Carey Price drives a half-ton truck. A big one. He's kind of addicted to trucks. In fact, as he wheeled me around downtown Montreal the other day he told me he can't remember ever driving anything else.
It's not that surprising, actually, when you consider Price, the star goaltender for the Montreal Canadiens, is a country boy at heart.
Price loves the outdoors and spends as much time as he can fishing, hunting and breathing-in fresh, clean air.
- Watch an excerpt from Peter Mansbridge's interview with Carey Price, see photos of his childhood home
There's the story of how he sat five or six metres up in a tree with his bow and arrow waiting patiently for a 10-point buck to pass, one he'd been tracking for days. He was alone, it was very quiet, no sounds but the ones nature makes. He'd been in the tree from well before sunrise. Price was at peace - just the way he so often looks minding the net.
He usually wins in the net. He won against the 10 pointer, too.
It's been that way since he was a couple of years old, living in a log cabin with a tin roof near the shores of Anahim Lake in British Columbia. Part First Nations, his mom is a former chief of the Ulkatcho First Nation. He learned to skate on the frozen creek outside his home.
It sounds like a storybook script, but it's true — it's the real deal and so is Carey Price.
His Dad drove him three and a half hours, each way, to the house league team he played for in Williams Lake. It was a journey they took, wait for it, up to THREE times a week.
When that got to be too much, his Dad bought a small bush plane and flew the kid to the games.
Carey told me he used to fall asleep in the back of the truck dreaming of the day he'd play in the NHL. Just like all those hockey-playing city kids used to do, tucked in their little beds after their five-minute ride home in Mom's minivan.
The difference is, Carey made it. He went from that frozen creek to the Bell Centre in Montreal, where he's now considered by many to be the best goalie in the world.
He doesn't like talking about that, though, and who can blame him. The NHL playoffs are about to begin, and being the best in the world means nothing if you can't wear a Stanley Cup ring at the same time.
For the past few weeks everyone has wanted a piece of Carey Price. He's a great story. But he's also a quiet guy, shy almost. Patient and focused, but quiet. Doesn't like the attention. Just wants to do his job, stop pucks, help win games, and get back in his truck.
But he'd decided on one more feature interview in these final days before the playoffs begin, and of the dozens of requests he could have chosen from all over the hockey world, he'd decided on The National.
Maybe it was because he knew that those kids who worship him out in Anahim Lake, including the underprivileged kids his foundation supports with a Breakfast Club, would be able to see it. He wants them to know that if he can "make it," they can too, no matter what the "it" is.
We weave our way through downtown Montreal traffic and get up on the expressway. He's in his jeans, a tee-shirt, a trendy work jacket, a ball cap. The truck is filthy outside — it looks like it has been in the bush slapping puddles of melting snow and mud. You can tell he loves the moment. Except for this intruding journalist sitting beside him babbling away about hockey.
About 20 minutes later we wound up in front of the Price home — Angela and their two Labs were waiting, a CBC crew parked outside anxious to start recording. Angela is Carey's rock, they've been together since he was 17. Nothing much happens anywhere near their south shore home unless she gives the okay.
With the dogs romping around we tried to decide where to do the actual interview. The back yard? Inside the garage with his workshop in the background? In the house? No, none of those options seemed right.
Two guys in jeans and a dirty truck. That seemed right.
(For more on the 10-point buck story, check out this great piece from a few years ago by Arden Zwelling in Sportsnet Magazine. And full disclosure - I drive a half-ton, too. It's dirty most of the time, too. But I can't stop a beachball, let alone a puck. - Peter Mansbridge)