National Post (Latest Edition)
‘Struggling’ Price takes mental-health break
Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price has become the latest in a group of superstar athletes who have publicly stepped away from sport, citing their mental health, with Price taking a break from his role with the Canadiens and “showing up for himself and our family,” in the words of his wife, Angela Price.
“Part of the privilege of being in the position our family is in is that we also get a public platform to show how there is and can be a path to light for anyone who is struggling,” Angela Price wrote on Instagram.
“No matter what is on the line, we hope we can communicate the importance of putting your mental health first not just by saying it, but by showing up and doing the work to get better.”
On Thursday, the National Hockey League and the NHL Players’ Association jointly announced Price, 34, would be taking part in the player assistance program, which provides support for players and their families facing mental health, substance abuse and other challenges, and stepping back from his role as the Canadiens goaltender.
The reasons for Price stepping away from his role with the Canadiens and entering the program were not made clear on Thursday.
Marc Bergevin, the Canadiens general manager, told reporters at an emotional press conference that Price would be out for a minimum of 30 days, but perhaps longer.
“Today, I’m not thinking about Carey Price, the goalie for the Montreal Canadiens, but Carey Price the human being,” Bergevin said.
In recent months, a number of other athletes have spoken out about mental health struggles, casting light on the challenges athletes at the top of their game face every time they enter the court, arena or gymnasium.
Natalie Durand-bush, a professor in the school of human kinetics at the University of Ottawa, and the executive director of the Canadian Centre for Mental Health and Sport, said athletes face all the usual stressors, and they can be exacerbated because of their professional environment.
“They are human beings, and sometimes no matter how hard they could be trying to manage the stress that they’re experiencing, they are not machines,” Durand-bush.
“We’re really trying, as researchers, to understand all of the nuances, all of the factors, that could be contributing to this and also testing out different types of support we could be providing and the impact of that.”
Simone Biles, the American gymnast, and one of the sport’s all-time greats, pulled out of the women’s gymnastics team final at the Tokyo Olympics, saying she had to focus on her mental health and saying she was experiencing a lack of awareness between her body and mind that made her fear injury.
“We’re human too and we have emotions and feelings and things that we’re working through behind the scenes that we don’t tell you guys about. And so, I just think it’s something that people should be more aware of,” Biles told NBC Sports following the decision.
In May, Naomi Osaka, the Japanese tennis star, withdrew from the French Open following a spat over media appearances, citing her anxiety.
“Anyone that knows me knows I’m introverted, and anyone that has seen me at the tournaments will notice that I’m often wearing headphones as that helps dull my social anxiety,” Osaka wrote in a statement posted to Twitter.
Durand-bush said many athletes in the past have suffered in silence, and commended the strength of Price, and others, who’ve made these decisions to step back and take care of themselves.
“We’ve seen too many times athletes not seeking help because of fear of negative consequences or just choosing to suffer in silence, so the fact that he’s doing this is fantastic,” Durand-bush said.
Last season, Canadiens forward Jonathan Drouin took time away from the team because of anxiety and insomnia, missing the team’s playoff run.
“That’s where it hit a wall for me. It was time to step away from the game. Literally take a step back from everything and enjoy life,” Drouin told ESPN last month.
In recent months, Price has been struggling with a knee injury and had missed this week’s training camp. The Canadiens’ regular season opens next Wednesday with a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“We all feel for him and his family and wish him nothing but the best, as much as we compete,” Leafs captain John Tavares told reporters on Thursday.
Bergevin said he found out Wednesday that Price would be going on leave.
“I didn’t see it coming,” Bergevin said.
Price, who grew up in British Columbia, led the Canadiens to the Stanley Cup finals in 2021; he joined the team for the 2007-08 hockey season.
WE’VE SEEN TOO MANY TIMES ATHLETES NOT SEEKING HELP.