With the NHL All-Star Game just a few weekends away, we are starting to see news of several players dropping out.
While I definitely understand the frustration when it comes to players declining to go to the festivities and the game, a big part of me understands why a player would decide against going. In the end, maybe besides pride, the All-Star game means nothing.
This is why I think it was extremely smart for Montreal Canadiens’ All-Star goaltender Carey Price to decide not to participate that weekend. I am sure that some fans out in San Jose will be disappointed that they won’t get to see one of the world’s best masked men, but it’s not up to them.
For starters, Price has been injury prone over the last few seasons. In fact, according to Canadiens’ general manager Marc Bergevin, he has been dealing with a nagging injury for a while.
The Canadiens cannot afford for Price to get injured in what amounts to a meaningless game. Sure, he’s always been fun to watch in the skills competition, but if he were to get hurt in that or in the game, the team would be screwed.
The club’s backup goaltender, Antti Niemi, has been terrible this season. Niemi is currently 6-4-1 with a 4.01 goals-against average and a .881 save percentage.
Clearly, if Price were to miss time and the team was forced to turn to Niemi, they would be in serious trouble. Sure, Niemi is a good goaltender, but he’s pushing 35, is not as quick between the pipes as he used to be, and simply put, is not Price.
Secondly, Price has already participated in six All-Star games. As such, he’s been a very loyal participant as this is his first time missing the All-Star weekend.
When it comes to being a part of the All-Star game as a goaltender, it is actually very difficult. The pace of the game is a lot different, you are forced to be extremely athletic in most of the events in the skills competition, and you are not playing in a true game situation.
Whenever a goaltender is forced to do something out of the norm, it sometimes ends up impacting them negatively. A few goaltenders have been hurt because of their participation during the weekend and as everyone knows, it severely impacted their respected hockey clubs.
Lastly, and most importantly, the Canadiens are currently just one point out of a wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Many expected this team to be bad this season and as of right now at least, they have had a decent season with a 22-16-5 record.
If the Canadiens want to make the playoffs this season and then have success in them, they will need Price to be at his absolute best. For Price and his hockey club, this means that he is healthy, rested, and focused on what matters most when it comes to playing in the NHL and that’s the Stanley Cup.
Again, I know the league and its fan frown upon players skipping the weekend, but in all honesty, who cares? The only thing that matters to these guys is winning a Cup and for Price, that is one thing he could really use to cement himself as a future Hall of Famer.
Don’t judge Price and the Canadiens because, in the end, he made the right decision for both himself and his hockey club.