A franchise changing anniversary for the Montreal Canadiens

The Montreal Canadiens called out Carey Price’s name at the 2005 NHL Draft, and it was the beginning of a new goaltending era for the organization.

The NHL was coming off a season-long lockout, and with generational talent in Sidney Crosby waiting to be drafted, all eyes were on the NHL Draft Lottery. But as important as a day it would be for the Pittsburgh Penguins who wound up winning the first overall pick, it was a special one for the Montreal Canadiens who walked away with Carey Price.

That was 15 years ago.

Claude Julien was head coach of the Habs, and their last season saw them eliminated from the second round of the playoffs defeating the Boston Bruins but losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Jose Theodore was the guy for Montreal in net, but Price’s aura ahead of the draft was unlike no other for a goaltender since Marc-Andre Fleury.

Many were convinced Price would be a franchise goalie, but there’s always apprehension with taking a goaltender so high. Most were found in the later rounds after the high-end half of the skaters are taken; however, there was something different here. They went up to the podium and announced the goaltender of the WHL’s Tri-City Americans.

Price returned to play another two seasons at major junior, including a ridiculous run for Team Canada at the 2007 World Junior Hockey Championships. The BC native led his team to a gold medal sporting a .961 save percentage winning the recognition of best goaltender at the tournament as well as most valuable player.

His dominating 2007 year continued with winning the Del Wilson Trophy for being the WHL’s best goaltender and making his AHL debut and leading the Hamilton Bulldogs to a Calder Cup championship, winning the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy as playoff MVP. Everything Price touched was turning to gold, and Montreal Canadiens fans couldn’t wait to get him into the NHL.

Price grew as Montreal’s number one pushing Jaroslav Halak out of the picture and becoming the face of the franchise. Everything started with him, and it came with both the good and the bad.

The 2014-15 season saw Price reach his absolute peak as he led all goaltenders in save percentage and wins after starting in 66 games. He walked away with the Hart, Ted Lindsay, Vezina and Wiliam M. Jennings awards at Las Vegas, and all that did was fuel his determination for a Stanley Cup. That and a Gold Medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

That, unfortunately, has been something Price hasn’t been able to obtain yet. Additionally, injuries and age have kept from him from re-obtaining his god-like numbers from the past.

However, that hasn’t changed Carey Price’s impact on the organization as he’s among leaders in the organization.

Price is first in:

  • Wins: 348 (surpassing Jacques Plante’s 318 )
  • Saves: 18580
  • Games Played as a goaltender: 682 (surpassing Plante’s 556)

The Montreal Canadiens’ success begins and ends with Carey Price. He’s done a lot for himself over these 15 years, and there’s more in the tank to do so.

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The biggest takeaway from this anniversary is that taking risks can pay off for the better, even if said risks are, to quote Pierre McGuire, right off the books.