Canadiens’ Price set ‘to take it step by step’ with injury

MONTREAL – When it comes to playing again, Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price has had a long way to go.

There are some important steps along the way.

Aside from a lingering knee injury, the 35-year-old Price is on long-term rehabilitation, and there is no timetable for his return. Price said Monday that his focus starts with his daily life and not the end of his 15-year run in the NHL.

“We have to do it step by step. I have no intention of resting 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 my first thing is to get my body to a place where I’m not in pain every day and go from there.”

The price helped Montreal reach the 2021 Stanley Cup Final – an amazing run that began with victories over two Canadian teams and then the Vegas Golden Knights – and then had many problems in returning to the game. He had knee surgery and sought help from the NHLPA/NHL player assistance program last year for substance abuse.

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He won the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy in June, given to the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication.

Price appeared in just five games last season and the Canadiens fell from their perch as Stanley Cup contenders. Then he had a second opinion about his knee injury in Pittsburgh and the idea was to do something else.

The team player said he was “uncomfortable” with the idea and called the procedure “intrusive.”

“The process is called OATS,” Price said. “Basically, they take a plug of cartilage and bone from the bottom of your knee and put it in the damaged area of ​​the cartilage. Yes, there is a 50% chance working 30% time or not.’

“It’s something that, if I didn’t want to go so much in my life, I might have thought about it at that time, but now I’m looking at my young children and playing with them in that way. today is the most important. important to me.”

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Meanwhile, Price continues to rehabilitate the injury — a long and tiring process that has so far been unsuccessful.

“That’s the really frustrating part, but I’ve talked to some people who have had this type of pain and it took a year for them to start feeling normal,” Price said. “So I’m still holding out hope. There’s a possibility that it could happen again, but we have to see. We have to keep trying to solve a problem, but it worries me.”

There is no place with Price’s name in the Canadiens’ locker room at the Bell Center. It’s a change of expression for Montreal veterans like Brendan Gallagher, who has lived through the highs and lows of the club’s recent history with Price.

“It’s a different look down there and he doesn’t have it here. He’s been the mainstay of this team, this team for so many years,” Gallagher said. “It’s different, but I’ve been fortunate to spend the years I’ve worked with him, and he’s graced me on many nights.”

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Price considers himself in a “grey area” when it comes to being part of the team. He was introduced to a standing ovation at the Bell Center as a non-playing Canadien during the season opener on October 12. The fifth overall pick in the 2005 NHL draft said He is trying to find a balance between staying close to the club. as a painstaking player and respecting the place of his teammates.

“Any injury survivor will tell you it’s a weird situation,” Price said. “You feel like you’re part of the team, but you don’t feel like you’re part of the team.

“I don’t want to sit there every day and use the resources every day. These people come here and they work hard every day. They see the exercises every day. day and I don’t want to hinder their progress. I’m not going to be a part of that process here this season so I think I’m on track.

Montreal is 3-3 and has allowed 18 goals this season.

The Associated Press provided this report.

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