MONTREAL – When it comes to playing again, Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price has a long way to go.
There are other milestones along the way, too.
Aside from a nagging injury, the 35-year-old Price is on the long-term injured reserve, with no timetable for a return. Price said Monday that he is focused on his day-to-day life and not on the potential end of his 15-year NHL career.
“We will have to take it step by step. I have no plans to retire now,” he said. “Right now, my goal is to be pain free every day. I still have trouble going up and down stairs, and carrying my kids up and down is difficult.
“So the first thing is to put my body in a place where I have no pain in my daily life and go from there.”
The purchase helped Montreal reach the Stanley Cup Final in 2021 – an incredible run that began with the victory of two Canadian teams and followed by the Vegas Golden Knights – and had many problems when he returned to the game. He had knee surgery and sought help from the NHLPA/NHL player assistance program last year for substance abuse.
He won the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy in June, which is given to the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication.
Price appeared in just five games last season as the Canadiens fell short as Stanley Cup champions. Then he had a second opinion about his knee injury in Pittsburgh and the recommendation was another surgery.
The former goalkeeper said he “doesn’t like” the idea and called the process “confused.”
“This operation is called OATS,” Price said. “Basically, they take a piece of cartilage and bone from the area below your knee and place it in the damaged area of the cartilage. It’s very good and the success rate is over 50%, and from a pessimistic point of view it’s like, ‘Well, there’s a 50% chance it wouldn’t work or a 30% chance or whatever.’
“It’s something, unless I needed to live my life, which I probably would have thought about at the time, but now I look at my young children and playing with them every day is something the best. the most important thing to me.”
Currently, Price is continuing to repair the injury — a long, tedious process that has so far been unsuccessful.
“That was the real frustrating part, but I talked to a few people who had this type of injury and it took a year for them to start feeling normal,” Price said. “So I’m still holding out hope. There’s a possibility of another injection, but we’ll have to see. We just have to keep trying to sort it out, but the surgery is kind of bothering me.”
There are no more places with Price’s name in the Canadiens Bell Center locker room. It’s a big change for Montreal veterans like Brendan Gallagher, who have lived through the highs and lows of the team’s recent history alongside Price.
“It’s different looking down and not having him here. He was really the center (point) of this team, this organization for many years,” Gallagher said. “It’s different, but I’m just lucky to have spent the years I’ve spent with him, and he’s made me look good on a lot of nights. I wouldn’t say that to his face, but I owe him one or two.”
Price considers himself to be in a “grey area” when it comes to being part of a team. He was introduced by standing at the Bell Center as a non-playing Canadien during the season opener on Oct. 12. The fifth overall pick in the 2005 NHL draft said he is still trying to find a balance between staying close to the team. like an injured player and respect the space of his teammates.
“Any guy that’s been hurt will tell you it’s a weird situation to be in,” Price said. “You feel like you’re part of a team, but you don’t feel like you’re part of a team.
“I don’t want to be there every day and use the equipment every day. These guys come in here and work hard every day. They see the coaches every day. and I don’t want to hinder their progress. I’m not going to be a part of the process here this year so I feel like I’m on my way. I’ll be there, I miss being with the boys.”
Montreal is 3-3 and has allowed 18 goals this season.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.