Price suffers setback
Goalie might not be back for another month: Bergevin
The slumping Montreal Canadiens will have to make do without star goalie Carey Price for longer than expected.
And they will have to find a way to turn around their season without the jolt of a coaching change or a major trade, general manager Marc Bergevin said Thursday as he met with the media to try to calm the fans’ anger and frustration at the team’s mid-season collapse.
Price, out since Nov. 25 with a lower-body injury, was expected back after the Jan. 31 NHL allstar game, but Bergevin said it could be another month before last season’s league MVP and Vezina Trophy winner as top goaltender returns.
“It’s slower than we expected,” said Bergevin. “There hasn’t been a setback.
“I don’t know exactly the date, but I don’t think it will be under three weeks or maybe a month. . . We have to find a way to win without Carey Price. That’s a fact.”
Bergevin addressed the players before practice with a message that he will not be making wholesale changes and that management, the coaches and players have to stay positive and work together to get back on track.
Montreal, which finished second overall in the NHL last season, was 19-4-3 on Dec. 1, but has the 30-team league’s worst record since then of 4-16-1. They are winless in five straight heading into a game Saturday night in Toronto.
Bergevin said emphatically coach Michel Therrien and his staff will remain in their jobs until the end of the season, even if the slump continues.
“I believe in this coaching staff and the players do too,” he said. “They’re not going anywhere.
“We’re going to get through this together as a team. The plan hasn’t changed.”
And he repeated several times any blame for the team’s troubles is his responsibility and not the players or coaches.
“It’s on me,” he said more than once.
The troubles began Dec. 3 when Montreal outplayed the Eastern Conference-leading Washington Capitals but lost 32. Since then, they’ve been the better team in many games and still came up short.
Backup goalies Mike Condon and Ben Scrivens haven’t been brilliant, but haven’t been terrible either. The offence has gone south. So has the team’s confidence.
“It’s together we’ll get out of this by staying positive and staying focused on the right things,” said Bergevin.
He looked at making trades, but hasn’t found one that fits. He added he will not make a trade just to shake up the squad if it means sacrificing the club’s future.
While everyone knew the Canadiens would struggle without Price, even Bergevin didn’t think it would be this bad.
He said a recent minor deal that sent defence prospect Jarred Tinordi to Arizona for tough guy John Scott and defenceman Victor Bartley “had to be done,” but he was not at liberty to say why.
“I had some reasons that I can’t really tell you why but, if I could, you probably would understand,” he said.
There was speculation Scott was moved to prevent him from playing in the all-star game.