Habs fans have heard this tune be­fore

B.C.’s Price says he’ll ‘be back soon’ af­ter re­cov­ery stalls in re­turn from lower-body ail­ment

The Province - - SPORTS - SPORTS COM­MENT Stu Cowan scowan@post­media.com twit­ter.com/StuCowan1

WMON­TREAL hat started out as a “mi­nor” lower-body in­jury to goalie Carey Price is turn­ing into a bit of a soap opera and it’s a show Mon­treal Cana­di­ens fans have seen be­fore.

Two sea­son ago, the Anahim Lake prod­uct went down with a “lower-body in­jury” on Nov. 25, 2015, and the Cana­di­ens said they ex­pected him to miss at least two weeks. Price ended up miss­ing the rest of the sea­son with what was much later con­firmed as a sprained me­dial col­lat­eral lig­a­ment in his right knee.

On Tues­day, the Cana­di­ens an­nounced Price would be tak­ing a cou­ple of days off while re­cov­er­ing from a “mi­nor” lower-body in­jury suf­fered dur­ing the pregame warm-up on Nov. 2 in Min­ne­sota. Price played in the game that night against the Wild, al­low­ing five goals on 26 shots in a 6-3 loss with the fi­nal goal into an empty net.

Price, who was orig­i­nally listed as day to day, said the in­jury wasn’t the re­sult of be­ing hit by a shot, which sug­gests he pulled or stretched some part of his lower body. Price said it has noth­ing to do with his right knee.

Be­fore Tues­day, Price had been work­ing out on the ice in full equip­ment with goalie coach Stéphane Waite, but he’s be­ing shut down for at least two days. The Cana­di­ens made Price avail­able to the me­dia Tues­day in Brossard and the goalie in­sisted his in­jury is still mi­nor and that he won’t be out much longer. But how long? Cana­di­ens gen­eral man­ager Marc Bergevin met with the me­dia af­ter the team’s morn­ing skate and said he won’t have any idea how long Price will be out un­til he starts prac­tis­ing with the team again, but added “it won’t be long.”

Just to be safe — and with reg­u­lar backup Al Mon­toya out in­def­i­nitely be­cause of a con­cus­sion — Bergevin claimed vet­eran goalie Antti Niemi on waivers from the Florida Pan­thers on Tues­day.

Rookie Char­lie Lind­gren, who had a 3-1 record in his first four games re­plac­ing Price, was back in goal Tues­day night against the Colum­bus Blue Jack­ets with Zach Fu­cale — who has no NHL ex­pe­ri­ence — as his backup. Price said Lind­gren’s solid play has al­lowed him not to rush the re­cov­ery from his in­jury and in­sisted the fact he won’t be on the ice for a cou­ple of days didn’t mean he has suf­fered a set­back in his re­cov­ery.

“No, not at all,” Price said. “It’s just mak­ing sure that it’s prop­erly taken care of. I know that it’s not go­ing to be a long-term process like it was last time.

“It just wasn’t get­ting bet­ter. It was get­ting stag­nant, so I just de­cided to give it a rest for a cou­ple of days and re­assess it in a cou­ple of days.”

Price also said if the game against the Blue Jack­ets had been a play­off match, he “ab­so­lutely” could have played, but you re­ally have to won­der about that. Price did not look very mo­bile when he worked out with Waite be­fore the Cana­di­ens prac­tice on Mon­day.

In hind­sight, Price shouldn’t have played the game in Min­ne­sota af­ter get­ting in­jured dur­ing the warm-up. Price said he didn’t think it was any­thing se­ri­ous un­til he woke up the next morn­ing and Bergevin said that was when he first learned about the in­jury.

Bergevin has 84 mil­lion rea­sons to be wor­ried about his No. 1 goalie af­ter sign­ing Price to an eight-year, US$84-mil­lion con­tract ex­ten­sion that kicks in next sea­son. Price, 30, has a his­tory of lower-body in­juries. He was knocked out of the Eastern Con­fer­ence fi­nal in 2014 with an in­jury to his right knee af­ter get­ting run over by the New York Rangers’ Chris Krei­der and be­fore his sea­son-end­ing knee in­jury two years ago Price had al­ready missed nine games that sea­son with an­other lower-body in­jury.

“In­juries are part of the game,” Bergevin said when asked if he is con­cerned about Price’s new con­tract. “Play­ers do get hurt and I’m sure it’s not the last time he’s go­ing to get hurt. But that just comes from play­ing hockey.”

At 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, Price is a large goalie, which means there’s a lot of im­pact each time he drops to his knees and also a lot of weight to push side to side with his legs in the crease. When asked if the na­ture of his po­si­tion has taken a toll on his body, Price said: “Yeah, sure, man. It’s not an easy sport.”

And things don’t get eas­ier for any ath­lete as they get older.

When Bergevin was asked if the na­ture of Price’s po­si­tion has be­come too much for the goalie’s body to han­dle, the GM had a oneword an­swer: “No.”

Price was asked if he had any words to calm the fears of Cana­di­ens fans.

“I don’t know if there’s any­thing that I can say,” he said. “Just that I’ll be back soon. That’s the only thing I can say, re­ally.”

It re­mains to be seen how long this soap opera lasts.


Mon­treal Cana­di­ens goalie and Anahim Lake prod­uct Carey Price hasn’t played since Nov. 2, when he was in­jured in warm-ups be­fore a game against the Min­ne­sota Wild, but con­tin­ued to play any­way. His in­jury has been de­scribed as ‘lower body.’

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