Pat Price was "Mr. Everything" as a junior star, but things changed drastically when he became a pro and the easy money flowed.
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.