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.







15 thoughts on “Price’s Public Pickle”

  1. Check out Dave Stubbs’ column, in this same issue of the Gazatte, Dennis. He is “IN” the locker room, and has a much better feel for what Carey Price is saying and feeling. Don’t get me wrong; I love Jack Todd’s writing, regardless of whether I agree with him or not, but this column may be a little off base. Things are tough enough for him; l don’t know that it’s helpful to “pile on” with yet another article which may make fans boo him. And, keep in mind, I’m “on the record” on your blog as saying that Carey Price can’t keep being the second best goalie in every series……….

  2. I’m a really tall and big guy. Throughout my life I’ve been approached by all kinds of strangers who make idiotic comments or jokes that I’ve heard about a trillion times (how’s the weather up there? is a good example). Sometimes when I go into a place, I can feel the eyes on me. I see people nudging their friends, pointing at me, etc. It’s extremely tiring and annoying and often insulting.

    There are times I just don’t want to go out because I’m not in the mood to meet people. I don’t feel like going through the same stuff over and over again.

    Not everyone is a jerk but there are many jerks out there and they can make things really difficult. I’ve had my share of problems and I’m not even famous in the slightest or play for the Habs. I can only picture what some of them have to go through.

    Yeah he gets paid a fortune and he did choose this life but I get what he’s talking about (well, kind of – I’m not a Hab). He probably gets swamped everywhere and there will be people that will load him with “you shoulds” and I am sure there are those who will also bitch him out. It can be hard to take.

    I know I might be a little too sympathetic with the guy based on my experiences but I can appreciate his problems somewhat. We sometimes need to recharge and escape and if you can’t do that because you’ll get swamped with people – it can be hard to deal with.

    This is probably one reason why we have such trouble getting Free Agents here.

  3. I’ll always remember a story about Scott Niedermayer. The best defenceman in the world kept re-signing with Anaheim. Someone asked him why he never considered a place like Toronto, and he said he always liked the fact that when he left the arena, he could walk down the street and leave the game behind. He wasn’t hassled, no one constantly asking him about the game. He could have privacy when he wasn’t working.

    That’s a big thing for a lot of people. Sure, we all have problems at work. But when you go home, you can relax. For Price, he can’t go to the movies, go to a club, go to the store, without being hounded.

    It’s also a little unfair to compare players today to guys like the Rocket because society has changed. There wasn’t Twitter, 24-hour sports stations, non-stop sports radio, a million magazines, blogs, etc. If someone went to the Rocket, they were probably nice and subdued. As opposed to Price, who probably has people coming up and saying “You sucked in that series,” or “We should have kept Halak.”

  4. He can go to the movies and the store for three quarters of the year, when he’s out of town or during the summer. Being rich and famous comes at some costs, and these problems don’t always come up every day. I’m also pretty sure people weren’t always “subdued” when approaching Richard. He put up with plenty. It’s fine if Niedermayer enjoyed leaving the arena and walking down the street. It’s not like that for everyone, and that’s the way it is. If a player wants to play the game, never be approached for an autograph, and be paid millions, he might find that and he might not.

  5. Dennis do listen to the call in sports shows in Montreal? Tsn radio etc. easily 80 % of the callers really hate this guy it’s disgusting to listen to, and I’m not even a Habs first fan. Have wondered for a couple of yrs. now how long it would take befor they either destroy another goalies confidence or just chase him out of town like so many others eg. Patrick Roy. The Montreal media(mostly the French) love to scapegoat their goalies. If I was him I wouldn’t go anywhere either. Here’s one for you and it makes total sense,Bobby Lou straight up for Price. Think Bobby would agree to go back home?

  6. Hockey fan, I wouldn’t touch Luongo’s contract with a ten-foot pole. He’ll be well into his 40s before it’s finished. I like Price, always have. I’m a fan. But the team will go nowhere if he doesn’t stop pucks, which he’s paid handsomely to do. Patrick wasn’t chased out of town. He quit the team in a huff.

  7. I have to agree with Ian. Jack Todd’s article on Price’s comments puts quite a negative spin on what he said. Meanwhile, Dave Stubbs’ article provides the quotes Toad refers to but puts it in context – Price was grinning when he made the remarks, which means he didn’t mean for his comments to be taken literally and was kidding around a bit.

    When you read both articles you get a completely different impression about Carey Price. Stirring up controversy where none really exists is an old journalism trick designed to boost ratings and sell papers. Is this what Jack Todd tried to do?

    You be the judge…

    Dave Stubbs’ article:

    Jack Toad’s

  8. Fame can be a pain but the Montreal media, both French and English are sharks and will stir up controversy to sell papers. The fans are not respectful like they used to be and that makes it difficult in any town where the focus is ramped up. I am bilingual and a long time Habs fan who lived in quite a few parts of the country and I can assure you that the worst sports media focus was on the Canadiens, cripes they would have 20 pages devoted to the previous nights game and articles about every player. Making scrapbooks was a breeze cuz a guy could get a hundred photos in a week of papers no problem. I even remember them trying to goad players into complaining about ice time and other trivial things. Carey Price needs to block them out and perhaps the way the season ended and an early exit in the playoffs may have added to the feelings of frustration. Go Habs you’ll always be my team !

  9. Dennis not talking about how you feel about Price,and of course every goalie is paid to stop pucks,take a look at the length of careers for goalies in Montreal in Montreal since Plante even Dryden couldn’t take it, and what were all the factors that preceded Roy’s meltdown it didn’t happen overnight! And he’s french. Plante 10 yrs. wanted out traded for Worsley.Worsley 7 yrs. they got to him so bad it was terrible, And Dryden 8 yrs . And they turned on him so he retired.Roy 10 yrs. turned on him then one night when it got so bad, he told Ronald Corey from the bench “I’m out of here”. Ever since they kept Price and traded Jaroslav Halat I’m afraid the writing was on the wall for Young mr. Price, they’ve eaten up hall of famers for god sakes.and seeing as how I’m on this rant,what the hell are they doing singing a Spanish soccer song at a hockey game? Christ they won’t even sing our …… But they’ll sing that ????

  10. And of course they’ll always be my team too, Joe. I’ve been a big fan since I was five years old, they’re in my heart. And maybe that’s why when I read that a player isn’t happy about this and that, I say to myself that that at least they’re experiencing the thrill of wearing the sweater of the Montreal Canadiens. And then I realize that maybe many players don’t feel this way, that it isn’t like it used to be, that it’s a business and that’s all. And it disappoints me.

  11. I might be one of the few who enjoy most of Jack Todd’s columns and think he’s a talented and colourful guy who pushes buttons and causes reaction. Much of what he says, I agree with. Although when he said Habs fans shouldn’t use “we” when we talked about the team, I got riled up a bit.

  12. Hockey Fan, nobody turned on any of these guys. Toe Blake finally found a way to get rid of Plante, which he wanted to do for a few years, and it didn’t matter what team Dryden had played with, he wasn’t going to play any longer. Dryden was ready to move on. Nobody turned on Patrick. Yes he was booed after letting in a pile of goals, but so what? Does it mean you skate off the ice after being humiliated by Mario Tremblay and hearing some boos, and tell the owner that’s it, I’m not playing anymore? That was bullshit, and Roy realized later that maybe he’d overreacted. Price not stopping pucks wasn’t the fans or media’s fault. And about the ole chant. Firstly, Montreal has a European flavour to it, and that’s wonderful. Secondly, the ole chant is a way of celebrating fans love for the team, not for a rubbing it in after leading late in the game or anything like that. It’s simply a way of saying how much the team is loved, and the ole is a special thing.

  13. Yes Dennis the “ole thing”is wonderful IN SPAIN, wonder how many Spanish hockey fans there are in Montreal? Went and spent time with my grandaughter who lives there and they started singing that tune and she( who studies political science) said she can’t understand why they sing that song.She said she was embarrassed at the lack of imagination as far as that little diddy. Maybe In time the Vancouver anthem will be Dunka Shien

  14. Dennis, I think I’m one of the few who actually enjoys Todd as well. I could never understand the amount of criticism.

    I heard it said once that when fans are happy about the their team, they use “we”; unhappy they use “they”.

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