Montreal Canadiens: The Real Meaning Behind the Carey Price Expansion Situation

Jul 2, 2021; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) makes a glove save against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the third period in game three of the 2021 Stanley Cup Final at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 2, 2021; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) makes a glove save against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the third period in game three of the 2021 Stanley Cup Final at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports /

On Saturday evening, it was announced that Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price had waived his no-movement clause (NMC), for the purpose of being left exposed in the upcoming Seattle Kraken expansion draft. Many have been quick to call for general manager Marc Bergevin’s head, and in the midst of what was a chaotic day for the NHL – Canadiens fans and the hockey media landscape may be missing the bigger picture surrounding Price and his hockey future.

In typical Montreal fashion, the Canadiens’ fresh offseason has been nothing short of tumultuous thus far. As the calendar turns day by day, compelling rumours are inaugurated, thought-provoking debates are sparked, and in Saturday’s case – a major headline breaks the internet.

Canadiens fans have already been put through the ringer this offseason – just two weeks removed from their championship defeat, Shea Weber has been announced too injured to play next season, Phillip Danault is expected to hit the open market, ‘Scorey’ Perry is still a UFA, and in a stunning turn of events, Price is every bit a Seattle Kraken as he is a Montreal Canadien.

Regardless of how he played in this year’s regular season, and despite his tremendous contract – Carey Price has been a constant standout in a generation treated to tremendous goaltending. The idea of him playing in a uniform outside of the ‘bleu, blanc, et rouge’, is unfathomable for not only the Canadiens organization and its faithful, but the entire hockey community.

The soon-to-be 34-year old netminder has spent the entirety of his 14-year career in Montreal after being drafted fifth overall in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. In that span, he has won a Hart trophy, Vezina trophy, and Ted Lindsay trophy – all while amassing the most goaltender wins in the Canadiens storied history, that includes the likes of hall-of-fame goaltenders Patrick Roy, Ken Dryden, and Jacques Plante.

Montreal Canadiens, Carey Price
OTTAWA, ONT – JULY 30: Fifth overall draft pick Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens poses with team general manager Bob Gainey (L) and director of player personnel Trevor Timmins (R) after being selected during the 2005 National Hockey League Draft on July 30, 2005 at the Westin Hotel in Ottawa, Canada. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

On the surface, it seems as if Montreal has treated Price considerably – after selecting him as the face of their franchise 16 years ago, he has been fortunate enough to become one of the Canadiens’ most decorated goaltenders. However, if you read ever so discreetly between the lines, Carey Price has born the burden of an organization that has failed to build a championship roster around a goaltender who at times, has been regarded as the undisputed greatest in the world.

During the Carey Price era, the Canadiens have only had three seasons where their leading scorer surpassed 70 points – one of which was Price’s rookie season. Simultaneously, the team has yet to see any skater score 40 goals since Price first joined the team in 2007. Most notably, the 2014-2015 season saw the Canadiens finish second in the league standings despite their leading point scorer totalling just 67 points, and the team scoring a mere 2.67 goals per game.

Since that season, the Canadiens’ goal per game number has only somewhat improved, standing at 2.76 in 455 games played – yet, Price has never once complained, never demanded improvement, or desired to leave the team that made his dreams come true so many years ago. The most recent example came during their recent playoff run – the Canadiens scored a total of two goals between games two and four of their first-round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs – a drought that dug them a 3-1 hole in the series up to that point. Nonetheless, Price had only this to say while his team trailed their arch-rivals.

"“I’m not frustrated at all, to be honest,” he said. “These guys are talented guys. I see their shots in practice every day. I have no doubt that they have the ability to score goals. They’re trying out there, I know they are. It’s going to come. They’re playing some pretty solid defence on their side, but we’re going to find a way through that.”"

Like it always seems to be in the net, Price’s confidence was once again warranted, as the Canadiens scored ten goals in the next three games, beating the Leafs in seven games and sparking a run that saw Price play in the first Stanley Cup Final of an illustrious career. Unfortunately, the Canadians fell to the Tampa Bay Lightning in five games – scoring just two goals in three games on the road, including getting shutout in the deciding Game 5. Below was Price’s reaction to the loss – in spite of losing what may end up being his first and last shot at the Stanley Cup in his career, he put the ownness on himself and wished he had played better for his teammates.

“At the end of the day, I just don’t think I played well enough at the start of the series.”

Carey Price has put aside multiple injuries, the constant ridicule that comes with bearing the pressure of the Bell Centre’s home-side crease, and at times, a lackadaisical effort from the organization to surround him with championship-level talent, to battle with his heart on his sleeve, and the ‘CH’ on his jersey, every time he takes the ice. Price has done so with the utmost respect for his teammates, coaches, managers, and the franchise itself, at the expense of what could be a career capped without a Stanley Cup.

After the final buzzer went in Game 5 and Price exited the post-game podium one last time this season, taking his emotions to Instagram, to pay tribute to this year’s Canadiens’ team – posting a slide of ten photos, captioned with a passionate note.

"“Thank you to everyone who supported us throughout this journey. I am honoured to have battled with these guys and against the teams we faced. It was all left on the ice.”"

Although the past 16 years of Canadiens hockey has been all about Carey Price, he has never made that the case for himself until quite possibly on Saturday night when he was left exposed for this week’s expansion draft. If that’s the case, the reason behind that decision would undoubtedly make sense for himself, and his family – but in typical Price fashion, he might just have chosen to do so as a sprinkle of support for his team once again.

Amidst the chaos of Price waiving his NMC, it has been announced that he is not only nursing a hip and knee injury that could hold him out of the start of next season, but it’s also been reported that one of his best friends and valued teammates, Shea Weber, is expected to miss all of next season and possibly longer with an injured foot, ankle, and thumb.

Away from the rink, Price grew up just north of Seattle in British Columbia. As he pursued his dream of playing in the NHL, Price played for the Tri-City Americans of the Western Hockey League (WHL), living in Washington State, home of the Seattle Kraken, for the better part of a few years. It was there that Price met his now-wife, Angela, whose family is from Washington State – a place where the couple and their children lived during last year’s offseason. There’s no hiding that Price has close ties to the North-West Coast of the United States and a move to Seattle would bring him closer to not only his own hometown but also his wife’s.

These factors alone, or quite possibly a handful of others (as mentioned above) could very well be enough for Price to have been convinced to waive his NMC, but it shouldn’t be overlooked that Price may have chosen to make that decision for the future of the Montreal Canadiens – a possible final token of his gratitude regardless of how little he has left to prove about not only his on-ice play but leadership abilities.

Carey Price understands the magnitude of an injury to the hip or knee on a goaltender’s career, especially when that goaltender is scheduled to turn 34-years old in less than a month. At this point in his career, Price’s prime is behind him and although he looked like his vintage self this postseason, there is no guaranteeing he could repeat that performance depending on the seriousness of his injuries and of course, the fact that he is only getting older.

This regular season, Price wasn’t himself while he battled a lower-body injury for much of the season. While he was sidelined, fellow goaltender Jake Allen was the most valuable player for the Canadiens and without him, the Canadiens would never have made the playoffs, let alone enjoyed a Cinderella run that took them all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals. Allen proved during the regular season to be one of the Canadiens’ many bright spots, including the likes of young stars Nick Suzuki, Cole Caufield, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, and Alexander Romanov.

The Montreal Canadiens’ future is now and unfortunately for Price, he’s been the Canadiens goalie of the past 16 years. The future first ballot hall-of-famer’s best playing days could be in question with the emergence of another injury report and his contract could eventually stunt the growth of the Canadiens current budding stars. These influential factors, coupled with the loss of beloved teammate Shea Weber to injury, Seattle checking all the boxes in terms of location, and Price being the stable leader that he is, make it believable that the decision for Price to waive his NMC was no ones but his own.

Carey Price being left exposed for the expansion draft is a way for him to not only look out for himself but it’s also another example of how much the Montreal Canadiens mean to him. Marc Bergevin and the entire Canadiens organization understand that, and for what might be the last time as a Canadien, they gave him everything he wanted, as he so truly deserves. The Montreal Canadiens and Carey Price are putting their current relationship at risk for what Carey Price feels might be best for himself, his family, and most importantly, his team. After all these years, Carey Price deserves what he wants and the organization should be credited with meeting those demands, regardless of how scary it may be. The Montreal Canadiens should ultimately be praised for repaying the favour for the cherished netminder and respecting what was most likely his decision.

As a result of that decision, the Carey Price era in Montreal might come to a monumental end on Wednesday night. If that does incur, it will be a sombre night, but it should be triumphantly remembered in perfect coalition to the rest of his career in Montreal thus far – Carey Price doing everything he can to lend a helping hand to the Canadiens, whenever they need him most.

Next. Why the Habs Should Take One Step Back Next Year On Purpose. dark

But regardless of whether or not he is picked by the Kraken, Carey Price will always be remembered as one of the greatest goaltenders, teammates, and Montreal Canadiens of all time.