Halak or Price on the move?
They both want to play, Jaroslav Halak and Carey Price are quick to admit. But they know they’re nothing more than pawns in this game, their moves and futures ultimately dictated in the weeks ahead by Canadiens management.
“We’re both young and both want to play as much as we can,” Halak said. “And I’m sure management will do their best to make sure we do play.“But it’s not up to me.”
A day following their playoff elimination in five games by Philadelphia in the Eastern Conference final, several players were trotted out to address a horde of media at the Canadiens’ training facility in Brossard. Everyone was popular – big surprise – but the most attention was paid to goaltenders Halak and Price , potential free agents July 1st, along with centre Tomas Plekanec , eligible to become an unrestricted free agent the same day.
The goalie debate will be the top question until management re-signs both Halak and Price , or, more than likely, trades away one. And, although both were paid less than $1-million this season – Price, at $850,000, earned $50,000 more than Halak – it seems unlikely both can be retained under the salary cap.
Price, a former first-round draft choice, was long considered the team’s first-string netminder – at least while Bob Gainey was general manager until early February. But Halak played more following the Olympics and carried the Canadiens almost single-handedly into the playoffs’ third round.
“I got a chance to play and was real happy with the way things turned out,” said Halak, who had a 2.55 average and .923 save percentage in 18 playoff games, including nine wins. “Right now, I’m not thinking about free agency. It won’t (be settled) today or tomorrow.”
Asked specifically if he usurped Price as the Canadiens’ first-stringer, Halak said: “Maybe lately.” He even claimed he could return to the team under similar cir*****stances, with both he and Price battling for playing time.