Should the Montreal Canadiens Retire Carey Price’s Number?

Montreal Canadiens fans may have seen the last of Carey Price in a Habs uniform. After missing several months due to a knee injury, he returned to play four games in eight nights. Then, he needed to take time off to see his specialist, missing two games before returning to play in the 2021-22 season finale against the Florida Panthers. 

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The Canadiens’ season came to an end with the 10-2 victory over the Panthers. The next day, during the end-of-season interviews, Price addressed the questions about his health, admitting that there is still swelling in his knee that makes goaltending in today’s NHL difficult for him to do. He also said that he isn’t ready to give up yet, but admitted that he can’t continue to play if his knee doesn’t improve.  

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Yet, he seems aware that his career may be over, as when he was asked if he prepared for the game on April 30 as if it were his last, he admitted that he had, calling it an “A-plus day” and that if it were the end, 

“that would be a great way to finish; tonight was amazing.”

Carey Price

If this is the end, has Price done enough in his career to have his number retired? With any other franchise, most likely he would have done enough. In Montreal, there have been so many legendary players over the 113 years that the standards have been brought to another level.

Carey Price Tribute

After a storied career with the Canadiens winning every trophy possible except for the Stanley Cup, the bare minimum that Price has earned is a day to honor him. A day to pay tribute to all he has given, much like the one Saku Koivu had provided in 2014.

Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens
Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

This is more than just a video montage for a player returning to the city after being traded away. It is a ceremony, one that the Canadiens organization is unequaled at choreographing, to give the fans a few moments to thank a player that was more than a fan favorite — they brought a form of greatness on or off the ice that truly has touched the city and the fan base.

Ring of Honour

Another method to show Price respect for his accomplishments is to place him in the ring of honor around the Bell Centre. To get there, however, first, he would need to be enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Currently, there are 67 names in the ring. With World Junior Championships, World Championships, and Olympic Gold medals, he has a championship pedigree. 

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Also, as a recipient of the Vezina and Hart Trophies as well as being the Canadiens’ franchise leader in wins, Price has done enough to eventually earn that honor. Once he does, he will also be enshrined in the Canadiens’ Ring of Honour.

Retire the No. 31

The question is, has Price done enough to join a murderer’s row of hockey legends and have his No. 31 retired alongside them?  For those 18 players to have their numbers retired (15 retired numbers in total) they all have been enshrined in the Hall of Fame. They have also been innovators of the game, changing how it is played. 

Colby Cave, Carey Price
Montreal Canadiens Carey Price battles the Boston Bruins (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz)

Doug Harvey is seen as the first true puck-moving defenceman, Maurice Richard was the first ever 50- and 500-goal scorer in NHL history, Jaques Plante was the first goaltender to wear a mask even when not injured and the Selke Trophy for best defensive forward was created due to Bob Gainey’s impressive defensive abilities, winning the trophy in each of the first four years it was awarded. Also, every one of the 18 players with their names in the rafters has won more than just multiple individual awards (and they have many of them) and has multiple Stanley Cup championships.

With all that in mind, has Price earned this honor? He has won All-Star appearances, several individual awards, has the most wins in franchise history, 361 wins in 712 games, and has backstopped the Canadiens to one Stanley Cup Final appearance, but winning that championship has eluded him. Without it, it is hard to see him ever having his banner in the rafters next to Patrick Roy’s.

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Even George Vezina, the Canadiens goaltender who the Vezina Trophy for the league’s best goaltender is named, doesn’t have his number retired. He was the first Canadiens goaltender, he played in the old National Hockey Association and followed the team into the NHL. He had an aura of greatness, much like the one Price has had in his career, and Vezina was even named to the NHL’s Top 100 players of all time. Also, he had won two Stanley Cups, the first two in Canadiens’ history, in 1916 and 1924. Despite all of those accolades, even he hasn’t been honored with the franchise retiring his number.

If this is the end of the Carey Price Era in Montreal, it will be a somber time among the fan base as he is beloved. He has earned that support and passion from his many years of elite play, which is most likely going to earn him a plaque in the Hockey Hall of Fame. In any other NHL city, he would likely be guaranteed to have his number retired, but Montreal has a much higher standard and he doesn’t seem to have enough to earn a number retirement in Montreal.

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