Thursday, April 26, 2012

Player Spotlight: Carey Price, the Cowboy

[Player Spotlight Archives]

What can we tell the diehard Montreal Canadiens fan about Carey Price that he or she doesn't already know?  Probably not too much, though there was some good news just yesterday that Price has fully recovered from his concussion and thus may now travel home to British Columbia.  It is based on this news that today we take a step back from Carey Price the goaltender and look at Carey Price the cowboy, providing some insights on the roots of the stone-cold Habs keeper.

To begin, here is a clip done by TSN on Price's favourite off-ice pass-time:

And more Carey on horseback:

Price's cowboy origins come from his growing up in Anahim Lake, British Columbia, a village which, when combined with surrounding areas, has a population of just 1,500 (just 360 of which are in the community of Anahim Lake itself).  Nearly half of that number is made up of Ulkatcho First Nations living on nearby reserves.  The local Stampede is the highlight of the region's social calendar, and thus the foundation of Price's love for the rodeo.

Anahim Lake, a small area hours north of Whistler (or a 10-12 hour drive from Vancouver), is primarily a community based on forestry, though cattle farming, sport fishing, and mushroom picking are also important economic activities.  Outdoor adventure opportunities bring some tourism to the area, with the village being surrounded by the snow-capped Coastal Mountain Range.  It is no wonder, then, that Price has such a calm and peaceful demeanour from growing up in these parts.

If you ever wanted to make a pilgrimage out there in Carey's honour, there is actually a small airport serving the region with direct service from Vancouver on Pacific Coastal Airlines.  You can spend a weekend or more camping and enjoying nature's beauty at "resorts" like this one:

So how did a country boy from such a tiny community rise to NHL superstardom?  Anahim Lake has no real arena, with just an outdoor rink to serve as entertainment and recreation (photo credit for left).  In fact, the village also has no educational institutions that go beyond the 9th grade level.  Thus, for Carey to become the man he is today took serious dedication on the part of his family, with his father shuttling a young Price to and from the nearest rink - that in Williams Lake - three times a week to play minor hockey.  Many parents make big sacrifices to cater to their childrens' professional sport aspirations, but consider that the drive from Anahim Lake to Williams Lake is about five hours each way.  The solution to this?  Fortunately, Jerry, Carey's father and a former goaltender taken in the 8th round by the Philadelphia Flyers in 1978 in his own right, was a licensed pilot and was thus able to make the commute in shorter time spans when weather conditions permitted.

Carey has come an awfully long way to be where he's at today, and I couldn't be happier to hear that he's received a clean bill of health to start his off-season relaxing and training regimen.  For the Canadiens to bounce back at all next year, they will need him at the top of his game, so here's to a great and productive summer for a remarkable young man.

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