Au revoir, Montreal: Pacioretty ready to shine for Knights

Updated October 3, 2018 - 5:15 pm

To understand the long and winding and sometimes difficult road Max Pacioretty traveled to get here — star winger on a second line for a Golden Knights team that opens its second season on Thursday night against the Flyers at T-Mobile Arena — you have to remember 1991.

He wasn’t yet 3 years old.

It was the year Edmonton Oilers great Mark Messier issued a public trade demand, saying he wanted out if the team wasn’t willing to re-sign important players.

So it went that, in one of many cost-cutting moves by management, Edmonton dealt Messier to the New York Rangers.

“If that doesn’t happen,” Pacioretty said, “I’m probably not here.”

He probably never glides across a sheet of ice.

Three years after arriving in New York, Messier would lead the Rangers to their first Stanley Cup title in 54 years, and watching from their home in Connecticut was a father and his 5-year old son, learning the game together, falling in love with it together, creating the sort of inseparable bond that sports have a way of forming.

Soon after, Pacioretty was being fitted for a pair of skates at a local rink and, well, you might guess the rest, but it’s still a doozy of a tale.

His parents met while attending different high schools in San Francisco, his mother Ana born and raised in Mexico and his father Ray eventually setting the family back East.

If they had remained on the West Coast, it’s fairly certain Pacioretty wouldn’t have grown up to be one of the NHL’s most consistent goal scorers.

He would have had a better chance shooting at a net on grass than one on ice.

But he didn’t and Pacioretty has 30 or more goals in six of his last eight pro hockey seasons, here now after the Knights traded Tomas Tatar, prospect Nick Suzuki and a second-round pick to Montreal for him.

I’m not sure he has stopped smiling since things were finalized last month and he had signed a four-year, $28 million extension with Vegas. Pacioretty’s final season in Montreal was beyond forgettable on one of the league’s worst teams and himself limited to 64 games and 17 goals while dealing with an injured knee.

Captain of pressure

There was also the weight of a giant C.

Imagine if Derek Jeter had been born and raised in, say, Colombia, and still played for the Yankees, and was still named their captain, with all the pressures of understanding and embracing the championships and Hall of Fame names and history immortalized at Monument Park.

It might be how an American hockey player felt at times as captain of the Canadiens, because if 23 Stanley Cups don’t get get you a little tight sometimes, what will?

You can seek advice from some of the all-time Montreal greats — Saku Koivu, Guy Carbonneau, Serge Savard, Yvan Cournoyer — and Pacioretty did.

But nothing prepares you for wearing that specific letter on that particular sweater.

“I absolutely wanted to be (captain),” said Pacioretty, who held the honor his last three seasons in Montreal. “It’s never easy, especially there and during a losing season. Staying even keel is the only way to get through it.

“That said, it was tough. Last year was heavy. I was prepared to get through it and bounce back. I’m still prepared to bounce back — it just so happens that I’m in Vegas now — so I hope to bounce back here.”

He has a group of new teammates who are certain he will, who believe the chance to merely play on a second line and not feel the glaring pressure of everyone’s eyes on him to make a daily difference and return the 29-year-old Pacioretty to his 30-goal form.

This includes the most famous player in the room, who — as a native of Quebec — knows all about the often unfair expectations thrust upon a Canadiens captain.

“When that team wins, I’m sure you’re on top of the world,” said Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, “and when you lose, you’re the worst in the world. It’s definitely a tough market to play in. Max is a really good player, has a lot of character. I can’t imagine being in his shoes there. But it seems like he’s very happy here, very relaxed.

“He smiles a lot.”

It’s the byproduct of a weight the size of the Mount Royal Cross being lifted from one’s shoulders.

Hey, even Mark Messier once needed a change of scenery.

More Golden Knights: Follow all of our Golden Knights coverage online at reviewjournal.com/GoldenKnights and @HockeyinVegas on Twitter.

Contact columnist Ed Graney at egraney@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4618. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
Golden Knights Videos
Golden Edge: Golden Knights Put up Record Amount Shots but Fall Short - VIDEO
The Vegas Golden Knights lose to the Winnipeg Jets 4-1. In the second period the Knights put up a record number of shots on goal but still go back to the locker room down 2-0. David Schoen reports from Winnipeg.
Gallant: Knights played a 'good game' vs. Winnipeg
Gerard Gallant says the Knights played a good game in the loss to Winnipeg on Jan. 15, 2019. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gallant on Golden Knights power play
Gerard Gallant talks about the Golden Knight power play vs. Winnipeg on Jan. 15, 2019. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gerard Gallant on loss to Winnipeg
Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant talks about the team's loss to Winnipeg on Jan. 15, 2019. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Edge Mailbag: Will Brandon Pirri be an official Knight? - VIDEO
Ben Gotz and Adam Hill go over the Golden Knights fans reactions to Jonathan Machessault not making the NHL all star roster and Brandon Pirri potentially joining the Knights.
Gerard Gallant on Winnipeg
Gerard Gallant talks about continuing to play good hockey in Winnipeg. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gallant on facing Winnipeg
Gerard Gallant talks about trying to take 2 points in Winnipeg. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights Win In Overtime Against Blackhawks - VIDEO
The Golden Knights win 4-3 in overtime against the Blackhawks with Shea Theodore scoring the game winning goal. Golden Knights beat writer David Schoen goes over the Knights comeback win.
Gallant on Carpenter goal
Gallant on win
Gallant on overturned goal
Gallant CHI 1
Theodore CHI
Golden Knights Win Streak Ends Against Sharks - VIDEO
The Golden Knights win streak ends after a loss against the San Jose Sharks. Golden Knights reporters David Schoen and Adam Hill go over the Knights giving up two goals in the third period and how the team will recover on the road.
Golden Knights React To Loss Against Sharks - VIDEO
The Golden Knights react to their 3-2 loss against the Sharks including Marc-Andre Fleury, Max Pacioretty and head coach Gerard Gallant.
Golden Edge: Knights beat Rangers for 7th straight win
The RJ's David Schoen and Adam Hill recap the Golden Knights' win over the New York Rangers on January 8, 2019.
CES 2019: VR Hockey Trainer Sense Arena - VIDEO
CES 2019 has a lot of VR options, but none quite as cool for Golden Knights fans as Sense Arena. Former NHL Jan Ludvig and Patrik Eliáš talk about the future benefits and possibilities of technology like this. Eliáš also talks about his experience at his first Golden Knights game this past Sunday when the knights faced off against his former team the New Jersey Devils.
Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant talks on Jan. 7
Gallant talked about forward Brandon Pirri being recalled, injuries and more.
Golden Edge Mailbag - January 7, 2019 - VIDEO
Reporters Ben Gotz and Adam Hill go over all your burning VGK questions and comments
Gallant says the Golden Knights need to keep pressing
Vegas Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant on how important it is that the team keep playing tough down the stretch as things as the race for the top in the Pacific Division remains close.
Golden Edge: Golden Knights Rally Behind Subban
The Vegas Golden Knights pick up their 6th win in a row scoring 3 goals to come back from a 2-0 New Jersey lead. Adam Hill, Ben Gotz, and Dave Schoen report from T-Mobile arena.
Golden Knights on their comeback victory over the the Devils
Vegas Golden Knights players reflect on their come-from-behind win over the New Jersey Devils. Max Pacioretty talks about the becoming a father for the fourth time and then playing.
UNLV hockey program aims for NCAA Division I status
As the hockey culture continues to grow in Las Vegas, UNLV looks to develop its hockey program and eventually reach NCAA division I status. Video produced by Heidi Fang
Schmidt 3rd periods 2
Schmidt 3rd periods
Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant talks on Jan. 5
Gallant talked about the team’s recent run of success in the third period, the schedule and more.
Golden Knights On Five Game Win Streak After Beating Ducks: Golden Edge - VIDEO
The Golden Knights are now on a five game winning streak after beating the Anaheim Ducks 3-2. Golden Knights reporter Adam Hill goes over the Knights win.
Golden Edge: Golden Knights Win with another Goal from Brandon Pirri
The Vegas Golden Knights defeat the LA Kings 2-0 with another goal from Brandon Pirri and shutout number 6 from Marc-Andre Fleury. David Schoen and Adam Hill repot from T-Mobile arena.
Pirri, Fleury on the Golden Knights shutout win over the Kings
Brandon Pirri and Marc-Andre Fleury discuss the team's play that led to the Vegas Golden Knights win over the L.A. Kings.
Golden Edge: Knights Win Big Against Coyotes
The Golden Knights defeat the Arizona Coyotes after scoring three goals in the third period and allowing one goal from a 5-on-3 power play. Golden Knights reporter Ben Gotz breaks down the highlights from the game.
Closing Out 2018 With The Golden Knights
With 2018 coming to a close, Golden Edge host Cassie Soto shares some of the highlights from the end of the Golden Knights inaugural season and the start of year two. While there were many big sports stories in 2018, none might be as historic as what the Golden Knights were able to accomplish in their first year of competition. The team joined the 1967-68 St. Louis Blues as the only professional baseball, basketball, football or hockey team to make it to the championship round. Although the Golden Knights fell short in their hunt to the hoisting the Stanley Cup, the team was able to unite the city of Las Vegas unlike anything ever before and for that, the community thanks them.
Golden Edge: Golden Knights fefeat Kings giving Subban his first win
The Vegas Golden Knights defeat the LA Kings 4-1 and Malcolm Subban gets his first win on the season reported by Ben Gotz and Adam Hill from Los Angeles.
Ryan Reaves describes the flavors in Training Day beer
Ryan Reaves talks about the flavor of Training Day, the new beer from 7Five Brewing that was launched at the PKWY Tavern on West Flamingo Road. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
2018: The Golden Year
The Golden Knights started off the year strong by making it to the Stanley Cup Finals and held many community to be closer with the fans.
Golden Knight Lee Orchard Discusses Career
Golden Knight Lee Orchard discusses his career and what he loves most about being part of an NHL team in Las Vegas.
Ryan Reaves describes his new beer
Golden Knights winger Ryan Reaves talks about his new beer from 7Five Brewing at a launch party at PKWY Tavern on West Flamingo Road. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ryan Reaves visits tavern to launch his beer brand
Ryan Reaves visits the Parkway Tavern to sign autographs for fans and get reactions about his new beer called training day.
Golden Edge: Knights get back in the win column at home
After losing two games in overtime on the road, the Vegas Golden Knights returned home to score a victory over the Colorado Avalanche. David Schoen and Ben Gotz analyze the team's 2-1 victory in their final home game of 2018.
Fleury, Pirri and Stastny recap Golden Knights win over Avalanche
After their 2-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche, Marc-Andre Fleury, Brandon Pirri and Paul Stastny recap the team's performance.
Gallant says Golden Knights were recharged after 3 days off
Vegas Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant talks about the team's win over the Colorado Avalanche and says the time off helped the team perform better.
Golden Knights Suffer Second Consecutive Overtime Loss
The Golden Knights fell to the Kings 4-3 in overtime and will enter the holiday break on a two-game losing streak. Golden Edge reporters Adam Hill and Ben Gotz discuss the loss.
Golden Knights Discuss Overtime Loss to Kings
Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, defenseman Nate Schmidt and head coach Gerard Gallant discuss the 4-3 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Kings ahead of the holiday break.
Golden Knights Owner Bill Foley Talks About First Season
Golden Knights Owner Bill Foley talks about the Knights phenomenal first season of the NHL and how they hope to continue the momentum this season.
Golden Knights Fall To Canadiens In Overtime
Golden Knights lose to the Canadiens 4-3 in overtime. Golden Knights beat reporter David Schoen, Adam Hill and Ben Gotz go over the Knights loss and how Marc-Andre Fleury was upset after the game about a potential high sticking call.
Golden Knights React To Overtime Loss Against Canadiens
Golden Knights react to their 4-3 overtime loss against the Montreal Canadiens.
Golden Knights Santa Surprises Kids with Gifts
Santa (Ryan Reaves) and his helpful elf (Will Carrier) surprised a lucky group of kids with Golden Knights swag and tickets to a game.
Golden Knights Owner Bill Foley Visits Review Journal Studios
Golden Knights owner Bill Foley made some time to tour the Las Vegas Review Journal Studios and sat down with Adam Hill and Ben Gotz for a podcast segment, as well as Ed Graney for an in-studio interview.
Golden Edge: Knights rally to beat the Islanders
Ben Gotz, Adam Hill and David Schoen of the Review-Journal recap the Golden Knights win over the Islanders in their return to the T-Mobile Arena from a 4-game road trip.
Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant previews Islanders game
Gallant discussed William Carrier’s hot streak, shuffling his lines and more.
Gallant NY 4
Gallant NY 3
Gallant NY 2
Gallant NY 1
Gallant NJ 3
Gallant NJ 2
Gallant NJ 1
Golden Knights center Paul Stastny on rejoining the lineup
Golden Knights center Paul Stastny on rejoining the lineup. David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Golden Knights center Paul Stastny discusses his injury
Golden Knights center Paul Stastny discusses his injury. David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Knights center Paul Stastny discusses his return to the ice
Knights center Paul Stastny discusses his return to the ice. David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Deryk Engelland at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas was a new experience for Golden Knights defenseman Deryk Engelland on Wednesday night. He said he was looking forward to spending time with family and going for a skate, as well as lighting the Christmas tree for fans.
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like