Famed Canadiens goaltender Carey Price said he hopes to be able to play again with the Montreal Canadiens sooner rather than later.
"Yeah, it's definitely an objective for me this season," Price said Sunday. "You know, it's always been my goal, ever since I got back here. Obviously, I've had a couple of setbacks that weren't foreseen. It's been a frustrating process, no doubt, but at the end of the day, I've got to take care of it. And, you know, moving forward, I'm starting to skate again, so hopefully I'll keep on progressing and be able to get back into uniform pretty soon."
Price hasn't played this season after having knee surgery July 23. The Canadiens said he would need 10-12 weeks to recover but then announced Jan. 17 that Price would have to restart his rehabilitation without a timetable to return.
However, Price was able to skate in full equipment for the first time since mid-December on Saturday, and he said what happens "over the next couple of weeks" will determine his ability to play this season.
"I'm obviously a little bit anxious myself to find out some answers. So, I don't have them right now, but we'll find out soon enough," Price said. "It's going to be interesting to see how my knee responds. I'm hoping for the best.
"I obviously want this to go well, and you know, if I have another setback, I'm just going to start over again. That's the only option that I have."
Price admitted he wasn't sure if he could return to top form.
"It's crossed my mind," he said. "You know, when you go through an injury like this and you've had setbacks, which I've had them before, you know, there's always going to be a little bit of doubt. That's just a fact of being injured. You're an athlete performing at an apex level. You're always going to wonder if you're going to be the same player when you come back. But you know, we have such an amazing training staff here that they give you the best odds of coming back to your full capability. So, I'm just going to trust in the process, and hopefully that when I get back on the ice with the guys, that will be right back to where I was at."
Price had also been participating in an assistance program for substance use. Price said the decision to enter the program was difficult, but that it was necessary for him to get out of what he described in the statement as "a very dark place."
"I was in a position where I definitely needed to reach out, and it was a trying time for sure," Price said. "But at the end of the day, it was one that I knew had to be made, and ultimately, it was one that was successful, and I'm very thankful for the help that I got. "I'm tremendously grateful for all the support that I've received from not only the fans, but the Montreal Canadiens themselves, my teammates, and obviously my family. I've had quite the journey, obviously, since the start of the season, and it would have been a lot more difficult if I hadn't had such a warm sense of encouragement from everyone."