The Canadiens announced Friday that Carey Price will be returning to the team.
“He will be here on Monday,” coach Dominique Ducharme said after the team’s practice. “Obviously we haven’t seen him in a month. We haven’t talked to him and he’s going to be coming in and see our therapists and see where he’s at and from there we’ll build upon.”
Price has not played since the 2021 Stanley Cup Final, where he backstopped the Canadiens to a runner-up spot.
Where has Carey Price been?
On Oct. 7, the NHL and the National Hockey League Players’ Association announced Price would voluntarily take part in the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program.
“Today, I’m not thinking about Carey Price the goaltender,” general manager Marc Bergevin said. “I’m thinking about Carey Price the human being.”
Bergevin, who found out the news the day prior — which he mentioned caught him off guard — was overcome with emotion during his news conference.
“It’s … It’s hard,” he said, fighting through tears when asked about what Price has meant to him over the past nine years together, before motioning for the next question.
The program was created in 1996 and assists players and their families with mental health, substance abuse and other problems. The exact reason for Price’s admission into the program has not been disclosed; however, Price’s wife, Angela, did post the following message to her Instagram:
Posted by Carey Price’s wife Angela on IG. Credit to them for trying to help others by sharing their story. Here’s hoping Carey gets the help he needs. pic.twitter.com/WLnKSCwqZk
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) October 7, 2021
Bergevin said at the time of the announcement that Price would be out a minimum of 30 days but “could be longer.” Nov. 7 marks almost 30 days exactly.
Carey Price is also recovering from knee surgery
Price missed training camp while recovering from July knee surgery (meniscus). He hadn’t practiced with the team but had reportedly skated, per the Montreal Gazette’s Stu Cowan. He was expected to return for the start of the season when the surgery was announced; however, as things got closer to the start of the season (Montreal’s first game was Oct. 13), his suiting up was not as clear.
“There’s a buildup for sure. I don’t think it’s a full medical like when they come before the season but for sure he’s coming off an injury, surgery, so we’ve got to see where he’s at with that,” Ducharme said. “And then from there, I think it’s gym, then on the ice by himself, then with the goalie coach, with shooters, with the team.
“So there’s a buildup for sure, and the timeline, it’s tough to go deep and really have a plan.”
When will Carey Price play in a game?
As far as anyone knows, Price has not been skating since entering the program, so the expectation is it will be a few weeks before he is fully ready to go. Between a normal training camp and preseason action, there are about 2.5 weeks of preparation for the start of the season — but players enter that having skated for weeks. The Canadiens will probably also do a slow buildup for Price since he is coming back from that knee surgery. According to Sportsnet’s Eric Engels, Price could also make a conditioning stint in Laval (AHL) before he suits up in Montreal.
It has been 121 days since Price played for the Canadiens, in the team’s Game 5 loss to the Lightning in the Stanley Cup Final. The netminder went 12-7-5 with a .901 save percentage in 25 games in 2021. He missed time at the end of the season after going into concussion protocol and played one game in Laval in preparation for his return. When he did return, Price posted a .924 save percentage and 2.28 goals-against average in the postseason.
NHL POWER RANKINGS: Canadiens start slow
Over the course of 14 seasons, all with the Canadiens, the 2015 Hart and Vezina Trophy winner has a 360-257-79 record, a .917 save percentage and 49 shutouts.
The Canadiens have struggled as a team to start the 2021-22 season. Entering Nov. 5, they sat 30th of 32 teams in points with a 3-9-0 record. They’ve allowed 3.33 goals-against per game played, sixth-worst in the league, despite allowing 30.7 shots against per game (12th-fewest). With Price out, Jake Allen has taken the No. 1 spot but is 3-7-0 with a .904 save percentage and 2.92 goals-against average. Backup Sam Montembeault is winless with an .887 save percentage and 3.52 GAA.