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There are things Max Pacioretty misses about Montreal, but winter isn’t one of them.
“No. Not at all,” Pacioretty said with a smile after the Vegas Golden Knights practised Friday at the Bell Centre.
The temperature outside was minus-17C with the wind chill making it feel like minus-27C. Back at Pacioretty’s home in Las Vegas, it was 14C and sunny.
Pacioretty will play his second game at the Bell Centre on Saturday (7 p.m., SNE, CITY, TVA Sports, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM) since the Canadiens traded their former captain to the Golden Knights on Sept. 10, 2018. In his first game back last season, Pacioretty was held pointless and had a minus-2 rating in a 5-4 loss and he finished the year with 22-18-40 totals, along with a minus-13, while limited to 66 games because of injury. This season, Pacioretty leads the Golden Knights in scoring with 20-26-46 totals while playing in all 50 games and is plus-9.
GM Marc Bergevin appeared to make Pacioretty a scapegoat for the Canadiens’ problems two seasons ago after they finished 28th in the overall NHL standings. It wasn’t right the way Canadiens management treated Pacioretty before he was eventually traded, but it’s nice to see he’s happy in Las Vegas and performing well on the ice.
“It’s just another game like last year,” Pacioretty said about facing the Canadiens again. “A lot will be made out of it — not as much as last year. But the dust has kind of settled now and it’s just another hockey game. Two very important points for two teams right before the break, so a lot at stake tomorrow and it’s going to be a lot of fun playing here.”
The Golden Knights arrived in Montreal late Thursday night after beating the Senators 4-2 in Ottawa and Pacioretty was looking forward to having dinner Friday night with friends from Montreal at one of his favourite restaurants.
Pacioretty was always a class act during his time in Montreal and that hasn’t changed. On Friday, he spent 10 minutes answering questions thoughtfully in front of a large media group, something he did on a daily basis as captain of the Canadiens — whether the team was winning or losing.
“This would be probably more media than you’d see in an entire week in Vegas,” Pacioretty said. “It is much different, but not to say one’s better or worse. It’s just the way of the business and different markets. Obviously, there’s some things that you have to do differently. But it doesn’t mean I like or don’t like one scenario more or less than the other.
“I play for a really great organization and I have some really great teammates,” he added. “It’s a privilege to play in the NHL, so I never want to look back and say anything was negative. I enjoyed my time here a lot. Even when you guys thought things were going really bad, it wasn’t the case in my mind living out my dream being a professional hockey player. So I don’t want to take away anything special that happened here, but I’m very happy with where I’m at.”
So is Pacioretty’s wife, Katia, and their four young boys. The two oldest — age 6 and 4 — are playing on the same youth hockey team in Las Vegas and Pacioretty said the sport is booming there at the grassroots level.
“It’s a great lifestyle in Vegas … it’s not what you think at all,” Pacioretty said. “I think when I first got traded there, I had much different expectations. I thought you lived on the strip … I thought they walked through a casino to go everywhere. It’s just not the case at all. We all live in the suburbs. Really quiet, slower-paced lifestyle, great schools for the kids. I met a lot of great friends already outside of hockey and the rink, which has been awesome.”
Pacioretty experienced highs and lows during his time with the Canadiens, leading the team in scoring for six straight seasons, starting in 2011-12, and scoring at least 30 goals five times.
“I’ve learned a lot and I think if you can stay level-headed in Montreal, you can stay level-headed anywhere,” he said. “Making sure you don’t get too high or too low. Stuff that everyone says but, I mean, you go through a little bit of a rough patch in Vegas and it feels like there’s much less emphasis on it. As everybody knows, I’m stating the obvious, much less emphasis on it and much less overreaction internally and externally. I think my experience here has allowed me to kind of focus on what I can control, and going to the rink and working hard is really all that I can do in my power. And … I have four kids now. So even if I wanted to stress about things away from the rink, I don’t really have that option to do so.”
The weather must also help.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020