Carey Price returned to the Montreal Canadiens for the first time in more than a month Tuesday, meeting in person with his teammates and picking back up with physical training.
Price voluntarily entered the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program before the regular season and has yet to play in 2021-22. In a statement released by the Canadiens on Tuesday, the veteran goaltender explained his reasons for doing so.
“Over the last few years I have let myself get to a very dark place and I didn’t have the tools to cope with that struggle,” Price said. “Last month I made the decision to enter a residential treatment facility for substance use. Things had reached a point that I realized I needed to prioritize my health for both myself and for my family. Asking for help when you need it is what we encourage our kids to do. And it was what I needed to do.
“I am working through years of neglecting my own mental health which will take some time to repair; all I can do is take it day by day. With that comes some uncertainty with when I will return to play.”
There is no timetable for Price’s return. Coach Dominique Ducharme told reporters Tuesday that he doesn’t believe Price will join the Habs on their upcoming trip.
“It was great to see him. He’s doing well,” Ducharme said. “For our players, we’re together every day, so we have a good group of players, and they take care of each other. And to see a teammate come back like that, it’s positive for the guys. Obviously while he was gone we had no news about him, so to see him again and to see him in a good state of mind, that’s positive.”
In addition to his mental health, the 34-year-old Price is working on recovering from knee surgery he underwent July 23, not long after the Canadiens fell in the Stanley Cup Final to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Before rejoining the team Tuesday, Price met with Montreal’s training staff so they could examine his knee. Ducharme said the team was happy with where he was physically.
Whenever Price is ready, the 3-10-0 Canadiens will be glad to have him back. Jake Allen has assumed No. 1 goaltender duties for the team and has a 3-8-0 record with a 2.94 goals-against average.
Price, the 2015 Vezina Trophy winner who still is considered one of the sport’s premier goalies, thanked the support he and his family have received since he entered the player assistance program.
“I appreciate all of the overwhelming support and well wishes,” he said in the statement. “I please ask that the media and our hockey community continue to respect our privacy at this time. Your support and respect of this so far has been a critical piece to my recovery.”
–Field Level Media