BROSSARD – The wait is over. Carey Price returns to the crease on Friday to face the New York Islanders.
TICKETS: Islanders @ Canadiens
Interim head coach Martin St-Louis confirmed the news during his pregame press conference at the Bell Sports Complex following the team’s morning skate.
It will be Price’s first time seeing game action since the 2021 Stanley Cup Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning last July, and comes after a lengthy rehabilitation effort following offseason surgery to his knee and a stint in the NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance Program.
St-Louis knows a thing or two about facing adversity in the NHL, having gone from undrafted free agent to Stanley Cup champion and winner of numerous individual awards, and the coach was cognizant of the gargantuan effort undertaken by the All-World netminder in order to return.
“You see all the work an athlete puts in. For fans, a player’s success is often judged on the ice. But, there are a lot of things players need to do to have success on the ice. And those are things that often, you’re all alone. No one is cheering you on, no one is watching you. But, those are some of the most important moments for an athlete to be successful on the ice and to have the fans behind you,” shared St-Louis. “So, what Carey went through, and the work he’s put in, it’s fun that he’s here today and that he’s gotten to the point where he’s able to play. We’re very happy to have him. I think it’ll give the team a boost. I’m looking forward to seeing it.”
Video: Martin St-Louis’ pregame press conference
Forward Brendan Gallagher could not contain his smile when talking about his longtime teammate and how he felt about seeing Price get back into his game-day routine.
“It’s been a long, long road for him. He’s eager to get in there. It’s nice to see him again on game day; he’s already in that frame of mind down there. He’s getting ready, doing what he does. I’ve seen it so many times throughout the years here,” described Gallagher of Price, his teammate of 10 seasons. “It’s going to be exciting to see him in net. It’s something he’s worked incredibly hard for. So, in front of him, we’ve got to give him a good effort and hopefully, find a way to win a hockey game.”
Video: Brendan Gallagher on Carey Price‘s return to action
Goalie coach Eric Raymond also addressed media following morning skate, and recounted how anxious Price was to get back in the crease – and what a lift it would provide him to do so – as he started traveling with the team again recently.
“He was so happy to be with us on the road. He’s such a good person, and he was like a young rookie last week when he was on the road,” shared Raymond, who was hired as goalie coach in July 2021. “He was nervous. He said, ‘I’m so excited.’ He’s been wanting to play for a long time and now, we’re here. So, I’m very happy for him, happy he can play his first game.”
Video: Eric Raymond on Carey Price’s talent
Price isn’t the only one to get a boost from his return. The Habs are mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, so getting their franchise player back is sure to provide some extra motivation in the room.
“I think right now, the position we’re in, it’s not the easiest thing. [Price’s return] is going to help, it’s going to add some jump to our game for sure. He’s somebody who, for me personally, has meant a lot to me as a teammate but [also] to this organization,” praised Gallagher of Price, who will be playing game No. 708 for the Canadiens on Friday. “When you see a guy go through what he’s been through this year, for him to be back in the net, you can see how much it means to him. You want to represent that well and find a way to win a game for your teammate, and do everything you can to help him out. It’s going to give us some jump, for sure.”
Paying tribute to a legend
Before taking questions from reporters, Gallagher addressed the passing of Islanders legend Mike Bossy, who died on Friday following a battle with cancer.
“On behalf of our group, we want to offer our condolences to the family. He’s somebody who did so much for the game of hockey, so much for the community even after he was done playing,” said Gallagher. “We’re thinking about him, we’re thinking about his family. It’s tough news to hear, for sure.”
St-Louis hails from Laval, where Bossy played Junior for the QMJHL’s Laval National, and recounted some fond memories of the former star player and his impact on kids in the area.
“For a couple of years, he would come give out all the trophies to young hockey players at the end-of-year hockey banquets in Laval. I have some photos with Mike when I was very young. He gave his time to come encourage young players; it was special,” expressed St-Louis. “It’s a tough day for the hockey world, for the people of Laval, for sure, and definitely for the Bossy family. We’re thinking of them.”
St-Louis also announced that forward Michael Pezzetta and defenseman Corey Schueneman would return to the lineup on Friday. Tyler Pitlick and Jordan Harris will sit. And, with Price returning and Sam Montembeault backing him up, the Canadiens reassigned goaltender Cayden Primeau to the AHL’s Laval Rocket.
Game time at the Bell Centre is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. ET. For tickets, click here.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism