Canadiens’ Carey Price talks NHL’s player assistance program: ‘Good time to ask for help’

"It came to a point in my life where I really needed to stop," says Montreal Canadiens goaltender, Carey Price, opening up on a podcast about struggling with alcohol abuse and entering the NHL's player assistance program. Alyssia Rubertucci reports

By Sportsnet

Back on Oct. 7, 2021, it was announced that Carey Price was entering the NHL’s player assistance program, which he explained was due to alcohol abuse. The veteran goaltender spoke about his decision to seek help with former teammates Guillaume Latendresse and Maxim Lapierre on La Poche Bleue podcast.

“I just felt like it came to a point in my life where I really needed to stop. And I just thought this was a good time to ask for help,” Price explained. “I think that’s one of the hardest steps to breaking bad habits is realizing you need help and there’s nothing wrong with that. I think everybody asks for help in their life with whatever.”

“I felt that at that time in my life, that was the appropriate move to make and I’m thankful that I did it. It’s worked out for me.”

Price explained that he was able to reset his mindset, and seeing people who went through hard times helped create some accountability for himself.

He also had to deal with his position as a high-profile athlete and being open to talking about his experiences.

“For a lot of NHL players. I think that’s probably the hardest first step. It’s probably the hardest first step for most people that are struggling, is the judgment from others,” Price explained. “Once you get past that and understand that people aren’t judging you and you can be able to take pride.

“When I was going out, I always drank a lot to be social. I’m very introverted by nature and get a lot of social anxiety when it comes to being in large groups…that kind of led to like excessive drinking. Being able to change my mindset, going into functions, and being able to just be who I am and being comfortable doing that has really been a change.”

Price on NHL expansion draft

When the Montreal Canadiens took the chance of exposing Price in the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft, he didn’t expect the Seattle Kraken to take him.

Price had five years left on his contract with a $10.5 million cap hit. So when former Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin came to Price to waive his no-movement clause, there wasn’t much pushback.

“I talked to Bergevin about it and I had a feeling they wouldn’t pick me because of my contract and the stage of my career,” Price said on the podcast. “I felt like we could a do a solid here if we exposed me because I really doubt that it was going to happen. So I felt like it was a tactical move to be able to protect another player.”

On top of being owed $13 million in salary for the upcoming season, including an $11-million signing bonus, Price would retain his no-movement clause if he was claimed by the Kraken (meaning they couldn’t have claimed him and then flipped him to another team without his consent).

Seattle would end up taking defenceman Cale Fleury from Montreal but unfortunately for the Canadiens, Price has only played 30 games over the last two seasons. The 35-year-old has been dealing with a lingering knee injury that he is reluctant to get a procedure on as it would involve transferring bone and cartilage from a lower-wear area of his knee into the damaged area of his knee.

“I went for a second opinion in Pittsburgh at the end of the season — that’s where I had my end-of-the-year second opinion, what my future held and what kind of a plan would be going forward. That’s when that surgery was suggested,” Price said back on Oct. 24. “I was not particularly fond of such an intrusive surgery — in my opinion it’s a little risky for my quality of life after, and it worries me a little bit.

“It’s something I would consider if my quality of life is not at a place where I feel is acceptable and I’m really struggling in my day-to-day living.”

Price is signed through 2025-26 in Montreal, looking for his 713th game in the big leagues after playing all of the first 712 in a Canadiens jersey. Over that time, he’s led Montreal to 361 wins, put up five seasons with a save percentage topping .920, posted 49 career shutouts and taken home a Hart Trophy, Vezina Trophy, Ted Lindsay Award, William M. Jennings Trophy and — last season — a Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.

Price appreciated what Subban brought to Canadiens

During their time as teammates, Price said no one found a way to entertain him quite like P.K. Subban.

With the retired defenceman set to be honoured by the Canadiens Thursday, Price was asked about Subbans’ impact on the team

Price believes that Subban changed the mould of how players act, since many NHLers were reluctant to express themselves.

“P.K. was one of those guys that was easy to talk to. When he was on the team, everything was entertaining,” Price explained. “I always appreciated the energy he brought to the room. He always had a positive attitude, brought positive energy, and was always happy to be at the rink. It was something I missed when he was gone.”

Price added he felt a difference when the Canadiens traded Subban for Shea Weber, who brought a different leadership style as a more serious player and held teammates accountable.

“I think there were personality traits from both players that we could use, but Webb’s brought a different type of personality,” Price said. “He really thought the game well and helped manage what we needed to do, and he communicated with the coaching staff. He brought the leadership qualities that teams need.”

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