WATCH ABOVE: While accepting the award that recognizes the best goaltender in the NHL, an emotional Carey Price encouraged First Nations youth to become leaders in their communities.
Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price was a near-unanimous choice as the Vezina Trophy winner on Wednesday – but it was his speech upon receiving the award that will be remembered.
“I would like to take a moment to encourage First Nations youth,” he said.
Price was born in Vancouver, but when he was three his mother, a former chief of the Ulkatcho First Nation, decided to move their family back to her hometown of Anahim Lake in central B.C.
The predominately aboriginal town has just 1,500 people and is 850 kilometres north of Vancouver. To play hockey, Price’s dad would drive – and later fly – his son to Williams Lake, over 300 kilometres away.
“A lot of people would say it’s very improbable that I would make it to this point in my life. I made it here because I wasn’t discouraged. I worked hard to get here, took advantage of every opportunity I had,” said Price.
“I would really like to encourage First Nations youth to be leaders in their communities, be proud of your heritage, and don’t be discouraged from the improbable.”
Price, who also won the Hart Trophy as Most Valuable Player and Ted Lindsay Award as most outstanding player, picked up 27 of 30 first-place votes from the NHL’s general managers.
Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators finished second and Devan Dubnyk of the Minnesota Wild third.
Rinne, Dubnyk and the New York Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist each picked up a first-place vote.
Price was by far the biggest reason the Canadiens finished first in the Atlantic Division.
The 27-year-old went 44-16-6 with a league-best 1.96 goals-against average and .933 save percentage.
WATCH: Later in the evening, Price won the Hart Trophy for most valuable player
– With files from The Canadian Press