It was the goalie pull heard ’round the world.
The Montreal Canadiens headed into the first intermission of their Friday night game against the San Jose Sharks trailing 3-0 and some wondered if Michel Therrien would start the second with backup Al Montoya to save Price to start again on Saturday in Washington. But Price returned to the crease at the start of the second period.
Then, 6:44 into the second frame, the Sharks scored again to pull ahead 4-0 and that’s when Therrien decided to pull his star goalie. Price, as everyone knows by now, was not happy with that decision and much was made about the “stare down” he gave the coach on his way off the ice.
On Coach’s Corner Saturday night on Hockey Night in Canada, Don Cherry shared his thoughts on pulling Price at that time in the game and, as most people did on Friday night, he made the Patrick Roy comparison.
“Everybody knows you never take a guy out, if you’re smart, during the (period),” Cherry said. “Remember Mario Tremblay did it with Pat Roy and that was the end of him.”
Cherry’s point was that when you have a star goalie like Price, they never want to be pulled — especially in front of their home crowd — and that the coach has to pick the right time to make the switch, which is almost always during the intermission.
“Kenny Dryden in my book said, yes, he got pulled once by Scotty (Bowman) but he never got pulled during the game,” Cherry continued. “Never should a Hall of Famer like that be pulled like that. He is absolutely steaming you don’t pull a guy like that.
“I had Gerry Cheevers (in Boston), Gerry Cheevers never wanted to be pulled. I never pulled him.
“Michel you made a big mistake here.”
When Price left the game he didn’t immediately return to the bench, but did eventually come back out to sit alongside his team for the rest of the frame. He was not on the bench at all during the third period, though, and did not speak to the media after the game.
Neither the coach nor the players said they noticed Price’s glare as he left the ice.
After Friday’s game, Therrien explained why he pulled his goalie at that moment:
“It is difficult because all athletes are really proud and there was a few reasons that we believe that we needed to pull out Carey,” he said. “First of all, there’s not one guy in the league who likes to get pulled out. But I didn’t like the way we played in front of him. We gave up a goal early in the second period. We wanted to send a message to our team and in the meantime we wanted to give ourselves a chance to bring him back tomorrow because he’s fresh.”
Price was indeed able to start Saturday’s game in Washington. The Habs scored twice on Friday, but ended up losing 4-2 to the Sharks.