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There’s usually a narrative that accompanies any player stuck playing under the microscope of a hockey-mad market like Toronto or Montreal.
There are a few notable examples of players thriving once they skip town, with the likes of former Maple Leafs Phil Kessel and Nazem Kadri earning Stanley Cups not long after swapping sweaters. However, some players seem to prefer that kind of pressure-cooker environment, and Max Pacioretty sounds like he’s that kind of player.
It’s been an eventful offseason for Pacioretty, who was dealt by the Vegas Golden Knights to the Carolina Hurricanes in July. Not long after the trade, he appeared on an episode of the Raw Knuckles podcast and talked about the pressures of playing in a market like Montreal.
Conversely, Pacioretty had some critiques about the lack of accountability in Sin City, especially after the Golden Knights were expected to be playoff contenders and wound up missing the postseason.
“If we had a bad year like this, the city would be half on fire Here we are showing up to the rink, and it’s 80 degrees, and it’s sunny, and we’re getting our car washed, getting our organic food, and playing golf,” Pacioretty said.
“I was kind of like, ‘We’ve got to police this thing better amongst each other.’ I don’t want to say it was a country club, but you have no one from the outside holding you accountable.”
Vegas shocked everyone in their debut season when they reached the Stanley Cup Final before losing to the Washington Capitals. Since that high-water mark in 2017-18, the team has been in a steady decline, even failing to make the playoffs for the first time in franchise history last season.
Questionable trades and signings have put the team up against the salary cap and made it hard to engineer a quick fix to their floundering situation. Instead, the team is on their third coach in five seasons after hiring Bruce Cassidy this offseason.
It’s interesting to hear this take from Pacioretty, who has now played in environments at both ends of this spectrum.
He acknowledged that the focus on the Canadiens is extreme — something Raw Knuckles host and former Montreal enforcer Chris “Knuckles” Nilan would be very familiar with — but he’s making a good point about Vegas.
While the team has quickly amassed a loyal following and made T-Mobile Arena a difficult arena for visiting teams, it’s not the pressure cooker seen in places like Montreal.
It’s hard to argue against Las Vegas being a more pleasant place to play for an NHLer. In Vegas, you can leave the practice facility after a morning skate in February wearing shorts and flip-flops and spend their off days hitting the links to blow off a little steam. You can’t do that in Montreal without catching what they (probably) call “le frostbite.”
It remains to be seen how the man they call “Patches” will fare in Raleigh. The Hurricanes look to be on course for another solid season, and it’s clear that Pacioretty’s aspirations are sky high.