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01-30-2012, 10:18 PM
Student Of The Game
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Pat Price, D

Price was a bit of a headcase, but he was an effective defenseman, particularly with the puck and with his fists. He played a role in helping to build the Islander and Oiler dynasties, then left before they won anything. And he burned bridges on the way out of New York, too. Which is part of why this 6'2", 200 pound, 261 point, twice top-10 in PIM, 11-playoffs-in-14-seasons defenseman is still available.

Price averaged 19.09 minutes a game in his career. That's pretty good for a player available this late, though not among the very highest. And he was used relatively little on special teams: 17% on the PP and 29% on the PK. There are more relied-upon defensemen out there. But not necessarily guys who were more relied-upon by better teams. Price played 74 playoff games and was a physical presence in every one of them. Price fills a niche as a tough guy on the blueline in favour of some better overall players, but at the same time he's no plug, he can play. Price is the 2nd all-time leading scorer among available defensemen. (#1 and #3 will also be drafted here)

He filled a role as a #5 defenseman in New York while they found their way to dynasty status, but left on bad terms. When he went to Edmonton he really started to blossom, and was their #2 D-man in 1980 and #3 in 1981 for much of the season.
In Pittsburgh something snapped. They must have asked him to ramp up the physical game, because his PIMs skyrocketed, and so did his fights. In his time in Pittsburgh, Price's fights-per-game average was over twice as high as it was in the remainder of his career. He piled up 459 PIMs in 128 games there, serving as a #4 blueliner and putting up 38 points one year despite getting very little PP time. He served as a #2-5 with Quebec before fading away over the next two seasons.

Price finished his career with 115 NHL fights.

Career TOI finishes on team: 5, 5, 6, 2, 3, 4, 4, 3, 5, 5, 6, spent on very strong teams (13% better than average)

Originally Posted by Complete Handbook Of Pro Hockey 1976
played one season with Vancouver, ran into conflicts with his coach, was put on waivers by mutual agreement... smashed up a Ferrari only a couple of months after receiving it as a bonus... showed up at training camp last year in platform shoes, fell off them and missed several games with twisted ankle.
Originally Posted by Complete Handbook Of Pro Hockey 1980
world of potential yet to be realized... has displayed flashes of brilliance...
Originally Posted by Complete Handbook Of Pro Hockey 1981
finally showed signs of ripening potential... credits daily playing time with his improvement... spunky guy who likes to be center of attention... has marvelous offensive skills and can be strong checker... must learn to blend the two to be more effective...
Originally Posted by Complete Handbook Of Pro Hockey 1983
Joins Baxter as the other half of the Pens' "mean team" defense.... "Pat made big improvements in his overall play last season," says Pittsburgh assistant coach Mike Corrigan... "I finally feel I've got my game together and am with a team that aprpeciates what I can do," says Price... plays a defensive style of game and enjoys bodychecking, but has scoring ability too.
Originally Posted by Joe Pelletier
Pat Price was "Mr. Everything" as a junior star, but things changed drastically when he became a pro and the easy money flowed.

Pat played in four seasons with the Saskatoon Blades in the juniors. He was big (62"), brash, fast and strong. In his first junior season, he was named the rookie-of-the-year, even though he was just 14 years old. His final season, he won the team scoring title, even though he was a defenseman. He carried the Blades to the Memorial Cup playoffs, was voted as best defenseman in the league and was nominated Athlete-of-the-Year in Saskatoon. He was according to some scouts, the best junior hockey player in the world.
The WHA drafted Price as an underaged junior in 1974. He signed a lucrative contract with the Vancouver Blazers of the WHA worth $1.3 million over five years, which at that time was the biggest rookie contract in professional hockey. That summer (1974), he captained a team of Western Canada junior All-Stars against Team Canada (WHA), and those who saw him said that he was often the best defenseman on either side. He was then chosen to play with team Canada against the Soviets, to represent his country, even though he had never played played one minute of professional hockey.

Pat bought himself a Ferrari and was driving so recklessly that GM Joe Crozier got a call from the local police that Price was risking his life and limb as well as others. Pat was ticketed more than once for speeding over 100 miles per hour. Pat eventually crashed the car but didn't sustain any injuries.

He then sprained his ankle while doing "tricks" with his platform shoes. It happened while he was playing for Team Canada. When the WHA season started he was in pretty bad shape. Crozier wasn't happy about the situation:

"The kid wouldn't get in shape. He didn't give a damn. He'd fool around, fool around, all the time. He had his money and I guess he figured nothing else mattered, look, the kid was a nice enough kid, but he had no character - his heart was the size of a pea."

Pat didn't get along with Crozier at all. Once, after a loss, Pat was talking to some kids outside the dressing room, laughing and smiling. Crozier didn't like that at all, yelling, "Price, if I see you smiling again after we've lost a game, I'll wipe that smile of your face so fast you won't know what hit you."

Another time Crozier ridiculed Pat in front of his teammates, shouting "You can't play defense, you can't play offense, you're no good, just what the hell can you do?"

Price was on the verge of quitting hockey. Even his father admitted that his son maybe had it too easy in life. He always excelled in anything he tried, he never had a real challenge, so when there was a challenge he just couldn't accept one. Pat however pulled himself together and continued with hockey. The Blazers, on the other hand, had had enough. He was released from his contract, although it was as much as a cost-cutting move as anything.

Price jumped over to the NHL and the NY Islanders who drafted him 11th overall in the 1975 NHL draft. He signed a five year contract, at a greatly reduced from his previous contract at $500,000. Pat attended the Islanders training camp but didn't make the team and was send down to Forth Worth (CHL).

The year down in minors did him good and Pat returned for the next season in much better shape and with a much better self confidence. He had also matured a lot and became a steady defenseman for many years to come.

He continued his NHL career playing for Edmonton, Pittsburgh, Quebec, NY Rangers and Minnesota. His best season point wise came in 1981-82 for Pittsburgh where he got 38 points (6 goals, 32 assists). He also picked up a whopping 322 penalty minutes.

His last season in the NHL came during the 1987-88 season when he as a 33-year old played 14 games for the Minnesota North Stars. Pat played a total of 726 regular season games, picking up 43 goals and 261 points. He also had 12 points in 74 playoff games.

The fast money almost cost him his hockey career but he eventually matured and became a regular blueliner in the NHL for 13 seasons. Still, given his junior hype, he remains an all time draft bust.

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