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Canada goalie Carey Price celebrates following Canada's win over Sweden in the gold medal game at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russsia, on Sunday, February 23, 2014. (Nathan Denette/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Canada goalie Carey Price celebrates following Canada's win over Sweden in the gold medal game at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russsia, on Sunday, February 23, 2014. (Nathan Denette/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Carey Price shines in first Olympics Add to ...

Life will soon return to normal for Carey Price, now that the Olympics are over and he’s got a gold medal to show for his efforts. Price was always going to be the starter for Canada’s men’s Olympic team unless something catastrophic occurred, based on the season he’s had thus for on behalf of the Montreal Canadiens.

But for six days, Price also got a chance to play behind one of the best defensive teams ever assembled – and the results were eye-popping. He didn’t give up a goal over the final 164 minutes and 19 seconds of tournament play, and posted back-to-back shutouts over the United States and Sweden, both of whom were undefeated before they ran into Canada’s defensive juggernaut.

In all, Price gave up just three goals in five games – two on tip-ins, one on a breakaway. His efforts earned him the tournament’s top goaltender award from the International Ice Hockey Federation’s directorate, although Sweden’s Henrik Lundqvist made the Olympic all-star team in goal ahead of him.

But really, the only hardware that mattered to Price was that gold medal hanging around his neck.

“It sure is heavy,” said Price. “It’s a really cool feeling ... I’m really excited and honoured and grateful for this life experience.

“I can’t say enough about that team in front of me – that group of forwards and that defensive line. That was a real pleasure to play behind. There’s no question, their work ethic was second to none this whole tournament.”

Coach Mike Babcock’s faith in Price was evident all along. Some coaches were vague about their goaltending plans, but Babcock set his rotation early and stuck with it. Price, according to Babcock, “is one of those guys, with his talent base, can be a real difference-maker in the National Hockey League and in international hockey, if he chooses to and if he has the fire to do it. It appears to me that he does.”

The only other Canadian to earn individual accolades was Los Angeles Kings’ defenceman Drew Doughty, selected to the tournament all-star team along with two Swedes (Erik Karlsson, Lundqvist), two Finns (Teemu Selanne and Mikael Granlund) and one American (Phil Kessel).

As for returning to Montreal for the resumption of NHL play, that occurs Wednesday. The Canadiens’ opposition is none other than Babcock and the Detroit Red Wings, with their six Swedish Olympians in tow. Has Price thought about that at all?

“I’m just going to enjoy the moment right now and refocus once we touch down,” he said.

Follow me on Twitter @ eduhatschek

Follow on Twitter: @eduhatschek