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Canadiens’ Price wins Masterton for perseverance, dedication

B.C. hockey icon shook off knee surgery and a substance problem this year
Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price warms up prior to an NHL hockey game against the New York Islanders in Montreal, Friday, April 15, 2022. Price is the winner of the 2022 Bill Masterton Trophy. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price has won the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, awarded to the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication.

The league announce Price as the winner of the Masterton on Friday night prior to Game 2 of the Eastern Conference final between the back-to-back defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Rangers. Price backstopped the Canadiens to the Stanley Cup Final a year ago before losing to Tampa Bay.

Price didn’t play between Game 5 of the 2021 final in July and April with two weeks left in the 2021-22 regular season. After undergoing knee surgery last summer, he entered the NHL/NHL Players’ Association joint player assistance program in October and said not long after it was to help a substance problem he developed.

“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 in a statement in November. “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.”

Despite Montreal being near the bottom of the league standings, Price worked his way back and made his season debut April 15. He played five games, losing his first four before making 37 saves in a 10-2 victory in Montreal’s season finale.

“It means everything to us,” forward Cole Caufield said at the time about Price getting the win. “He’s the backbone of our team, he’s the guy you want to play for. To have him in the room every day, it was just something special and you just feel the energy he brings no matter if he’s excited or not.”

Price’s future is uncertain. He turns 35 in August and despite having four years left on his contract at $31.25 million, there’s a real possibility the British Columbia native walks away from hockey.

Veterans Patrick Marleau and Zdeno Chara were the other finalists for the Masterton as voted on by members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association. Marleau announced his retirement last month after a 23-year career, and Chara could also hang up his skates.

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