinics, minor hockey registrations, equipment,” said Wilson, who first coached Price in 2005. “So Carey has helped 200 goalies to opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have.”
For the first time, one of the goalies at this year’s event was older than Price.
Kerry Gillings, a 55-year-old from Montreal who plays old-timers hockey three to four times a week, got into the spirit of giving back, arranging for Price to sign the full set of CCM equipment each participant received and donate it to raise more money for young goalies.
“For me it was a win-win-win situation,” Gillings said. “I am the winner because I get to go and experience this and spend the day with Carey, we are helping kids out west through the charity and then having him autograph the equipment and use that to benefit kids out east as well.”
For nine-year-old Ethan Matheson, who traveled from Prince Edward Island with his entire family after his grandfather, Bob, placed a winning bid for one of the spots, the smile said it all.
“Best day ever,” Matheson beamed.
You may also enjoy these InGoal videos with Carey Price:
Eli Wilson teaches glove positioning drill with Carey Price