On Feb. 26, 2008, Bob Gainey sent Cristobal Huet to the Washington Capitals for a second-round pick in 2009, leaving the starting goalie duties to 20-year-old Carey Price heading into the playoffs.
This story seems a tad familiar. Is Gainey banking on Price becoming this generation's Patrick Roy? Or Ken Dryden? Will he lead Montreal to its first cup win in 16 years?
The jury is out, and will be out, until the end of this year.
Some say Price will do fine as the starter, and point to his run with the AHL's Hamilton Bulldogs to the Calder Cup, last year. Others say he will snap under the pressure because it is too much to give a 20-year-old rookie, when his backup is a 22-year-old who has played 18 games in his NHL career.
Sure, Price won his first game as a starter Tuesday, a 5-1 victory where he stopped 26 shots. This victory, however, was against the Marian Hossa-less Atlanta Thrashers, who have pretty much given up on this season. His two previous appearances, he made 27 saves, out of 33, a save percentage of 0.818.
Price will be a top-notch goaltender in the NHL.
The key word there is "will." As most young goalies are in their rookie campaigns, Price has not a strong level of consistency, putting forward a few spectacular performances followed by a string of 80 percent save percentages. This year, he may take his game to next level, knowing he is the goalie for the Canadiens, and be this year's Cam Ward. Or he may collapse under the pressure, and it will be a first round-and-out situation for the Canadiens.
Only time will tell.
In the end, this is a good move for the future of the Canadiens. Price will get the experience he needs so that he can hopefully take the Canadiens to promise land.
Unfortunately for Montreal fans, that will probably not be this year.