GAINEY As far as our goaltending depth and drafting a goalie — you just presume it’s going to be three, four, or five years [after drafting him] before you’ve got a player on your team, and so many things can happen in that stretch of time. The conflict over already having a lot of depth at the position, for me, didn’t really exist. I like to try to picture the player as mature, which is at age 23 or 24, so there’s lots of time for you to kind of change your pieces around and get the best player you can.
TIMMINS We just felt, at that time, that Price was the one guy who really had the chance to develop into a franchise player, even though he was a goalie.
GAINEY My role as GM didn’t put me deeply in the recruitment/assessment area. I had given Trevor and his right-hand guys that responsibility and felt that I needed to allow them to make their pick. Price was the recommendation of the scouting staff, and that’s what we went with.
TIMMINS I had to step up and present the final decision, and I did that with full support of Elmer Benning and Trent McLeary, who were scouting out west for us at the time. They were in full support and really believed in Price. I had Billy Berglund, who worked for us in the U.S., and he was an ex-goalie who worked as a goalie coach in the NCAA and at the pro level, and he really liked Price as well. It’s always a group decision, and at the end someone has to step up and put their stamp on it. Bob [Gainey] fully endorsed it. He supported his team.
Many Canadiens fans — and several media members — assumed Brule was the player the Canadiens had targeted with their pick.
DOUG MACLEAN, then-Blue Jackets GM Brule, at the time, was a freaking star. We were nervous Montreal was going to take Brule, and I remember we were sitting there and [former Canadiens scout and current Ottawa Senators GM] Pierre Dorion leaned over to our chief scout, Don Boyd, and said, “We’re taking the goalie,” and we were so relieved because we were taking Brule.
TIMMINS As soon as we picked Carey Price, the Columbus guys at the table right beside us were throwing pens in the air and all happy, excited we didn’t take Brule.
PRICE It seemed to me, after going through the interviews, that Minnesota and Atlanta were two teams that were really interested. I didn’t really have an idea that Montreal was a possibility. They were pretty tough at the combine, I remember that. It was definitely the toughest interview that I had. They just gave me the poker face the whole time. I think what they were trying to do was just get a judgment on how I would handle criticism. Apparently, I handled it fairly decently.
TIMMINS Back then, [the pre-draft interview] was really just a personality/character assessment. What we try to do is get the prospect to feel at home and at ease and willing to talk about himself and tell the truth. I think it was the maturity level at the time that really came across with Price. He was calm, patient, poised. Those were the things that stood out; the things that make him who he is today. He’s an easygoing guy. Some goaltenders are wound up and full of nervous energy, but he was the opposite of that.
PRICE I guess, at that point, I was pretty green. In interviews, too. I hadn’t had any job interviews. I had only worked at the golf course near home. I was just trying to give an honest opinion of what they were asking.
TIMMINS We did what we do with all our targets. We got a lot of information from talking to his coaches, strength coaches, teammates, trainers, and we went to practices and saw his practice habits. When it came to his performance, he was playing with the [WHL’s] Tri-City Americans, and he really made a difference at a young age for a goaltender. Their team wasn’t very good. He saw a lot of rubber over that time. We saw him at the international level, too.
Price appeared in 63 of 72 games with the Americans in his draft year, going 24-31-8 with eight shutouts, a .920 save percentage and a 2.34 goals-against average. And in April, he had backstopped Team Canada to a silver medal at the Under-18 World Junior Championship.
Originally published at https://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/nhl/carey-price-canadiens-wins-record-big-read/