Carey Price figures he has posed in 18 official team photos with the Canadiens, but none of them is as special as the one taken Monday morning at the Bell Centre.
The Canadiens take two official team photos each season — one early in the year and one after the NHL trade deadline — and they also take an unofficial team photo that includes the players’ wives and children. On Monday, Price and his wife, Angela, were in a team photo for the first time with daughter Liv Anniston, who will celebrate her first birthday on May 6.
Canadiens fans have watched Price grow up almost like their own son under Montreal’s very bright hockey spotlight since he was selected fifth overall at the 2005 NHL Draft. He has gone from a young man enjoying the bright lights and big city while adjusting to sudden fame to a 29-year-old father who has settled into a quiet family life on the South Shore.
“I just think your outlook on everything might change a little bit,” Price said about growing up both on and off the ice. “When you’re a 20-year-old, you’re definitely going to be different than when you’re 30. When you’re a 20-year-old, you’re looking to make a name for yourself and you’re a rutting buck, so to speak. As a 30-year-old, you have a family and your priorities change. You’re settled in your home and your emphasis becomes work and family.”
If Price could magically send a message back to his 20-year-old self, what would it be?
“Take your time,” he said. “Don’t live too fast … just enjoy the moment. I probably would have told myself to be more positive in negative situations.”
Price had some struggles this season, but there haven’t been many negatives since Claude Julien took over for Michel Therrien as head coach on Valentine’s Day. Since then, Price has a 10-4-0 record and has allowed more than two goals in only three games. For the season, he has a 34-18-5 record with a 2.25 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage heading into Tuesday’s game against the Dallas Stars (7:30 p.m., RSE, RDS, TSN Radio 690).
While Price was struggling, there was talk fatherhood and a lack of sleep might be a problem. But Price said his life as a hockey player hasn’t really changed as a dad.
“You still get rest on the road, and my wife is really good at giving me a break when she knows I’m really tired,” the goalie said. “She’s a very positive person. She always tries to make the best of every situation. She hasn’t been sleeping very much, but she was never a big sleeper anyways.
“It’s nice to have a little gal pal for mom,” Price added. “She’s a very good, very healthy baby, so she’s a really good companion.”
As for his new life as a dad, Price said: “I think your priorities change, for sure. Hockey is second to parenting. It’s added pressure and it’s also taken off some pressure. I think the best thing is when you come home from work (after practice) and she’s just woke up from her nap, so she’s in a good mood.”
Price’s parents obviously played a huge role in him becoming the man and the player he is. Price grew up in Anahim Lake, a remote B.C. community, where his father, Jerry, was an adult-education teacher and his mother, Lynda, was elected chief of the Ulkatcho First Nation. Jerry had a pilot’s license and bought a four-seater plane so he could fly his son to Williams Lake, the nearest city with an indoor rink, in about 45 minutes instead of making a long and dangerous drive on winter roads.
Price said the best parenting lesson he learned from his dad is to stay calm.
“A child really feeds off your emotions, so being able to have a steady and calm presence in any situation is a good thing,” Price said. “Don’t be quick to anger. My dad’s a very mellow person and I think that was huge for me as a kid.”
Price was in a much better mood Monday than he was at this time last year when he posed for the Canadiens’ team photo after his season had already come to an end with a November knee injury. The Canadiens fell apart without him and missed the playoffs.
“It wasn’t a great day for everybody,” Price recalled. “We all knew that it was one of those pictures that probably won’t be hung on the wall proudly. It’s one of those days where you’re proud to be a Hab, but at the same time you’re kind of a little bit embarrassed.”
Price had nothing to be embarrassed about Monday and his young family has a priceless treasure in a new team photo that they will hang proudly in their home.