The Montreal Canadiens‘ star goaltender will take part in the NHL/NHL Players’ Association joint player assistance program.
Carey Price will be stepping away from the team while voluntarily taking part in the program though the league and players’ association did not specify why in a brief statement issued Thursday.
General manager Marc Bergevin admitted that he was caught off guard, saying he only learned of the news the previous day. He told reporters that he wants to respect Price’s personal life and that the Hab will be absent from the club for at least 30 days.
“I think that going to get help shows a lot of courage,” Bergevin said. “And at the end of the day I sincerely believe everything will go back to normal.”
Bergevin said that he isn’t thinking of Price, the goaltender, but of “Carey Price, the human being.”
The news comes one day after the Habs head coach said that the 34-year-old native of Anahim Lake, B.C., would likely not be taking part in the regular season opener.
On Wednesday, Dominque Ducharme said Price is “not doing well right now” as he recovers from a non-COVID illness. Price is also recovering from off-season surgery to repair a torn meniscus.
Angela Price, his wife, published a statement on Instagram in support of her husband. She said part of the privilege of being in the position their family is in is that they can show others there is help available.
“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,” she wrote.
She added that “Carey’s showing up for himself and our family and making the absolute best decision possible for us.”
Angela Price said it is “incredibly important” for them to show their three children “that asking for help and letting yourself be supported by others is not just OK, but encouraged — any time, and under any circumstance.”
The Habs GM also encouraged hockey players and the public to seek help when needed.
“Because your hockey career lasts so many years, but you have the rest of your life — your kids, your family — that’s the most important thing,” Bergevin said.
Price’s decision has prompted supportive messages from other hockey players and politicians alike. Former Hab Tomas Plekanec said he has the utmost respect for his old teammate.
“No question Carey will come back even stronger,” he wrote on Twitter.
Dale Weise, who also shared the ice with Price, said “the amount of people this will impact and help by a guy of this magnitude coming out and saying he needs help will be astronomical.”
Quebec Premier François Legault gave his best wishes to the goalie shortly after the announcement was made.
“We wish Carey Price a speedy recovery,” he wrote on Twitter.
The Canadiens will open the 2021-2022 season on Oct. 13 in Toronto.
—with files from The Canadian Press