Puck Daddy - NHL

What was it? What finally pushed restricted free agent Carey Price(notes), 22, and the Montreal Canadiens to agree on a new two-year, $5.5 million contract?

Was it the Carey Price training camp "strike" talk earlier this week that his agent quickly denied and Price denied again Thursday?

Could it be the fact that Jaroslav Halak(notes), the playoff hero who was traded to the St. Louis Blues as Montreal decided to keep Price, is returning to town this weekend for a charity autograph session and, we imagine, a media mobbing?

Were they worried about losing Price to the siren's song of professional rodeo?

(By the way, Price said Thursday his rodeo season is done, ruining the chance to see him take down a steer in the afternoon and stop a Buffalo at night.)

Whatever the motivation, it's finally done: The first year for $2.5 million and the second for $3 million. (s/t Tony Marinaro with the contract figures.) The $2.75 million cap hit is a full $1 million less than Halak's, who signed a four-year deal with the Blues.

On a conference call Thursday, Price said both sides "wanted [the contract] a little bit shorter" and that it was "an appropriate amount of time for length." He said the contract duration was something both sides "cleared up right away."

The two-year contract positions Price to be a restricted free agent again in 2012 and potentially sign his next contract under a new CBA -- just like it did for RFAs David Perron(notes), Sam Gagner(notes) and Erik Johnson(notes).

But for now, Price is the man between the pipes for Montreal, after Halak's trade cleared up the controversy.

"I didn't know what to expect. I thought it was 50/50," he said of the Habs' goaltending decision this summer.

Price acknowledged last season was a learning experience. Talking about how he shouldn't have been "down" emotionally as often as he was. Saying things like "ice time isn't given to you. It's earned."

The Canadiens made the Eastern Conference finals on the shoulders of a goaltender with whom they chose to part ways this summer. They enter this season putting their faith in a goalie that's lost his last eight postseason starts. Price, at the very least, seems to understand the bar may have actually been raised in a city where it's already higher than anywhere else in the NHL.

"There's always going to be challenges playing in Montreal, but the only challenges are the ones I put on myself," he said.

Related Articles

Puck Daddy

Add to My Yahoo RSS

Related Photo Gallery

Y! Sports Blog