- Price was annoited the saviour in Montreal and didn't meet expectations
- Gainey, at some level or another, bought into that far too early
- Montreal fans and media are savagely brutal on the Canadiens, but especially their goalies.
Any one of these three statements could be enough to stunt a goalie's development, or cause him to ask for a trade; unfortunately, all three are in play in full force, and in a Centennial year where the expectations were through the roof.
I don't think that Gainey is given much of a chance - he'll be hung out to dry before being unceremoniously dumped by the club.
Price will openly ask to be traded; media will encourage it.
All this might have been avoided had Gainey chosen to hang on to Huet. They had a potential franchise goalie in their pocket and they may have destroyed him.
Acro, IMHO it's important to distinguish between the media hype in Montreal and the player development of Bob Gainey.
Gainey traded Huet because he did not believe he could afford to retain him as a free agent, which turned out to be correct.
Cristobal Huet was never a 'franchise goaltender' in Montreal. And I do not say that out of disrespect to him.
As their number one draft pick, Gainey felt Price was ready. In his first season, he did not disappoint. Price's personal issues subsequently undermined his performance.
It can be argued that Carbonneau failed to properly manage his young 'tender.
As to this being 'avoided', how?
The Montreal hockey media is, in large part, a rabid bunch of inquisitors, and no potential star is spared their probing microscope.
I hadn't implied that Huet should have been kept for the next year, just to the end of the season. Price had too much pressure going into the playoffs. There was a lot of media talk of him being the "next Dryden" or "next Roy".
Gainey was adamant that Price was ready; in fact that may have been one of the conflicts between him and his long-time friend, Guy. Carbonneau seemed intent on playing Halak, but Gainey pushed, then took over and played Price. This despite the fact that Halak's record was as good or better than Price's down the stretch this year.
Had Huet been on the bench instead of Halak during last year's playoffs, Price might have had a veteran presence to turn to when he had to deal with the pressures for the first time; instead, he had another kid who was as green as he was. Huet would have represented stability without threat, as he is a veteran, but certainly not a franchise goalie. This is the same situation that Elliot found himself in this year - Auld is certainly not conceding the position, but he had enough experience to provide a calming voice when necessary.
This year, Carbo did try to manage the goalies' development. Gainey needed "his" pick to look good, but as the team lost confidence, Price lost confidence in himself, and both spiralled downward. This could have been halted by putting Halak in more; he is more than capable. Whether Halak won or lost, it would have allowed time for Price to find his game again. Gainey won the battle with Carbo, but he lost the war.
As for the media - they are what they are. My point was that they are certainly more intense in Montreal than some other centres. They may not be much harsher on goalies than Ottawa media are, though...