MONTREAL (AP)Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price said Tuesday that he voluntarily entered the NHL’s player assistance program more than a month ago due to substance use.
Price issued a statement through the Canadiens and also posted it to his Instagram account on Tuesday night.
”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 said. ”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 rejoined the Canadiens on Sunday, but has not begun to practice. Instead, he has met with the team’s athletic trainers to come up with a plan to get back into shape after having knee surgery on July 22, after leading Montreal to the Stanley Cup final.
He met with his teammates on Tuesday for the first time since entering the program.
”It takes courage to face situations like that,” head coach Dominique Ducharme said after Montreal’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Kings. ”That’s the first thing, individually, is to get help and you need to have the courage to admit that you need it.
”He’s got everyone’s support. He spoke to the players this morning, but we’re a team and we’ll continue to support him in this.”
The 34-year-old Price said in his statement that he has neglected his mental health for years and it will take some time to heal.
”(A)ll I can do is take it day by day. With that comes some uncertainty with when I will return to play,” he said.
Price has a career record of 360-257-79, with a 2.50 goals-against average and .917 save percentage with 49 shutouts.
”He’s a leader on our team, but to be honest, the hockey part you don’t really even care about,” Canadiens defenseman Ben Chiarot said. ”You care about your friend and his family and the well-being of him and his family.
”For a man to come out and face his fears the way he did, that’s not easy for guys to do and he did (it) head-on. So I’m proud to call him a friend.”
Drafted fifth overall by Montreal in 2005, Price is the storied franchise’s all-time wins leader. His 360 wins for the Canadiens tops Hall of Famers Jacques Plante (314), Patrick Roy (289), and Ken Dryden (258).
In 2015, he swept the NHL’s key awards, winning the Ted Lindsay, Jennings, Vezina, and Hart trophies, becoming the first goaltender in league history to win all four individual awards in the same season.
Price has represented Canada internationally at all levels of play, most recently winning gold at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
When the Canadiens announced on Oct. 7 that Price was voluntarily entering the assistance program jointly administered by the league and the players’ union, there was an outpouring of support from players and fans.
”I appreciate all of the overwhelming support and well wishes,” Price said. ”I please ask that the media and our hockey community continue to respect our privacy at this time.
”Your support and respect of this so far has been a critical piece to my recovery.”
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