BROSSARD -- Without giving an exact date for his return to action, Carey Price confirmed on Thursday that he’s moving in the right direction.
Out of the lineup since suffering a lower-body injury on November 25, Price has spent the last 14 weeks working to get back into his familiar spot between the pipes. Some have suggested that the 28-year-old sit out the rest of the season to make sure he’s 100 percent healthy heading into the 2016-17 campaign, but following his selection as one of the first 16 players named to the Team Canada roster at this summer’s World Cup of Hockey, the 2015 NHL MVP made it clear that his goal has always been a swift return, whether it be to represent his country or his club.
“Obviously I wanted to be named to Team Canada. It’s an honor to represent our country and it’s going to be a fun tournament,” acknowledged Price. “We’ve all been participants in the process, both the Canadiens and Hockey Canada. Coming back this year and playing before the World Cup might help [for the tournament], but that won’t change my preparation.”
With the team currently on the outside-looking-in on the playoff picture, Price also stressed that his plans to return won’t change depending on the Canadiens’ spot in the standings when he finally gets the green light.
“Coming back this season has been my goal this entire process -- it’s never been a goal for me to not play. The position we’re in doesn’t change anything. I want to go out there and play hockey as quickly as possible. I want to go out there and play the game I love. It’s not a matter of protecting me, since I’m going to go play regardless. I’d rather do it sooner than later,” stressed Price, who met the media on Thursday for the first time since December after being named one of Team Canada’s three netminders for the September event. “It’s been very difficult. I was dealt a bad hand in getting injured and I’ve been out longer than expected. It’s been difficult mentally, but at the same time, I’ve kept driving every day and I’ve kept my eye on my goal, which has kept me pushing.”
Despite the incertitude which has surrounded his return over several months now, Price was moved by the support the team has shown him to date. Never pressured to return before he was ready, the 2014 Olympic gold medalist revealed he’s even been in the dressing room on several occasions to return the favor.
Now, after a grueling rehabilitation process, the eight-year NHL veteran can finally begin to see a light at the end of the tunnel.
“I’m just continuing the process, which has been a really long one obviously. It’s been slowly progressing. These last couple of weeks I’ve felt like I’ve started to turn the corner and that I’m headed in the right direction. Skating on the ice with full equipment has been proof of that,” underlined Price, who was back on the ice taking shots from David Desharnais on Thursday morning. “To be able to be back on the ice, putting in some real work has been fun for me. I feel really good on the ice, and I’m progressing, especially this last week with my equipment on. I’ve been really pushing my limits more and more.”
And while suiting up for the Habs and Team Canada remain his top priorities, Price did suggest that he might take a pass on the World Championships should that opportunity present itself -- but not without good reason.
“I’m going to be a new dad, April 29 is going to be the birth of my first child and I don’t know if my wife is going to let me go,” joked Price. “But it’s not just that. [The birth of my child] is something that I want to experience, it’s a life experience that I want to partake in to the fullest. It’s something which has kept me grounded throughout all of this as well.”
Hugo Fontaine is a writer for canadiens.com. Translated by Steven Nechay.
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