Habs goalie Carey Price is taking a break for his mental health

Price's announcement comes after fellow player Jonathan Drouin also revealed his mental health struggles.

Maija Kappler 4 minute read October 8, 2021
Carey Price mental health

Carey Price, the goalie and star player for the Montreal Canadiens, is taking at least a month off from hockey to get support for his mental health. (Minas Panagiotakis / Getty Images)

Carey Price, the goalie and star player for the Montreal Canadiens, will be taking some time away from hockey for at least a month in the name of mental health.

Less than a week before the start of the NHL season, the league, along with the NHL Players’ Association, announced that Price, 34, will step back from his role with the team to spend time in the voluntary player assistance program which provides mental health support to players and their families. The news comes after Canadiens forward Jonathan Drouin also opened up about his struggles with anxiety that led to his decision to take a break from the game last fall.

“I salute them, I’m glad they did,” the Habs’ general manager Marc Bergevin said of both Price and Drouin Thursday, encouraging others to ask for assistance if they need it.

Price’s wife Angela also applauded his decision on Instagram. “Carey’s showing up for himself and our family by making the absolute best decision possible for us,” she wrote next to a photo of Price with the couple’s three children.

“It’s incredibly important to us to show our kids that asking for help, and letting yourself be supported by others is not just OK, but encouraged — anytime, and under any circumstance.”

Carey Price mental health

Carey Price’s wife Angela posted a message of support on Instagram. (Instagram / @byangelaprice)

There’s still a stigma around elite, high-performance athletes admitting that they need help — Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles had their share of detractors when they opted out of competitions for mental health reasons this summers. But both athletes also received a lot of support from fans and fellow athletes. And experts say that seeing people in such high-profile positions get help for mental health can normalize the idea of seeking treatment for the rest of us.

“There has always been, within the athletic world, the emphasis on appearing physically fit and appearing mentally fit,” Katy Kamkar, a clinical psychologist based in Toronto, told CBC News. “So the more we are able to have a very supportive, empathetic conversation that, same as goes with physical health problems, we are able to normalize the conversation.”

Bergevin echoed those comments, saying he believed other players may be inspired by Price.

“Your hockey career lasts [only] so many years, but you have the rest of your life — your kids, your family,” he added at Thursday’s press conference. “That’s the most important thing.”

Pressure is a constant in any professional athlete’s life. But it’s something that Price, as the star player in hockey-obsessed Montreal, has faced more than most. The team made it to the final round of last season’s Stanley Cup playoffs, in large part due to Price’s steely, stoic saves. He has “an absolutely mind-blowing” .952 save percentage in shorthand situations, as NBC Sports put it. Compared to other goalies who played at least seven games in this year’s postseason, only one other goalie — Cam Talbot, a Canadian player who’s currently the goalie for the Minnesota Wild — had a save percentage that was even remotely comparable, the outlet pointed out.

That kind of pressure can get to you, Price’s teammate and friend Brendan Gallagher told SportNet.

“I think it’s probably something that’s been building and building and you know, being the goaltender in Montreal, this market isn’t easy,” he said. “It comes with a lot of perks as well of course, but doing what we do, nobody really understands what you’re going through except your teammates and the coaching staff in that locker room.”

Gallagher added that he’s glad Price is prioritizing his mental wellbeing.

“He’s getting the help that he needs, and I’m really proud of him for making that decision.”