- Greg Wyshynski is ESPN’s senior NHL writer.
Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price will start against the New York Islanders at Bell Centre on Friday night, making his first appearance with the team since the 2021 Stanley Cup Final.
Canadiens interim coach Martin St. Louis made the announcement after a practice with Price preparing as if he were the starter.
Price, 34, hasn’t appeared in an NHL game since July 7, when the Canadiens were eliminated in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The next several months were tumultuous for Price. He had offseason knee surgery. He waived his no-movement clause to be left unprotected in the Seattle Kraken expansion draft — the thought being that his massive contract would deter Seattle from selected him, and he wasn’t taken.
On Oct. 7, Price voluntarily entered the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program.
“Over the last few years, I have let myself get to a very dark place and I didn’t have the tools to cope with that struggle,” Price wrote on Instagram last November. “I made the decision to enter a residential treatment facility for substance abuse. Things had reached a point that I realized I needed to prioritize my health for both myself and for my family. Asking for help when you need it is what we encourage our kids to do, and it was what I needed to do.”
Price returned the Canadiens in late 2021, but his road back from surgery hit setbacks, including a non-COVID-related illness that took him out of action. Earlier this month, however, Price began participating in full team drills with Montreal, fueling speculation that he could return before the end of the regular season.
“It’s been a long, long road for him,” friend and teammate Brendan Gallagher said. “He’s eager to get in there. It’s nice to see him on game day. It’s something he’s working incredibly hard for. So in front of him, we have to give a good effort and hopefully win a hockey game.”
This is Price’s 15th NHL season. He has a career record of 360-257-79 in 707 games, all with the Canadiens. Price won the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP and the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top goaltender in 2014-15. Price is signed through the 2025-26 season with a $10.5 million average annual contract value.
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