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Posted - 04/20/2010 :  15:46:43  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Both Carey Price and Jaroslav Halak enter the 2010 summer as restricted free agents, and will be the hottest topic entering this offseason - What will the Montreal Canadiens do?

Price was drafted as the second coming of Patrick Roy; just who annointed him with this tremendous honour is unknown, but whoever it was may very well have set Price up for ultimate failure by comparing him to one of the greatest goalies that ever played the game - at least initially. "Well, the legacy can be intimidating if you let it," Price said. "You cannot think about trying to live up to what other people have done. Instead, try and make your own name for yourself."

People have to remember that the former 5th overall selection from the 2005 draft will still only be 23-years old this summer and the flashes of utter brilliance have been shown in his first three seasons in the NHL. The first two seasons were a tremendous learning experience and Price showed in his rookie season that he could become an elite goaltender. "I learned a lot about what it takes to be a professional athlete, your dedication ... if you want to have a long and successful career," said Price.

And this kid has the dedication to accomplish great things as he backstopped Team Canada to a World Junior gold in January 2007 and was voted MVP of the tournament. Only five months later, he was named Calder Cup Playoff MVP after leading his Hamilton Bulldogs to an AHL championship. That is the type of history that adds fuel to the fire that a great goaltender he will be. But love can fade and Montreal's fans and media, all famously fickle, were a little too quick with the anointing oil last season, and even quicker with the boiling oil when things went south.

And though he tried to maintain what he had, Price eventually lost his starting job to a unheralded backup named Halak. A player that thrives under the pressure of a city mad about hockey. A player that gets better as the defense breaks down in front of him (he is a perfect 7-0-0 in games where he faced greater than 45 shots!). "I only played one game in November, and that was very tough for me," Halak told the Montreal Gazette. "But I worked hard to get better and I've found some success."

That success saw the 24-year-old appear in a career-high 45 games and pushed Price out of the spotlight. And rightfully so as Halak stopped 1,281 shots for a squad that finished in the bottom fifth of the League in total goals, end up in the top 10 in the NHL in goals-against average (2.36), save percentage (.924) and shutouts (5).

The exclamation point of this season for Halak came as the Canadiens were fighting for their playoff lives and all Halak did was post shutouts on back-to-back nights. The first was against Philadelphia, one of the four teams Montreal was contending with for the last few playoff spots, and then against Buffalo, the Northeast Division champ with Olympic MVP Ryan Miller in net. "I think everyone deserves credit for these two shutouts," Halak said.

That kind of humility and team-first attitude was no doubt a factor that led the Montreal chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association to name Halak as the team's nominee for the Bill Masterton memorial Trophy, awarded "to player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey."

All this from a young Slovakian kid chosen in the ninth round of the 2003 Entry Draft! This video shows the great side of the body of work put together by Halak, even though all peopl have to do is tune into the 2009-10 playoffs and watch him against the #1 seed Washington Capitals to know how good he is:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U8uJ5XrE_8s

So yes, this offseason is shaping up to be a future-forming one for the Montreal Canadiens and this story is developing into the most interesting one to follow over the summer - stay tuned!


Ray Irwin writes for www.SchoolYourPool.com, the most complete fantasy hockey advice website on the internet. Featuring player and prospect rankings and interviews, daily starting goalies, buy low/sell high, injury reports, goalie carousel, and lots more...come on over to www.schoolyourpool.com and Get Educated!

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