Price suf­fers set­back

Goalie might not be back for an­other month: Bergevin

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - SPORTS - BY BILL BEA­CON

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.

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