Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price finally broke his silence on Sunday night just prior to the Habs hosting the Columbus Blue Jackets at the Bell Centre.
Price, who hasn’t played a game this season as he recovered from offseason knee surgery and spent a month-long stint in the NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance Program, reiterated what the team has continually told the media over the last month. Like his teammates, the Montreal Canadiens starting goalie for the last ten seasons and a future hall of famer is still stinging from coming so close to the ultimate goal and losing in five games to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2021 Stanley Cup Final. On Saturday, Price skated for the first time since mid-December and he’s champing at the bit to get back into the lineup this season.
“Being a goaltender for the Montreal Canadiens has been my life for over a decade, it’s part of my identity” explained Price. “Ending the season on such a disappointing note last year, I just want to get back in there and continue playing. And to be able to put that sweater on again is something that is keeping me motivated at this point.”
However, while Price would like nothing more than to suit up for the Habs this season, he’s had two setbacks already this season thanks to the COVID pauses the Montreal Canadiens were forced to take in late December and early January. He realizes there’s still a hard road ahead and admitted the next few weeks could determine if Habs fans get to see Price back between the pipes this season.
“I’m a little bit anxious about these next couple weeks,” he told reporters Sunday. “I’m hoping for the best. I obviously want this to go well. If I have another setback, I’m just going to start over again.”
Does that mean starting over again with the Montreal Canadiens or would Price prefer a fresh start with another team? With the Habs’ new hockey operations duo of vice president of hockey operations Jeff Gorton and new general manager Kent Hughes promising change, there has been plenty of trade speculation surrounding Price. Price is now halfway through the fourth season of his eight-year contract that carries a $10.5 million salary cap hit. With Gorton and Hughes about to begin either a rebuild or retool – that’s yet to be seen – moving Price on the NHL trade market could free up a nice chunk of cap space. So would Price consider waiving his full no-movement clause?
“I haven’t made any plans to do so,” Price said when asked if he would prefer a fresh start with another team. “My family and I are very happy here. We’re settled in. This is our home. There’s a reason I signed the contract I did here with a no-movement clause. As of right now, I have no plans to be anywhere else.”
While he doesn’t want to play for another NHL team, Price was realistic when asked what might happen if this comeback goes south and didn’t rule out retirement.
“You never know. There’s always a possibility,” the Montreal Canadiens goalie said. “There’s a lot going on over the next couple of weeks that will determine the rest of my season.”
Thankfully, for now, Price is in a much better place mental health-wise after making the decision in October to join the NHL/NHLPA Play Assistance Program.
“It was very difficult,” Price said when asked about what led to making the life-altering decision. “I was in a position where I definitely needed to reach out & it was a trying time for sure…It was one that needed to be made, and ultimately it was successful. Very thankful for the help that I got. I’ve had quite the journey, obviously, at the start of this season, and it would’ve been a lot more difficult if I hadn’t had such a warm sense of encouragement from everyone.”