He’s been the back bone of this team for well over a decade. He’s one of the best to have ever worn the pads for the Montreal Canadiens and could very well see his jersey retired at the end of his career. Much like the team, he has had a very trying time since helping the Habs reach the Stanley Cup finals last summer. But he’s about to put all of that behind him as he looks to make a return very soon.
But why do that? Why, with 10-11 games left to the season, wouldn’t he just shut it down for the season and start fresh next Fall? That is the question we read regularly on social media. While questioning his motive is understandable, it simply doesn’t take most deciding factors into consideration. There are really good reasons why Price wants to return this season and the Canadiens also have their own reasons to allow him to do just that.
If you are Carey Price, you want to return at this point. He’s a competitor and he’s been out a long time. He wants and needs to feel that rush of adrenaline, to compete and help his team win. This is often downplayed by those who haven’t been in that situation. These guys worked their entire life for that and live to do just that. That’s what players miss the most after retirement.
Secondly, he has put so much time and effort to rehab and come back, it is for him a reward for his hard work. The hours spent in the gym, doing physiotherapy, the time spent in the ice tubs, it all matters to him. Going through an entire summer summer wondering how his knee will react would be far from ideal both emotionally and physically. How hard can he push in the off-season? He needs to know.
Mentally speaking, he needs it. He is as focussed as ever, but his head is filled with questions right now. Emotionally speaking, he saw his best friend and team captain Shea Weber all but officially having to call it a career. Then he put himself out there at the Expansion Draft, creating some uncertainty for him and his family. He had surgery. He then checked himself in to the NHL and NHLPA Player Assistance Program for an entire month. And then came all of the setbacks with his knee, plus COVID. It’s been a trying few months and he needs to return, to be with HIS team.
For the Habs too
The Canadiens also will benefit from a return to play from their franchise player. They need to know how his knee will be as they will have to make decisions. They have 10.5 million question marks when it comes to the team’s cap and its goaltending position. That’s a lot of uncertainty for any club. And because of Price’s uncertain future, they didn’t trade Jake Allen at trade deadline. It would have been franchise suicide to do so. Without Price coming back to play a few games, they would be in the same situation this summer.
Whether Price wants to stay and be part of what Jeff Gorton and Kent Hughes are doing remains to be seen. His two best friends on the team, Weber and Petry, won’t be there next season as Petry has asked for a trade. We know that Angela Price and Julie Petry are very close friends too. Their kids are friends.
Ultimately, with a full no-movement clause to his contract, Price’s future in Montreal is in his own hands. But even if he accepted to contemplate a move, trading him would be far from a slam dunk. For one, it would have to be where he wants to go. Then, those teams would have to need him, want him and be willing to pay him. And the Canadiens would have to receive fair value for one of the NHL’s top goaltenders. Ideally, they wouldn’t want to retain salary either.
Whatever the future holds for Carey Price and the Canadiens, it is very important for him to see some action this season and don’t be surprised to see him soon, where he belongs, wearing his number 31 Habs’ jersey, protecting the Canadiens’ net.