Arthroscopic surgery July 22 in New York cleaned up Price’s torn meniscus, the shock-absorbing cartilage in the knee. The Canadiens said at the time that his full recovery would take 10-12 weeks and though he hasn’t yet skated and said there’s no firm date for that to happen, he’s encouraged by his rehabilitation.
Passed over by the Seattle Kraken in the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft one day before his surgery, Price said he’s happy to still be a member of the Canadiens and will be “for the rest of our career.”
He crisscrossed North America on a few occasions since mid-July, having remained in Montreal for a couple of weeks at season’s end before setting off with his wife, Angela, and their three children, daughters Liv, 5, and Millie, 2, and son Lincoln, who turns 1 in October.
Price went west to Kelowna, British Columbia, to visit friends and check on renovations to the family’s offseason home, spent time with Angela’s family in Washington state, flew to New York for surgery, returned to Washington to begin rehab, celebrated his 34th birthday Aug. 16, then moved his family back to Montreal about one month ago to sharpen his rehab focus and preparation for the season.
“We didn’t have a whole lot of time off,” Price said Monday near home on the south shore of Montreal, waiting to pick up his daughter at the end of her school day.
“Basically, took a couple weeks off, had the surgery and started the rehab, then came back to Montreal early; we’ve been here about a month already. It’s been an unusual summer but we’re taking all the right steps and trying to get back as quickly as possible.
“It’s been a pretty short summer in general, with how late the season went this year (the final game played July 7). Having to spend a good portion of your time off hobbling around wasn’t very much fun. It would have been nice to have some more free time to enjoy any kind of summer activity, really. That’s the price you pay for going far into the (Stanley Cup Playoffs), and I’m grateful for that opportunity. But it definitely would have been nice to enjoy summer a little bit more.”
The Canadiens will depend heavily on Price to provide them with the goaltending they’ll need to take a run at anything even close to what they accomplished in 2020-21, the first time since 1992-93 — their 24th Stanley Cup championship — that they had advanced to the Stanley Cup Final. He went 13-9 in the postseason with a 2.28 goals-against average, .924 save percentage and one shutout.
Since being selected by the Canadiens with the No. 5 pick in the 2005 NHL Draft, Price is 360-257-79 with a 2.50 GAA, .917 save percentage and 49 shutouts in 707 regular-season games. In 2014-15, he won the Vezina Trophy voted as the best goalie in the NHL and the Hart Trophy, the most valuable player of the NHL, voted by the Professional Hockey Writers Association, and the Ted Lindsay Award as MVP voted by members of the NHL Players’ Association.
Five seasons remain on the eight-year contract he signed with the Canadiens on July 2, 2017.
With his teammates, Price will report for physicals and medical tests Sept. 22, Canadiens training camp beginning the following day. He spoke this week in an exclusive Q&A with NHL.com:
The Canadiens announced your recovery from knee surgery would be 10-12 weeks. Twelve weeks puts you almost exactly to the Oct. 13 start of the schedule at the Toronto Maple Leafs. How was the surgery, and are you on track to be ready for the season?
“I had a torn meniscus, they had to go in there and clean that up. I’ve been playing with that for a little while now. We wanted to take care of it and now I’m just trying to get back to health again. I feel pretty good. I haven’t skated yet. I’m just doing my rehab and making sure that I’m ready. With any type of rehabilitation, you’re never quite sure how long it’s going to take. It’s a process that you take day by day. I’m going every day to Brossard (the Canadiens’ practice facility), doing all the things to get better. We’re talking about trying it out (by skating) soon, but you’ve got to make sure you’re ready to go when the time is right. We’re doing exercises in the gym. You want to eliminate any of the guesswork when you jump on the ice and make sure there’s no risk of hurting yourself again. We had a long conversation with our doctors in Montreal before the operation, assessed the situation, and together we formulated a plan when to have the surgery and plan the rehab after it. There’s a lot of moving parts with our medical staff and our doctors but they all work together to make plans for our health, fitness and recovery.”
You waived your no-move clause for Seattle’s expansion draft. You and Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin talked at length about that, and he said the risk was minimal that you’d be selected. As talk heated up just before the draft, were you concerned?
“At the time, when we decided that was the course to take, we didn’t have much concern about moving. Then all the buzz around the draft makes you question that. But we knew that we wanted to stay in Montreal and whatever was going to happen would happen. We knew if it were to happen and we went to Seattle, we would have been close to our family. But we’re thankful to be back here [and] at the end of the day, we’re going to be a Montreal Canadien for the rest of our career.”
There were significant changes to the Canadiens roster this offseason, some seasoned veterans and forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi leaving, new faces arriving. What’s your early thought about the team that will be in front of you?
“We have a big challenge, trying to match the success we had last season. Year to year you’re never quite sure how things are going to go when you get to training camp. Everybody has got the same goal in mind. We obviously lost a couple of really big parts to our hockey club but [Bergevin] is doing his best work to try to fill in those gaps. We’re just going to have to try to get off to a good start and welcome the new additions to our hockey club and start jelling right away.”
Bergevin said that captain Shea Weber won’t play this season. Have you been in touch with Shea while he’s home in Kelowna dealing with a shopping list of injuries?
“We hung out with Shea when we went back to Kelowna. He definitely is a warrior and was carrying a heavy load on a lot of injuries. He’s played hard and he’s banged up. I’m sure he’s doing his best now to take care of himself.”
Wearing a mask is nothing new to you. With the COVID-19 pandemic, you’ve taken your mask beyond the rink.
“I’m definitely masked out (laughs). I’m fully vaccinated but we’re still required to wear masks to the rink, just doing our part to help limit outbreaks. We obviously don’t want to have stoppages in play this year because our season is pretty compacted already. Having to shut down for a week last year (after two players were placed in NHL COVID-19 protocol) definitely was impactful on our schedule. We don’t want to have stuff like that happen again. We hope more fans will be allowed into the Bell Centre (a maximum of 3,500 were admitted for the final two rounds of the playoffs, Quebec regulations this summer capping indoor crowds at 7,500). We definitely miss the fans’ presence, it’s an exciting building to play in when it’s full. During the playoffs last year, we played a couple of rounds with hardly anybody in our building, then went to an opposing team’s rink and they were filled to capacity. It’s a little bit frustrating for players, but it’s what we’ve got to deal with.”
Finally, the Olympics with the NHL and NHLPA having agreed that NHL players can participate in the 2022 Beijing Olympics if COVID-19 conditions are safe. You won a gold medal with Canada at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, and many say you’ll almost certainly be representing your country again.
“The Olympics are a fun experience, it’s not something that comes around for everybody very often. Having that experience of being able to go and have success there is a lifetime memory. Beijing is going to have its challenges for sure, being so far away again. It’s going to be a different experience without being able to have family members there. I think that’s going to be a bit disappointing for everybody but at the end of the day, you’re still at the Olympics and it’s definitely a blessing to be able to go.”
Carey Price will participate in the third annual Hockey 911 interactive conference, to benefit the Montreal General Hospital Foundation, on Sept. 22 at 7 p.m. ET. The cost is $25 per household. Register here.