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Stu Cowan: Carey Price said he didn't want to be a distraction, then his tone-deafness made him one

The Gazette logo The Gazette 2022-12-06 Stu Cowan, Montreal Gazette
Montreal Canadiens' Carey Price watches a preseason NBA game in Montreal on Friday, Oct. 14, 2022. © Provided by The Gazette Montreal Canadiens' Carey Price watches a preseason NBA game in Montreal on Friday, Oct. 14, 2022.
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VANCOUVER — When Carey Price spoke with the media in late October, he talked about how he didn’t want to be a distraction to his Canadiens teammates while on the long-term injured reserve list this season with a knee injury.

So much for that.

On Saturday — while the Canadiens were on the road in Edmonton — Price decided to publish an Instagram post to oppose Bill C-21 , the federal government’s new firearms bill.

Price’s post came only three days before the 33rd anniversary of the École Polytechnique massacre — an anti-feminist mass shooting in which 14 women were murdered.

In his Instagram post, Price said he supported the Canadian Coalition for Firearm Rights (CCFR). A day earlier, one of the survivors of the Polytechnique mass shooting, Nathalie Provost, denounced the CCFR for using the promotional code “POLY” to offer customers 10 per cent off its merchandise .

That promo code was revolting.

Price is a passionate hunter after growing up in Anahim Lake, B.C., loves his guns and doesn’t want the government taking them away. But the gun Price posed with for his Instagram photo while dressed in a hunting camouflage outfit would not be banned under Bill C-21, according to a spokesperson for federal public security minister Marco Mendicino.

Price is entitled to his opinion about guns and there are other hunters who will surely agree with him. He obviously felt he had something to gain by the post and he will no doubt have some big fans now within the Canadian gun lobby.

But to post something like Price did so close to the anniversary of the École Polytechnique massacre was incredibly insensitive.

France Margaret Bélanger, the president of sports and entertainment for Groupe CH, told Radio-Canada that Price told her he didn’t know about the Polytechnique massacre — or the revolting promo code for the CCFR — even though he has been with the Canadiens for 15 seasons and the anniversary is marked every year on Dec. 6.

However on Tuesday morning, Price contradicted Bélanger’s assertion in an Instagram post, writing that he did know about the Polytechnique massacre.

“Despite a previous statement released,” Price said. “I did in fact know about the tragedy. I have been a member of the MTL community for 15 years and I understand the weight this day holds within the community. While I have no control over the timing of the amendment to Bill C-21 I stand by the opinions I’ve shared, I acknowledge that amplifying any conversation around guns this week may have upset some of those impacted most by the events here in 1989 and to them I apologize.”

 Carey Price posted this message to his Instagram stories Dec. 6, 2022. © cp0031 Carey Price posted this message to his Instagram stories Dec. 6, 2022.

Most pro athletes live in their own little bubble — which can become a fantasy world with fame and fortune — so it wasn’t that shocking on Monday that Price might not have known anything about the massacre.

“I don’t think he was aware — none of us are really aware of what happened 30 years ago,” Canadiens defenceman Joel Edmundson said after Monday’s morning skate in Vancouver. “The (Polytechnique) anniversary is fast approaching — it’s news to all of us, to be honest. But we’re with Carey. There was no bad intentions on his part. It’s just being blown out of proportion and we support him.”

Price wrote on Twitter Monday that his views are his own about guns and that he believes in them and that he didn’t mean to disrespect anyone. He didn’t mention anything about knowing about the Polytechnique massacre.

As for the promo code, Price wrote: “No, I didn’t agree with the promotional code either.”

Not agreeing with it “either” and condemning it are two different things and Price still seems tone deaf when it comes to what kind of impact the Polytechnique massacre had on Montreal.

Price has put the Canadiens — the franchise that gave him an US$84-million contract that runs through the 2025-26 season — in damage-control mode again a year after their controversial decision to select Logan Mailloux in the first round of the 2021 NHL draft. Price made himself the focus of attention instead of his young teammates who have been having a successful season in the first year of a rebuild under new management.

“Any injured guy will tell you that it’s kind of a weird position to be in,” Price said in October. “You feel like you’re a part of the team but you don’t really feel like you’re a part of the team. You’re kind of in a grey area, especially when you’re projected to be out an extended period of time.

“I’m not going to be a part of that process here this season,” Price added. “I feel like I’m in the way.”

If Price had taken the time to speak with Bélanger, or Anna Martini (an executive vice-president and chief financial officer for the Canadiens), or Chantal Machabée (the vice-president of communications) or Geneviève Paquette (the vice-president of community engagement) before posting on his Instagram they could have explained to him that his timing was horrible and would be offensive to so many people — especially women.

The shooter in the Polytechnique massacre targeted only women before taking his own life. He didn’t consider women to be the equal of men, which triggered him. After the attack, police found a letter inside his jacket stating he intended to kill  feminists.

On Monday evening the Canadiens issued a statement about Price that concluded by saying: “On Saturday, Carey Price posted a statement in support of the CCFR’s opposition to proposed federal gun control legislation. As previously stated, Carey was unaware of the CCFR’s recent marketing campaign nor was he aware of the unfortunate timing of his statement. The Montreal Canadiens wish to express their sincere apology to any and all who have been offended or upset by the discourse that has arisen over this matter in recent days.”

The Canadiens should have had Price attend the anniversary events at the École Polytechnique Tuesday to better understand the city he has been part of for 15 years.

scowan@postmedia.com

twitter.com/StuCowan1

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