Pa­cioretty set for new chap­ter with Knights

The Prince George Citizen - - Sports -

LAS VE­GAS — When Max Pa­cioretty told his kids he had been traded from the Montreal Cana­di­ens, one of his three sons pointed to his bed­sheets cov­ered in NHL team lo­gos and asked which one was Ve­gas.

Prob­lem is, the sheets were pre-Golden Knights. In­stead, he showed his sons a YouTube video of the team’s pregame ex­trav­a­ganza dur­ing the play­offs. They quickly be­came ex­cited, and they weren’t the only ones.

“When we came here and we played them... it was one of the most amaz­ing hockey ex­pe­ri­ences in my life,” Pa­cioretty said Wed­nes­day at his in­tro­duc­tory news con­fer­ence. “I’m re­ally look­ing for­ward to it. It’s a first-class or­ga­ni­za­tion that I’m proud to be a part of.”

The 29-year-old Pa­cioretty, who was traded Sun­day and im­me­di­ately signed to a $28 mil­lion, four-year con­tract ex­ten­sion that runs through the 2022-23 sea­son, said coach Ger­ard Gal­lant and gen­eral man­ager Ge­orge McPhee made it clear he was be­ing brought into an or­ga­ni­za­tion that is ready to com­pete for a Stan­ley Cup again.

Add in the re­search he did about the com­mu­nity, his fa­mil­iar­ity with Gal­lant, who was an as­sis­tant in Montreal in 2012, and the suc­cess of the team in its inau­gu­ral sea­son, and the All-Star felt it was a good time to re­lo­cate.

“I feel I have the op­por­tu­nity right now to just get back to what I loved do­ing as a kid, and that’s just go­ing out there and hav­ing fun and play­ing hockey,” Pa­cioretty said. “They play a fast game, they’re all on the same page ev­ery sin­gle night and they play for each other. They men­tioned that there’s go­ing to be 23 cap­tains on the team this year, and I could feel that to­day with the en­ergy in the room and the ca­ma­raderie of the guys. I’m just ex­cited to be a part of that.”

Pa­cioretty, who had 17 goals and 20 as­sists last sea­son with Montreal, said he is also ex­cited to be re­united with vet­eran cen­tre Paul Stastny, whom the Knights signed ear­lier this year. The Pa­cioretty-Stastny tan­dem will be fa­mil­iar to fans of past ver­sions of the U.S. men’s na­tional hockey team and could prove to be an up­grade to a sec­ond line that lost James Neal and David Per­ron in free agency.

“Ev­ery time we play for Team USA, we are line­mates. Our wives are friends, our par­ents are friends, we’re friends, we do have chem­istry,” Pa­cioretty said. “He’s a very re­li­able cen­tre who takes care of his end, slows down the game, more of a give-and-go player, that’s why I like play­ing with him a lot.

“Just to come in and know that you have pre­vi­ous chem­istry with an­other player and that that’s al­ways an op­tion is a com­fort­ing feel­ing. And also know­ing that we’re go­ing through the process of be­ing new play­ers in an or­ga­ni­za­tion to­gether is an­other com­fort­ing feel­ing.”

For­ward Reilly Smith, who ranked fourth on the team with 60 points last sea­son, said the ad­di­tion of some­one with Pa­cioretty’s re­sume can ben­e­fit each player in­di­vid­u­ally, bring­ing out the best in ev­ery­one.

“It’s al­ways nice to bol­ster your lineup a lit­tle bit,” Smith said. “He’s a gifted goalscorer, he’s able to move up and down the ice with any­body else in the league. It’ll be ex­cit­ing to add his speed, it’ll help quicken up the pace. I think we like play­ing a fast style and his game suits that.”

Smith joked that goal­tender and team prankster Marc-An­dre Fleury hadn’t in­di­cated how he’ll wel­come Pa­cioretty, say­ing “Flower usu­ally keeps it pretty tight-knit (and) doesn’t tell too many peo­ple.”

While Pa­cioretty said he en­joyed his ten­ure with the Cana­di­ens and is thank­ful for the ca­reer and re­la­tion­ships he es­tab­lished while in Montreal, he said he is ready for change.

“If I had got taken by Ve­gas in the ex­pan­sion draft, I wouldn’t be feel­ing the way I am to­day,” Pa­cioretty said.

“Ev­ery­one had a lot of ques­tion marks about what this fran­chise was go­ing to be like. No­body knew this was go­ing to turn into a hockey town. I’m very ex­cited to be in Ve­gas, this is a new chap­ter of my life. I’m ready to be a part of some­thing that they’re build­ing here in Ve­gas that’s very spe­cial, so I’m very hon­oured to be here.”

AP PHOTO

Newly-ac­quired Ve­gas Golden Knights left winger Max Pa­cioretty speaks dur­ing a news con­fer­ence in Las Ve­gas on Wed­nes­day.

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