Carey Price made his season debut on Friday for the Montreal Canadiens. The 2015 Hart and Vezina Trophy winner missed the first 74 games of the 2021-22 season due to offseason knee surgery and a stint in the NHL’s substance abuse program.
Price stopped 19 of 21 shots in his first game in net, a 3-0 loss to the New York Islanders. On Saturday, Price sat on the bench and served as the backup to Sam Montembeault during the Habs’ 8-4 loss to the Capitals.
During a break in play in the game, TVA Sports caught a wonderful moment between Alex Ovechkin and Price at the end of each team’s bench. Ovi gave Price a fist bump to welcome the legendary goaltender back.
Ovechkin 🤜 Price pic.twitter.com/ai9mARlUHs
— TVA Sports (@TVASports) April 17, 2022
After the game, Ovi was asked about it by TVA.
— HabsLinks (@HabsLinks) April 17, 2022
“Obviously, he’s one of the best players in the league,” Ovechkin said. “He was in tough situation. He’s a warrior. Good for him, good for organization, good for hockey, and good for family. Very happy he’s back and hope everything is going to be fine.”
Ovi’s gesture is powerful for several reasons. While both players are NHL superstars and already familiar with each other, opponents typically keep these types of kind interactions minimal or hidden during games.
Then there’s how Price handled his substance abuse. Price went public with his struggles in the fall and used his platform to encourage others with similar problems to seek help.
“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 month I made the decision to enter a residential treatment facility for substance use. 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.
“I am working through years of neglecting my own mental health which will take some time to repair; all I can do is take it day by day. With that comes some uncertainty with when I will return to play.”
Price’s decision to walk away from the Montreal Canadiens to get help came after the team’s first Stanley Cup appearance since 1993.
In many families, addiction is taboo to talk about and sometimes the behavior is ignored or shamed. Ovechkin’s fist bump is simple, but it shows that Price has the players’ support openly.
That probably meant a lot to Carey. And it probably gives a lot of inspiration to others thinking about asking for help.
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