Childhood in British Columbia
When Carey was three years old, the Price family moved from Vancouver to Anahim Lake, British Columbia, a small community of 300 people about 200 km west of Williams Lake. Lynda Price, a former chief of the nearby Ulkatcho First Nation and the first female chief ever elected to the Union of BC Indian Chiefs’ executive council, wanted her family to reconnect with their indigenous roots.
Jerry Price, Carey’s father, had been a professional hockey player. Born in Coronation, Alberta, he was the eighth round draft pick (126th overall) of the Philadelphia Flyers in the 1978 NHL Amateur Draft. A goaltender himself, Jerry played four seasons in the Western Hockey League with the Calgary Centennials and Portland Winterhawks (1974–78), followed by four professional seasons (1978–79 to 1980–81, 1982–83) in the International Hockey League, Eastern Hockey League and Atlantic Coast Hockey League.
Carey learned to skate at the age of three on Corkscrew Creek, which went through the family’s 35-acre property in Anahim Lake. Jerry created a rink on the creek for his son. Father and son would skate laps and take turns in net, with Carey wearing a goaltender mask made by his father.
Minor Hockey in Williams Lake
In 1997, at the age of nine, Price joined a hockey team for the first time. The closest team was in Williams Lake, a nearly 640 km round-trip drive from Anahim Lake, but Jerry willingly drove his son there for practices and games three times a week.
Eventually, the nearly 10-hour drive (almost five hours each way) became too tiring and Jerry bought a Piper Cherokee airplane for $13,000. He already had his pilot licence and, by flying, the journey was cut to 45 minutes each way. Although the return flights from Williams Lake to Anahim Lake were challenging (the runway at Anahim Lake didn’t have lights), Jerry believed they were worth it. “Whether he ever developed and became good or not wasn’t the point,” he told Donna Spencer of The Canadian Press in 2006. “He liked to play, and I wanted to give him the chance to play if that’s what he wanted to do because I know how important hockey was to me in my life.”
Carey played in the Williams Lake Minor Hockey Association from the time he was nine to 15 years old. He eventually moved to Williams Lake to finish high school. In his final season (2002–03) in Williams Lake, he led the Williams Lake Midget AAA Timberwolves to a BC provincial championship. That season, he also played 11 games for the Junior A Quesnel Millionaires of the British Columbia Hockey League. Even though he was fourth on the Millionaires depth chart and the youngest player on the team at 15 years old, he recorded a shutout, ironically while playing against the Timberwolves. In 2002, Carey also represented Team North at the BC Winter Games in Williams Lake.
WHL Career with the Tri-City Americans
Price was selected by the Tri-City Americans in the first round (seventh overall) of the 2002 Western Hockey League (WHL) Bantam Draft. Price played five seasons in the WHL (2002–07). During that time, he posted a record of 83–78–18, with a 2.53 goals against average, .915 save percentage and a franchise record 15 shutouts. Price’s 83 wins was the third most in Tri-City Americans franchise history.
Price’s finest season with the Americans came in 2006–07 when he posted a record of 30–13–1 with a 2.45 goals against average, a .917 save percentage and three shutouts. He won the 2007 Del Wilson Trophy, which is presented to the top goaltender in the WHL, as well as the 2007 Canadian Major Junior Goaltender of the Year. He was also named to the WHL West First All-Star Team and Canadian Major Junior First All-Star Team.
Drafted by the Montreal Canadiens
In the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, all of the hype was centred around Sidney Crosby of Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia. Crosby was considered to be the next big hockey superstar and, to no one’s surprise, the Pittsburgh Penguins drafted him first overall. With the number five pick of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, the Montreal Canadiens selected Price, who was the first goaltender selected.
Success with the Hamilton Bulldogs
In the 2006–07 season, the Tri-City Americans were eliminated in the first round of the WHL playoffs by the Seattle Thunderbirds. However, Price’s hockey season was far from over. He was asked by the Canadiens to join the Hamilton Bulldogs (the Canadiens’ top farm team) in the 2007 American Hockey League Calder Cup Playoffs.
In 22 Calder Cup playoff games, Price posted a record of 15–6 with a goals against average of 2.05, a save percentage of .936 and two shutouts. The Bulldogs won their first Calder Cup in franchise history. At 19 years old, Price became the youngest player ever to win the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy, which is presented to the most valuable player in the Calder Cup Playoffs.
NHL Career with the Montreal Canadiens
Starting in the 2007–08 season, Price was a regular goaltender for the Montreal Canadiens. He played half of the Canadiens games and posted an impressive record of 24–12–3, with three shutouts and a goals against average of 2.56. Price was also named to the NHL’s All-Rookie Team.
Over the next two seasons, Price shared the Canadiens’ goaltending duties with Jaroslav Halak. In 2009, Price represented the Canadiens in his first NHL All-Star Game. In 2009–10, however, it was Halak who led the Canadiens to the Eastern Conference finals against the Philadelphia Flyers, with Price getting only one playoff start. Halak’s strong performance forced the Canadiens to make a decision about their two goaltenders and, on 17 June 2010, the team traded Halak to the St. Louis Blues for Lars Eller and Ian Schultz.
The trade received harsh criticism. Future Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responded to the trade on his Twitter page: “What!?!? Halak for two hockey sticks and a bag of magic beans?” The deal did, however, affirm the Canadiens’ long-term commitment to Price.
In 2010–11, Price had an excellent regular season for Montreal and once again played in the NHL All-Star Game. He co-led the NHL with 38 wins, was third in shutouts with eight, and set new personal highs in goals against average (2.35) and save percentage (.923). The Canadiens made the postseason but were eliminated in the Eastern Conference quarter-finals by the Boston Bruins.
In 2011–12, Price was an all-star for a third time, despite the Canadiens’ losing season (31–35–16) and failure to make the playoffs. The following season (2012–13), he helped the Canadiens to the Stanley Cup playoffs but was forced to miss the final two post-season games against the Ottawa Senators in the first round due to a groin injury.
During the 2013–14 season, Price once again posted strong numbers and set career bests in goals against average (2.32) and save percentage (.927). He won 34 games in the regular season and took Montreal to the playoffs. The Canadiens eliminated the Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins in the first two rounds before being eliminated by the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference final.
Price had a historic 2014–15 season, leading the NHL with 44 wins, a goals against average of 1.96, a save percentage of .933 and a career-high nine shutouts. In addition to being chosen for the First NHL All-Star Team, he became the first goaltender in NHL history to win the Hart Memorial Trophy (NHL’s most valuable player), Vezina Trophy (NHL’s best goaltender), William M. Jennings Trophy (goaltender on the team with the lowest goals against in the NHL) and Ted Lindsay Award (most outstanding player voted by the NHL Players’ Association) in the same season. Price also played once again in the NHL All-Star Game and won the 2015 Lou Marsh Award (presented to Canada’s top athlete) and 2015 Lionel Conacher Award (Canadian Press male athlete of the year).
Price missed the majority of the 2015–16 NHL season due to a knee injury he suffered against the New York Rangers on 25 November 2015. However, he bounced back with a strong 2016–17 season. He became the first goaltender in NHL history to win his first 10 games of the season, pacing Montreal to a team-record 13 wins in their first 15 games. Price also became the first goaltender in NHL history to captain a team at the NHL All-Star Game on 29 January 2017 in Los Angeles.
In July 2017, Price signed an eight-year contract extension with the Canadiens. The $84-million deal took effect at the beginning of the 2018–19 season. With an average salary of $10.5 million a year, Price became the highest-paid goaltender in the NHL.
Price’s 2017–18 season began poorly and was marred by injuries. By early November he was sidelined with a lower-body injury, which many assumed was a recurrence of his knee injury from two years earlier. On 22 February 2018, he sustained a concussion in a game against the Philadelphia Flyers and did not play for a month. On 3 April 2018, he made his 557th regular season start for Montreal, breaking the team record held by Jacques Plante. Price finished the 2017–18 season with the worst stats of his career to date: a 16–26–7 record, a 3.11 goals against average and a .900 save percentage.
The 2018–19 season saw Price return to form. He tallied his 290th career victory as a Montreal Canadien with a 3–0 shutout win over Boston on 27 October 2018. The win placed him second all-time among Canadiens goaltenders, 24 games behind Plante and one ahead of Patrick Roy. Price was named to the NHL All-Star Game for the sixth time in his career, though he chose not to play due to a persistent lower-body injury. His stat line at the all-star break, a 20–13–4 record with a 2.56 goals against average and .915 save percentage, was consistent with his career peak.
Price has represented Team Canada at the IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship, IIHF World Junior Championship, Olympic Winter Games and World Cup of Hockey. He won gold medals with the Canadian men’s team at the 2007 IIHF Ice Hockey World Junior Championship in Leksand, Sweden, the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, and the 2016 World Cup of Hockey in Toronto. Price also won a silver medal for Canada at the 2005 IIHF World U18 Championship in Plzen, Czech Republic.
At the 2007 IIHF Ice Hockey Junior World Championship, Price posted a record of 6–0 with a goals against average of 1.14, a save percentage of .961 and two shutouts. The most memorable game in the tournament came in the semi-final on 3 January 2007 in a 2–1 Canada win over the United States. Price stopped Patrick Kane twice and Peter Mueller in the shootout in the Canadian victory. He was named the best goalkeeper and most valuable player of the tournament.
At the 2014 Olympic Winter Games, Price won all five games he played and posted a goals against average of 0.60, a save percentage of .972 and two shutouts. Price shut out the United States 1–0 in the semi-final and Sweden 3–0 in the gold-medal game. He was named the top goaltender of the tournament.
At the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, Price posted a record of 5–0, a goals against average of 1.40 and a save percentage of .957. He also recorded a shutout in the tournament’s opening game on 17 September 2016, when Canada beat the Czech Republic 6–0.
First Nations Role Model
Price takes pride in serving as an active role model for Indigenous youth in Canada. While accepting the Vezina Trophy at the 2015 NHL Awards in Las Vegas, he said, “I would like to take a moment to encourage First Nations youth. People would say it's very improbable that I'd make it to this point in my life. I made it here because I wasn't discouraged. I worked hard to get here, took advantage of every opportunity that I had. And I would really like to encourage First Nations youth to be leaders in their communities. Be proud of your heritage, and don't be discouraged from the improbable.” Price also received an Indspire Award in the sports category in 2016.
In 2014, Price was honoured by the Montreal Canadiens with the Jean Béliveau Trophy, which recognizes a Canadiens player for his “outstanding charity work and community involvement.”
He and his wife, Angela, are involved in several programs, including the Stick with School program; the Breakfast Club of Canada, where Price has been an ambassador for First Nations kids and helped provide more than 10,000 meals to children in Anahim Lake; and the Carson Kolzig Foundation, which helps families affected by autism.
In 2015, Price also donated $10,000 worth of hockey equipment to youth in the community of Williams Lake through the Williams Lake Minor Hockey Association, the Boys and Girls Club in Williams Lake and District, KidSport, Canadian Tire Jumpstart, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada and three First Nations communities.
- Del Wilson Trophy (best goaltender), Western Hockey League (2007)
- Canadian Major Junior Goaltender of the Year, Canadian Hockey League (2007)
- Jack A. Butterfield Trophy (Calder Cup MVP), American Hockey League (2007)
- Best Goaltender at Winter Olympic Games, International Ice Hockey Federation (2014)
- Hart Memorial Trophy (MVP), National Hockey League (2015)
- Vezina Trophy (best goaltender), National Hockey League (2015)
- William M. Jennings Trophy (goaltender on team allowing fewest goals; shared with Corey Crawford), National Hockey League (2015)
- Ted Lindsay Award (most outstanding player) NHL Players’ Association (2015)
- Lou Marsh Award (2015)
- Lionel Conacher Award (2015)
- Indspire Award – Sports (2016)