Justin Cuthbert and Julian McKenzie discuss Carey Price's return to the Montreal Canadiens, and what his immediate and long-term future is with the organization.
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: You had a pretty good this weekend because you had a-- I wouldn't say front-row, but you were in the building for Carey Price's return for the Montreal Canadiens after sitting out pretty much all of the season-- well, all of the season up until this point and not playing since the Stanley Cup Final last July, I guess it was? Again, at the time. Weird right now. But a pretty cool scene, an important moment in the history of the Montreal Canadiens in the career of Carey Price. Just give me your insights for your perch, your view, at Carey Price's return to the Montreal Canadiens.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Man, there were-- there have been fans waiting for weeks to know when Carey Price was going to play. We were at a point where I think a lot of people knew he was going to eventually return. It was just a matter of when.
Was it gonna be on the Monday against the Jets? Was it gonna be a game on the road against Columbus? Was it gonna be any of the games this weekend, either the Islanders on the Friday or the Canadiens game against the Capitals on the Saturday?
The wild thing about the Friday is that up until Carey Price-- until we heard the news that Carey Price was going to play, I was already-- at least from my vantage point, I was already anticipating that the game on the Friday was going to be emotional enough because of Mike Bossy's passing with the Islanders. The Islanders happened to be in town, and Mike Bossy was from the area, in Laval.
So already, I'm thinking, OK, for fans who go to this game, even if it's just for a moment before the game or whatever, that's a way-- it's going to be an emotional scene for a few people. Because even if Mike Bossy did not play for the Montreal Canadiens, you know, [INAUDIBLE] and all that, they-- a lot of people love and respect him in the area, obviously. Was at TVA Sports for quite some time too. Even TVA throughout the weekend, they were doing all these tributes for Mike Bossy.
So I knew, going into that game, it was going to be an emotional one. And then on top of that you learn midway through the day that Carey Price is about to play. So you have all those emotions kind of pouring in. It was a bit of an interesting scene.
One of my colleagues in the press box was trying to, like, keep it together and all that. Like, it was particularly interesting to see people get their emotions up for Carey Price. This is a guy who was getting cheers during the warmups. His face is shown on the Jumbotron, he gets something.
They even changed the little, like, video intro they do before a game where they're showing all these highlights. At the very end they show a little montage of fans wearing Carey Price 31 jerseys. And everyone is just bringing up applause and yelling and all that. It was quite the scene.
And then for the actual game, what was really interesting was I thought Carey Price was gonna be in a situation where he was going to get like tons of shots because he-- like the team he's playing for has allowed, like, the third most shots, I think, in the league. And they're about three-- they're about 3 goals now from allowing the most goals they've ever allowed in a season. This is not a very good Montreal Canadiens team. And for two periods against the Islanders, he did not field that many shots.
The Canadiens actually played particularly well. And then in the third period, the dam kind of broke, and the Islanders are able to get their way through to Carey Price. But seeing him play, in spite of all of the challenges he's gone through, being in the player assistance program, the setbacks in his recovery from knee surgery, and-- be mindful, too, I think he also had some issues with his hip in the offseason as well.
It was cool to see him actually do it. And I know some people are thinking ahead of what his future could be with the franchise, I mean-- I don't-- I mean, I think if people are thinking, you know what, they're showcasing him for a trade, I don't think you're gonna get that much out of Carey Price in terms of whether or not he's truly healthy or whether he's worth trying to trade for and whatever games he's going to be able to play between now and the end of the year.
So I think for a lot of fans and a lot of people, they just need to take it for what it is, in that a guy who has meant so much of the franchise for the better part of a decade plus is now in a situation where he's able to return. He's able to play. And he's able to continue his career and add to a significant part of his identity, or at least restore a part of his identity which sees him playing for the Montreal Canadiens.
So it's a very interesting story that we knew at some point was going to pop up. And it did against the New York Islanders. And I don't know. It's a-- it was a really-- I think just as a human being to human being, I'm rooting for Carey Price to do OK.
And we're rooting for Carey Price to go on with his life and be better and not necessarily be in a situation where he has to worry about injuries and pain and all that. It was genuinely just a cool sight to see him play and to see the fans celebrate him and to see the players at the end of the game, even in a loss, go to him and hug him and dap him and all that. It was a cool scene to see.
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: Yeah, I think your colleague at the Athletic Arpon Basu nailed it with his column just basically applauding the fans in Montreal for how they navigated that situation with Mike Bossy and with Carey Price. Of course, they gave Carey Price his flowers but they were dead silent when Mike Bossy's tribute came over the loudspeaker and all that.
Just another sign of how good, how smart, and how intelligent and how passionate that fan base is i think was one of the stories of that night. Assuming Carey Price did speak, did you learn anything from his press conference and maybe sort of on the backdrop of what we were talking about with him needing this game, or maybe not needing this game, and how it impacts his life and his future moving forward?
JULIAN MCKENZIE: He did speak after the game. And he kept saying he felt good. I think there were some aspects in his play where I think he still needed to kind of get better with. But generally speaking, Carey Price seems as if he feels good and he's ready to go. And Éric Raymond, the goalie coach for the team, spoke earlier that day and also kind of said stuff along the similar vein.
But another big theme that kind of came around and mostly was conveyed through Martin St. Louis, the interim head coach-- at this point with Carey Price, he's going to play when he feels like he wants to play. And it could be Tuesday against the Minnesota Wild. It could be another game later on before the season's over. Carey Price, at this point, even if he feels ready, they're pretty much just gonna let him handle himself between now and the end of the year.
The team even admitted they don't even have a concrete plan of how they want to go about deploying Carey Price between now and the end of the season. At this point, it's just if Carey feels he's ready to go for a game, that's when we're going to see Carey Price play. And I think Carey Price, considering what he's done for the franchise, what he's done for fans in the city, I think he's earned that right to kind of dictate how we should finish this year.
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: Assuming you have a crystal ball in that case behind you, Julian--
JULIAN MCKENZIE: I wish.
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: --what do you think next year looks like for Carey Price? What do you think it looks like in three years for Carey Price? Is he still a Montreal Canadien? Is he still playing hockey? What-- if you just had a hunch that you were going to, if not that crystal ball, what do you think the future holds for Carey Price?
JULIAN MCKENZIE: I think he's staying, ultimately. I think that-- well, for one, Carey Price holds all the cards here with the no-movement clause. And we last heard him address his future in January when he was asked about whether or not he'd want to stay. And he said he intends on staying. But that also was in a previous regime where Dominique Ducharme was still interim head coach.
And I know Jeff Gorton was still around. And I don't remember if Kent Hughes was appointed at that point. Yeah, I know Martin St. Louis, we were still weeks away from him being appointed as interim head coach. But Carey Price in January, just as things were starting to shift with the Montreal Canadiens, was saying that he didn't necessarily want to leave the organization. And unless he says anything otherwise, I think fans and media people kind of still have to take him at his word that he wants to stick this out.
This is a player who, again, has spent his entire career with the Montreal Canadiens and has endeared himself to the city. And fans obviously think very highly of him. But, again, he gets-- he has also earned the right to dictate his future in terms of how he plays, but also in terms of where he plays as well.
And even if the Canadiens wanted to go down that road, where they said, you know what? We think it's the best thing to trade Carey Price. I looked at an article that Pierre LeBrun wrote earlier this week about a budding goalie market that could be building itself up in the offseason.
And I understand that a guy like Jack Campbell could still re-sign in Toronto. Darcy Kuemper could easily still re-sign in Colorado. There are still other goalies out there, like a Ville Husso out in St. Louis. Maybe he prices himself out of the Blues organization.
Marc-André Fleury-- does he want to stay around in Minnesota? Does he eve still want to play? But if he still wants to play, maybe there's-- there's probably a market for his services too.
Guys like Jaroslav Halák will also be available. There will be cheaper commodities for other teams to kind of pick up on. And that means they might not have to resort to a trade with the Montreal Canadiens for Carey Price, a guy who will be 35 in August. And it's very likely the Canadiens would have to retain, if not half of his salary, maybe somewhere short of that, in order to make that work.
Maybe the Canadiens might have to add an extra piece to entice a team to take him. I think there's a lot of complications, and maybe the avenues for him to be moved might not be as clear. And I think at this point, for the Canadiens, they might just think they're just better off just ensuring that Carey Price is healthy and is able to play. And if he's able to be a competent goalie at this point, that probably helps their situation for next season and seasons beyond.
I feel as if, at this point, even though there's a couple of years left on that contract-- I mean, unless Carey Price has a significant change of heart or the Canadiens do something really wild in the offseason that says, you know what, man, like, I need to get out of this [MUTED] city, I still see Carey Price as a Montreal Canadiens player. Until he says otherwise, I have no other reason to think that he would want to leave.
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: Yeah, I hope so. I worry about how this story ends because I'm not sure it can be tenable throughout the full term of his contract. And I would hate to see Carey Price shipped out for-- with 50% retained. A player like that moving out of a franchise that it's been the face of for so long would be a pretty bitter pill to swallow, I think.
So while I'm happy to see it, little concerned about what it might be in a few years. But hopefully he has still a few more years of really, really brilliant hockey to provide the Canadiens and to help them lift themselves up beyond what they probably should be on the ice next season, maybe over the next couple seasons.
Definitely one of the more interesting stories to track. That goaltending carousel will be interesting to track. I'm wondering already how the Oilers managed to get no one as that carousel finally stops this summer.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: I was about to say--
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: But we shall see.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: --I didn't even mention-- I didn't even mention, if you are Edmonton or any other team looking for a goalie, a guy like Jake Allen on a much more stomachable contract would be someone who I think teams would probably-- it would be a little bit more beneficial for them to reach for compared to a much more bloated contract from Carey Price. Or even if they want to look at Samuel Montembeault, who I know, lately, has not looked very good, but he's had stretches where he's looked a little better than what his numbers could suggest.
There are cheaper options out there. And I have written about this. And people have made the point, too-- you do not need to shell out a boatload of money for your goaltender as long as the team in front of you is really good. I mean, the only exceptions, funny enough, to that rule seem to be Carey Price and Andrei Vasilevskiy.
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: Mm-hmm. Why do I feel like Ville Husso will be a Montreal Canadien?
JULIAN MCKENZIE: That's a really-- yeah, that's interesting. That's an interesting thing to throw out there. But, I mean, considering the fact there were rumors that Ilya Samsonov was in the Canadiens' crosshairs, it would not surprise me if maybe they move a goalie out and-- or even if they don't move a goalie out, that something, some goalie, is added to the organization in the next little while that, like--
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: Allen's got one more year?
JULIAN MCKENZIE: I think so. I forget what the contract stipulation is with him. But I have this weird feeling. I've been thinking about it for weeks now, just because they have Cayden Primeau in their system, was like a seventh-round pick. And a lot of people have been priming him as the future goaltender. And while he's played in front of a really crappy Canadiens team at times, and he's still getting more and more experience in the NHL, the road for him to the NHL is still very long. And maybe I think-- I wonder if the organization feels like Cayden Primeau has shown enough to show that he's the goalie of the future.
And if Carey Price goes down, and-- or Jake Allen is gone, or-- and they feel, you know what, Samuel Montembeault is not worth keeping around, maybe they look into getting another goalie who could actually be like a proper transition or stopgap goalie for Primeau to be ready or someone that can just say, you know what? We're just going to ride him post Carey Price, right, and have a platoon-- a proper platoon system. But also they could just keep Jake Allen.
I still don't understand-- I'll say this. I get why teams would want to be interested in Jake Allen, but Jake Allen is a really good goalie. And I think being in a situation where he's a 1A, 1B, with Carey Price, I think that's a-- that could be a good ideal situation for him. But if Carey Price is obviously really healthy and-- but then again, even then, the Canadiens are not going anywhere, right? What's the point of trying to ship off Jake Allen, I guess? But you know what? There's a reason I'm not a GM, I guess.
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: I just think he's a good trade chip and one of-- they did a great job selling their chips--
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Yeah, exactly.
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: --at the deadline. And they've got a couple more that they could dangle out there. And I think Jake Allen would certainly get back a decent return. That's probably why, if it's not this summer--
JULIAN MCKENZIE: That's it.
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: --it's at some time next year. And maybe you can help solidify the position for future years. Obviously, it all depends on how healthy Carey Price is and if he's willing to be in that, and can be in that, for the Montreal Canadiens. Fascinating, fascinating stuff, and a Rubik's cube to figure out if you're Jeff Gorton. The big news--
JULIAN MCKENZIE: And Kent Hughes. Don't forget Kent Hughes.
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: I always do that. I got to be-- I don't give him his respect. He should get respect. He did a great job at the deadline, although I can't help but think that maybe Jeff Gorton was doing a lot of it.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: I have a question. Do people--
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: It's hard.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: --still-- because remember like when we were talking about the-- not to continue on the Canadiens for a little longer here, but remember when we were trying to figure out, OK, because Jeff Gorton is in the position that he's in, whoever he hires as GM we're still going to look at we're still going to look at Jeff Gorton as the guy kind of pulling the strings here. I mean, I don't think that's-- I don't think that perception has persisted in Montreal.
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: Yeah, I think it's probably--
JULIAN MCKENZIE: I think people are obviously gonna look at Kent Hughes.
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: It's probably different.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Yeah, I--
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: I think in Montreal you guys are talking about Hughes. But I find that I just immediately reflexively go to Gorton. It's the same thing with the Toronto Raptors, like no one-- Bobby Webster gets a little bit more, but even in the market, it's all about Masai. It's Masai, Masai, Masai. Trust in Masai. It's not you trust in Bobby, even though there's a lot of-- he's grown. I mean, he's built up a pretty significant reputation as well in Toronto. But everyone still worries about Masai Ujiri leaving because he is so important.
And I think Jeff Gorton's kind of in that same position, where it's like-- it's two people working at it rather than one. But that one, that figurehead, is like someone who really commands respect. And I think that's the case with Masai for sure.
And I think that's sort of the case with the Canadiens as well because Gorton-- Kent Hughes is still a rookie, and Jeff Gorton has that background and that respect, I think, league-wide. So it's probably something that's a little bit conditioned, and I think it's being sort of deconditioned, I guess, in Montreal.