Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price will be making his long-awaited return tonight against the New York Islanders.
Price was in the starter’s net prior to the game-day skate for the Canadiens Friday morning and then was the first goalie off the ice after the skate, which means he will play in his first start since Game 5 of the 2021 Stanley Cup Final on July 7, 2021.
When the Montreal Canadiens placed Jonathan Drouin on Long-Term Injury Reserve on Tuesday night, it cleared enough Cap space for the Montreal Canadiens to activate Carey Price. It was a tell-tale sign that the Canadiens’ franchise player was close to his triumphant return, after weeks of rehabbing and travelling around with the team.
Price hasn’t played all season due to many setbacks in his rehab training and a covid-19 lockdown, but he was primed and motivated to make a return before the end of the season. Price underwent knee surgery back on July 23 to repair a torn meniscus after having played through the injury during the Canadiens’ improbable 2021 playoff run to the Stanley Cup Finals. Price was on his way to rehabbing his knee and coming back to form in September but bravely checked himself into the NHL Player Assistance Program on October 7. Since leaving the program and rejoining the team on Nov. 9, it had been a series of starts and stops for Price in his rehab and attempt to come back and play for the Montreal Canadiens this season.
Price acknowledged during his first press conference on January 30 that the road has been a tough and long one, but the support of the fans and his family drove him to persevere and push to play this season.
“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.”
Hughes was very cognizant and empathetic of how difficult things have been for Price since he led the Montreal Canadiens on that improbable run to the Stanley Cup Final and is hoping not just for the team but for Price’s mental state that he’s able to return to game action this season.
“Probably most importantly for Carey, I think, when you struggle through this type of an injury and you try to come back, and you get frustrated time and time again, I think it’s going to be a huge weight off his shoulders and give him a little bit of peace of mind to be able to return and play,” Hughes said during a press conference last month.
With Price set to make his Canadiens comeback tonight, expect the Bell Centre faithful to give Carey Price a hero’s welcome.