Carey Price said he has no plans to retire from the NHL but has no idea when or if he will be able to play for the Montreal Canadiens again.
“We’ll have to take it step by step,” Price said Monday. “I don’t have a plan to retire right at this moment. Right now, my goal is to be pain free from day to day.
“I’m still having some issues getting up and down stairs, carrying my kids up and down stairs is difficult, so my first priority is to get my body in a place to where I’m pain-free in my day-to-day living and go from there.”
The goalie has not played since April 29, his fifth game last season after having knee surgery on July 23, 2021.
“My rehab hasn’t been successful so far,” he said. “I’ve talked to several people who have had this type of injury. It has taken over a year for them to feel normal. I’m still holding out hope. There’s a possibility I go for another injection. That surgery is a little bit worrisome for me.”
The Canadiens announced Aug. 18 it was unlikely the 35-year-old would play this season and would be placed on long-term injured reserve.
“We’re here to support whatever decision he makes,” Montreal forward Brendan Gallagher said. “He’s earned that opportunity. He’s earned that right and everything he’s done for this city, this franchise, you know everyone’s going to give him that opportunity. So it’s totally for him to handle.”
At the time of his surgery, Price was thought to need 10-12 weeks to recover, but he was forced to restart his rehabilitation in January following a pause in activities as a COVID-19 preventative measure, during which time he contracted the virus.
That restart came after Price missed a month while in the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program, which he entered Oct. 7, 2021, for substance use.
Price was able to make his return toward the end of last season. He was 1-4-0 with a 3.63 goals-against average and .878 save percentage. He made 37 saves in a 10-2 win against the Florida Panthers in the Canadiens’ final game last season, his 700th NHL start.
“There’s that outside hope of a miracle happening that I could maybe come back and play at some point,” Price said. “I’ve always been a bit of an optimist so I’m not giving up, and definitely not giving up on winning a Stanley Cup in some aspect, in whatever position that would be.”
In 2020-21, Price helped the Canadiens reach the Stanley Cup Final, which they lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning in five games.
“It’s frustrating, no question. You go from the Stanley Cup Final to sitting here today. It’s not a position I envisioned myself being in not too long ago,” Price said. “It’s been an emotional rollercoaster for myself. My kids and wife have been very supportive.”
Selected with the No. 5 pick in the 2005 NHL Draft, Price is Montreal’s all-time leader in wins. He is 361-261-79 with a 2.51 GAA, .917 save percentage and 49 shutouts in 712 regular-season games. He is 43-45 with a 2.39 GAA, .919 save percentage and eight shutouts in 92 Stanley Cup Playoff games (89 starts).
“I think everyone that he’s played with here, Team Canada, all the world and international experience, they’d say just how down to earth he is,” Canadiens goalie Jake Allen said. “He’s such a good guy, he is a good person, and the Montreal Canadiens organization is so fortunate to have that guy for the last 15 years. I mean, how many organizations would be killing just to have Carey Price at their fingertips for that length of time is something special. And for me, to be able to play with him for a couple of years, it’s amazing.”