MONTREAL — Ben Scrivens’ season is going to end exactly where it started — in the AHL. He was hoping for a different outcome but he’s not bitter about it.
“It’s part of the business; it is what it is,” Scrivens told Sportsnet Thursday. “I’m still getting paid to play hockey, so life’s still good.”
It’s a healthy outlook on a tough situation. On Wednesday, Scrivens was discarded by the Montreal Canadiens just hours after the team came to terms on a two-year contract with goaltender Charlie Lindgren — an NCAA prospect who skirted his senior year at St. Cloud State to ride out the rest of the regular season in the NHL.
Montreal’s commitment to Lindgren enables him to burn the first year of his contract and skate to a more lucrative contract sooner. But it also leaves Scrivens out in the cold after the team parachuted him in on Dec. 28 to help them put a stop to an unprecedented slide in the standings.
“I don’t blame him or the CBA or the team, it’s purely a business decision,” said Scrivens. “No ill will on my part.”
Scrivens showed no ill will toward the Edmonton Oilers who relegated him to the Bakersfield Condors before the season began, and after 14 appearances with the Canadiens (5-8-0, .906 save percentage), he’ll quietly make his way to the St. John’s IceCaps Friday.
“I feel like I did help the team steal a couple of games once I did get up to Montreal and get my feet under me,” said Scrivens. “I played well. You can always play better and there’s always hindsight of, ‘this could’ve gone better or this could’ve bounced our way instead of bouncing the other way,’ but you never really know and life’s full of that.
“It was a great opportunity to play at the NHL level again, not only to prove to myself but to prove to other people that I still had some game left. I’m really grateful, and it’s unfortunate I wasn’t able to do more to help the team make the playoffs.”
The Spruce Grove, AB. native made over 30 saves in six of his appearances and over 36 in four of them, but the Canadiens couldn’t piece it together with either Scrivens or Mike Condon in goal. After winning only three of 14 games in December, they dropped eight of 11 games in January.
The damage was done halfway through February.
“When a team as a whole is fighting those things,” continued Scrivens, “it doesn’t matter who you are; if you’re a forward and the puck’s bouncing on you with a wide open net, or if you’re a defenceman you go to block a shot like you have a hundred times and it goes off your shin pad and into the net instead of into the corner.
“It took us a while but I thought we definitely got back on track and started to play as a more cohesive unit before the proverbial injury bug hit. That obviously added a new layer of frustration within the group.”
One by one, injuries to key players such as Tom Gilbert, Jeff Petry, P.K. Subban, Brendan Gallagher and David Desharnais turned the Canadiens into an unrecognizable bunch.
Then there is MVP goaltender Carey Price, who had missed 65 games before joining his teammates at practice Thursday while Scrivens was in the process of clearing waivers.
Scrivens offered a thought on Montreal’s future.
“I don’t think it’s a hot take or anything special or dramatic to say the team is better with Carey back,” he said. “Obviously having a healthy blue line, getting Carey back and having a fresh start — the team will probably be back to how they started the year and the way they’ve been going the last couple of years before this one.”
The 29-year-old Scrivens will ride out the rest of the season in St. John’s, collecting NHL pay on his expiring $2.3-million one-way contract. Then he’ll consult with his wife Jenny — a goaltender and public relations spokeswoman for the National Women’s Hockey League — on what to do next.
“I can’t control what other teams are going to offer me or not offer me,” said Scrivens. “I’ve had an extremely successful NHL career, in my opinion. I enjoyed playing every second in this league and it’s been a pleasure and an honour to pull on a sweater every night. Obviously, I hope I get that opportunity again. I think I can play at this level. I think that every player out there — all they ask for is a chance and I don’t know that I’m different than anybody else in that respect.
“It’ll be a decision that Jen and I make together about what we’re going to do in the future and where we’re going to end up. But obviously hockey is a possibility and a probability — it’s just a matter of when and where.”