As uncertainty swirls around the sports world, players’ concerns about resuming their seasons is a very real issue. They’re being asked to relocate, for an unknown amount of time, to pursue re-starting a season that may or may not be possible. Canadiens’ goalie Carey Price is in an interesting case, he’s a father of young children — and a pregnant wife, and from statements made last week, does not feel like “Michael Jordan in ‘98 levels of having motivation to win”.
One of the best goaltenders in the world remains in the U.S. across the continent from Montreal 15 days before NHL camps are supposed to begin and Canada has a mandatory 14-day quarantine. Here's Carey Price on Canadiens call earlier about his uncertainties: pic.twitter.com/1GNoy76gc1— Stephen Whyno (@SWhyno) June 25, 2020
Price has been in Washington state, his wife’s home area, for the whole quarantine since March. His kicker quote from last week about his confidence in the season restarting:
“I have I think about an equal amount of optimism and pessimism. It’s a very unusual situation. I want the opportunity to be able to play for a Stanley Cup, but I want to be able to continue living life normally.”
Given the state of the world, that’s not a bad attitude to have. The ability to not be exposed to a virus, or threaten to be a carrier for it is a totally fine ask.
However, it’s an ask teams and leagues are going to be making. In baseball, we’re seeing players like Washington’s Ryan Zimmerman and Joe Ross announce they are not going to play or join their teams at all this season. Back in hockey, it’s interesting since in some quarters Carey Price was considered some bugaboo goalie that no one wanted to see. Instead, it looks like Price doesn’t even want to really be there and isn’t going to have his heart in it if he does (which again, tough to blame given the events of this year). League commenter Pierre McGuire even said today on 93.7 The Fan radio in Pittsburgh he thinks it more likely than not that Price won’t be around.
Pierre McGuire on @937theFan: "I think it's 40/60 Carey Price plays for Montreal in this tournament." Wow.— Andrew Fillipponi (@ThePoniExpress) June 29, 2020
Then again, as Sean Gentille pointed out, this may not be accurate. Supposedly Price’s wife posted on social media about him leaving for Montreal today, so he might already be in the mechanics of getting back to business, even though Phase 3 training camps are scheduled to start on July 10th, and Canada still has a 14-day quarantine law that would have Price out until about July 13th at this point.
Will any of this make a difference? It’s tough to say right now. For the very narrow focus regarding the Penguins and their upcoming series with Montreal, this will be interesting to track. Maybe Price gets back to work, gets his focus and dials in on playing great hockey. He’s a professional and a top competitor, so that’s possible.
Then again, not really since Daniel Alfredsson and his infamous “probably not” answer while down in the series have we seen a leader go up against the Pens with either a defeatist attitude, lack of ambition, or focus on winning not 100% on their side. Then again, we don’t really know the mindset or drive of the Pens’ players either, who naturally will be just as concerned about the league’s setup, ideas and precautions. But for as important a player as Price will be in a five-game series, his motivation, ability and fitness will be a huge inflection point. At this point, understandably, he’s able to admit hockey might not be the most important thing in the world.