Price’s Public Pickle
In reading Jack Todd’s column in the Montreal Gazette this morning, I see that Carey Price isn’t happy with being a famous hockey player in Montreal, as he mentioned to the media scrum as players cleaned out their lockers.
“That’s one thing I miss,” he said, “just being anonymous. It’s tough to do that here.
“It’s impossible. I don’t even go to the grocery store anymore. I hardly do anything anymore. I’m like a hobbit in a hole.”
I find myself not feeling his pain a great deal. This is the job, one that pays $5.5 this year, then a couple of raises, then $7 million a year for the final three. It goes with the territory when you’re a star in a hockey hotbed.
But then you say, it’s not about the money, it’s about quality of life, and no one should have to be like a hobbit in a hole.
I’ll bet it’s a nice hole, though. And it absolutely must be a headache to live without privacy. But every job has it’s share of problems. I definitely know mine does. Probably yours too. Price’s job just happens to have fans who either adore him or tell him he sucks.
Maybe he should wear a wig and glasses when he goes out, like Bob Dylan does sometimes.
I can understand how it can’t be all that great to not live a somewhat normal life, to not be able to go to the grocery store without someone wanting a picture, but how did the Rocket manage? How does Jean Beliveau still do it? How does anyone do it? Probably players don’t care about fans the way they used to. It’s strictly a business now. It’s not about love or anything as farfetched and silly as that.
Rocket was shy, but he still walked down the street with his head held high, kindly acknowledging the people who wanted to say hi and well done, and who wanted to ask the great man what happened the night before at the Forum.
I remember reading once where Richard was walking down the street long after he’d retired, and a person passing him simply nodded, said hi, and kept walking. Rocket’s reaction? He wondered why. He asked himself if people didn’t care anymore. He found it strange.
I was at an oldtimers game in Calgary when Rocket was refereeing, and between periods I went down by the dressing room, saw Jimmy Mann, and asked him if it was possible to meet Mr. Richard. Mann yelled in to the Rocket that someone wanted to meet him, Rocket came out with a smile on his face, we talked for five minutes or so, and he was everything I’d hope he would be. Just a kind and friendly man who understood what it all meant. And he didn’t live in a hole.
There are some who accept their celebrity lot in life and all that goes with it. Apparently Price doesn’t. Or maybe it’s not bad when he’s playing well. Maybe that’s the difference.
How do movie stars and rock and rollers do it?
I’ll bet when they’re old and fat and ugly, many would give their rusted nose ring and quick tan spray if more would remember them and tell them how much they loved their music or their movies, and could they please sign their piece of paper.
But of course people are different. Richard did it, Beliveau, movie stars, and musicians do it, but Price is holed up in solitary confinement. Maybe he’s in the wrong business. He could always forfeit his millions, work for 30 grand a year at the dry cleaners, and be able to go to the grocery store whenever he wants. Or maybe he could be like others, who only want to collect their millions without having silly fans adore them, and choose Phoenix or Florida when they get the choice.
It’s the easy way out. Like lip-synching a hit record.
It doesn’t seem to be a problem for Price to hit the rodeos throughout the summer and mingle with the good ole guys and gals. Guys and gals who ask to have their pictures taken with him, and shove scraps of paper in his face to sign. It’s okay then, but for those 150 days a year when he’s actually in the city of Montreal surrounded by adoring fans and not on the road or busting broncos, it’s not for him. He hates that.
And if he wouldn’t have made it to the NHL in the first place, he would’ve hated that too.
Don’t worry, Carey, a pro hockey career doesn’t last a long time. Before you know it you’ll have your privacy. And who knows, maybe you’ll miss the days when life was so crazy.