Dear Fans of the Montreal Canadiens, Re: Carey Price

Iain ArseneauContributor IApril 1, 2010

MONTREAL- JANUARY 20:  Carey Price #31 of the Montreal Canadiens stops the puck during the NHL game against the St. Louis Blues on January 20, 2010 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  The Blues defeated the Canadiens 4-3 in overtime.  (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images

At the very end of last season, I was on your side. I thought Carey Price had an ego his game couldn’t yet match, and really doubted his desire to be a franchise goalie.

This season, I will admit, Price has not redeemed himself as I had hoped, but he is, after all, only 22 years old.

Goaltenders typically do not develop quickly. In fact, take a quick look at the 10 goalies with the most wins this season:

Kipper didn’t win a starting job until he was 28, Jimmy Howard is just now getting his first real shot at the No. 1 job at 26, Nabokov was 25, and Bryzgalov was 27, Ryan Miller split time as a 25-year-old before being the undisputed starter at 26, Craig Anderson is getting his shot now, at 28.

Now, let’s take a look at the exceptions. Roberto Luongo jumped in with the Islanders as a 20-year-old, and was absolutely shellacked.

Even he wasn’t anointed as the Islanders' starter right away, though, and he actually had a lighter-than-usual starter’s workload in Florida at first.

In Los Angeles, Jonathan Quick split time last year as a 22-year-old, and this year is the undisputed starter. Most pundits will agree, though, Quick is not among the NHL’s goaltending elite, despite his lofty win status.

Jonathan Bernier , meanwhile, the Kings’ future franchise goaltender, has done nothing but perform, and yet he is forced to wait in the wings and toil away in Manchester.

Why, you might ask? Maybe the Kings want him to learn to actually be a professional starting goaltender before they force him to be their professional starting goaltender.

The Vancouver Canucks haven’t moved Corey Schneider, despite the fact that he has absolutely nothing left to prove at the AHL level.

Goaltenders take time to develop, and it’s something worth doing right. The PenguinsMarc-Andre Fleury almost became a cautionary tale, but now whispers of him being a bust seem to be a distant memory. Columbus is walking a fine line with Steve Mason .

Carey Price is not even close to approaching bust-status yet. Last night, he stood on his head in the third period, despite the fact that his entire team folded in front of him. And when he was named the game’s third star, you booed him. For shame.

Carey Price may have some ego issues, but who wouldn’t, when you show up as a rookie and the team ships an all-star goalie out of town to lets you take the conference’s first place team into the playoffs? Last night, in fact, Carey Price was one of the only Canadiens who actually deserved to be applauded.

Price was never allowed to mature the right way, and everyone is paying for it now. It still isn’t too late to fix this, though. Let’s hope and pray that the Habs retain both Price and Jaroslav Halak this offseason.

Neither will get us the return we would hope for on the open market. This team isn’t built to win now anyway, even though our offseason spending seems to indicate management thinks otherwise.

Let Price play 35-40 games next season, while we wait and see if Halak is for real. I personally am not convinced. And please, don’t be so hard on the kid; he was the only reason we had a chance in last night’s game.

Iain Arseneau is a fantasy hockey contributor at . Check weekly articles by Iain and John Canario to help manage your team to the championship.