‘Many steps’ to be taken before Price plays again for Canadiens

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Carey Price returned to the Canadiens on Monday after spending 30 days in the NHL/NHLPA’s player assistance program.

While his presence back around his teammates was much-needed “good news” as teammate Cedric Paquette said, there is no set timeline yet for a Price return to the ice.

Price met with the team’s training staff over the weekend so they can see how his surgically repaired knee was coming along. Next is to meet with coaching staff so the parties can map out a return plan, one which might include a conditioning stint with AHL Laval.

“I haven’t met him yet. I need to see him. I’ll see him [Tuesday],” said Canadiens head coach Dominique Ducharme. “He wants to come back and play, but there’s other things to manage. We talked about the injury that he was coming back from, getting back in shape, and playing shape too. There’s many steps to be taken, but he wants to play. He wants to be part of our group. He wants to help out.”

After undergoing surgery to repair a torn meniscus in July, Price did not take part in training camp. He was back on the ice skating in mid-September, three weeks before he entered the program.

Price has not played this season after voluntarily entering the program on Oct. 7. Montreal has started the year 3-10-0 and are at the bottom of the Atlantic Division and tied for second-fewest points in the NHL.

“He’s a leader that we’re missing enormously around our team on and off the ice,” Paquette said. “It’s going to be good for us just to have him around us.”

When he is around the Canadiens and playing a part in their season again, it won’t just be Price’s presence that will be a driving force in trying to turn around their season. It will need to be a team effort.

“We’re going to do it together,” Ducharme said. “The day Carey’s in the lineup, he won’t be out there all by himself. We want to do it together. We’ll have an extra player, an important player, but we need to do it all together either way.”

UPDATE: Price posted on Instagram Tuesday afternoon that he entered a residential treatment facility for substance abuse:

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

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