If Carey Price has it his way, he will be able to retire from his hall of fame career on his own terms.
In a wide-ranging media availability session Monday, Price seemed intent of doing his best to stay healthy and sharp, play out as many of his four seasons left on a contract that carries a $10.5 million salary cap hit. When the moment comes that he feels and knows he can’t be close his accepted and expected level of play, Price will move on from his playing career.
“I want to finish playing at an acceptable level – I don’t know how long that is but at the end of the day, I want to be able to say I left the game playing well and not being a burden,” Price replied when asked about his future.
Of course not playing for 282 days and going through a grueling and many times, frustrating rehabs process gave and forced Price to reflect on his future but also the present and where he wants to be as a person.
“There’s definitely been a lot of time for self-reflection on a personal level and as a professional,” Price said. “It’s really been a trying time but at the end of the team it’s been positive because I’ve been able to handle those experiences and come out on top of them.”
The Montreal Canadiens starter for the last ten years made his first start of the season and his first since Game 5 of the 2021 Stanley Cup Final this past Friday. He was greeted and sent off with playoff volume cheering and admiration from the Bell Centre crowd after making 17 saves on 19 shots in a 3-0 loss to the New York iIslanders. So far, so good on how his knee and body are reacting.
“It’s been good,” Price said of the last two days after his first start of the 2021-22 season. “Even when I wasn’t playing, being on the bench and taking in a game at ice level. …and then I had a good practice today and getting ready for the game tomorrow.”
Price and the team have the framework of a workload schedule for Price mapped out for the final six games of the season but as Price pointed out, it’s really a day-to-day situation that will be dictated by his body.
“I have a bit of an idea but it’s going to be kind of a day-to-day type of thing,” Price said. “I haven’t seen a lot of reps in games and I still feel like my conditioning level could increase so it’s all going to be how I feel the next day after.”
With the World Championships coming up, Price admitted he’d love to play for Hockey Canada in the tournament for the first time in his career but knows that’s not likely to happen this spring.
“It’s hard to make that call right now,” Price said. “I’m going to say it’s unlikely given the way things have gone over the year. It’s something I would like to do. I’ve never had the opportunity to go to a World Championships and it’s something I’ve always wanted to do but I don’t know if right now is going to be the right time to go.”