The team announcement:
Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin announced tonight the signing of forward Max Pacioretty to a six-year contract extension (2013-14 to 2018-19). As per club policy, financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
Pacioretty, 23, completed his fourth season in the NHL in 2011-12, leading the team in scoring with a personal career-high of 65 points. He ranked second on the team in goals (33) and third in assists (32). He finished fourth in the NHL in even strength goals (29). In 79 games last season Pacioretty scored five winning goals and totaled 286 shots on goal (tied for 10th in the NHL). The forward served 56 penalty minutes, maintained a +2 plus/minus differential and recorded 104 hits, while playing an average of 18:15 per game.
Pacioretty was the 2011-12 recipient of the Bill Masterton Trophy in the NHL, a true example of perseverance, determination and dedication to the game. He returned to action in 2011-12 after missing the team’s last 15 regular season games and the playoffs in 2010-11, with a fractured neck and a concussion suffered on March 8, 2011 against Boston. Pacioretty launched the Max Pacioretty Foundation, to help the Montreal General Hospital Foundation raise the funds needed towards acquiring a Functional MRI machine (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) for the Traumatic Brain Injury Centre at the MGH/MUHC.
Since 2008-09, Pacioretty has registered 114 points (53 goals, 61 assists) in 202 NHL regular-season games. The 6’2’’, 210 lbs left winger has recorded 142 penalty minutes. Pacioretty has scored 12 of his goals on the powerplay and added seven game winning goals.
A native of New Canaan, Connecticut, Pacioretty was drafted in the first-round, 22nd overall by the Canadiens at the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. On March 8, 2012, he became the first American-born player in team history to reach the 30- goal plateau in one season, scoring in an empty net against the Oilers in Edmonton.
Here’s Elliotte Friedman’s Hockey Night in Canada feature on Pacioretty:
Here’s a Gazette feature Dave Stubbs wrote on Pacioretty in June:
Max Pacioretty skated last summer – day after day after day.
Recovering to full strength from a fractured vertebra and severe concussion that ended his 2010-11 season 22 games early, the Canadiens forward made up for lost time on ice, and then some.
“I took so much time off with my injury (15 regular-season games and seven in the playoffs), and I was so concerned about my head, that I just wanted to skate as much as possible,” Pacioretty said from his home in Connecticut.
“It caught up with me a couple times during the year.”
You’d not have known it, the 23-year-old enjoying a breakthrough season with a career-high 33 goals and a team-high 65 points.
In so doing, Pacioretty emphatically dismissed any fears about his post-injury durability, the only three games he missed in 2011-12 the result of a suspension.
But still, he believes his ferocious offseason skating regimen took a toll, so he’s come up with a fail-safe solution to keep from over-training on ice this summer.
“I’m having my parents hide my hockey bag for a bit,” Pacioretty said, laughing, his protective mom and dad just down the road. “I’ve got a charity game the middle of July and I think that’s when I’m going to pull the bag out and dust it off. I’ll try to skate as much as possible from that date forward. But not until then.”
Pacioretty this week takes a mini-vacation, as he calls it, flying Monday with his wife, Katia, to Las Vegas for Wednesday’s NHL awards. With Toronto’s Joffrey Lupul and Ottawa’s Daniel Alfredsson, he’s a finalist for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, presented annually to the player selected by a media ballot who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to the game.
A victory Wednesday would bring Pacioretty to the microphone for a few words of acceptance. Public speaking isn’t his favourite pastime, but he’s been getting much better, given his work representing his foundation that’s raising funds for the purchase of a diagnostic/ treatment machine for the Montreal General Hospital’s Traumatic Brain Injury Centre.
“I’ve watched those awards quite often and the guys give pretty standard speeches,” Pacioretty said. “If I do win, I’ll probably go with just an ordinary speech – but I’ll still be pretty nervous.”
Award festivities include a Tuesday golf tournament, the NHL making a contribution to charities designated by the players.
“Obviously, I jumped on that opportunity,” he said. “But I’ll be coming home immediately after the awards to get back into the routine.”
Pacioretty is weeks into his dryland training. He says he’s “a lot stronger already” from his toil at Prentiss Hockey Performance in Darien, Conn., done alongside dozens of pros who include a number of Canadiens prospects.
Among workout partners are long-time friends Aaron Palushaj and Phil DeSimone, respectively property of Montreal and the Hamilton Bulldogs, who are rooming in the home of Pacioretty‘s parents, Ray and Anette.
“It’s taken off completely, a great setup for working out and skating,” Pacioretty said of the Prentiss Centre that for five years has been his summer fitness base, one that advertises a focus on structural balance, speed and strength, power, agility, body composition and nutrition.
He and Katia expect to be in Montreal on July 23, their first wedding anniversary, when Pacioretty helps out at the elite session of the Canadiens hockey school in Brossard.
“Probably better than my working out last year the morning after our wedding,” he said, laughing again.
Pacioretty took about a week off after the Canadiens season ended April 7, then jumped back into training for the IIHF World Hockey Championship in Helsinki, representing his native U.S. for the first time in senior competition.
His two goals and 10 assists in eight games led his country, the Americans ultimately falling to Finland in the tournament’s quarterfinals.
“Worlds were definitely an eye-opener and I learned a lot about my game and what I have to improve,” he said. “To be honest, it looked like I played really well but I don’t think I played as well as my numbers showed.
“On that big (200×100-foot) ice, I was playing a little too much on the perimeter and it was tough to get to the front of the net or bring the puck there. I wish I could have done a little more of that.
“It was a frustrating finish. I thought we were one of the most balanced teams there, at least capable of getting a medal.”
There’s no question Pacioretty‘s performance has put his name on USA Hockey’s radar for the 2014 Sochi Olympics, assuming NHL players take part in the Games in Russia.
“I hope I’m in the back of their minds,” he said of the brass. “I have to continue to improve and impress before Sochi. There are a lot of areas where I can improve my game and I hope I can address those in the summer and during the year, as well, to show them I can be even better than I was at Worlds.”
Pacioretty returned home immediately after the tournament then headed to Florida for a short vacation, having fled Connecticut to avoid the temptation of training with his friends.
Down south, he dramatic-ally improved his tennis fore-hands and backhands with Katia, an instructor and former touring pro.
“I can’t wait to come to (Habs training) camp and play against Davey and Pleky,” Pacioretty said of tennis devotees David Deshar-nais and Tomas Plekanec.
“I was so bad last year. Pleky can hit the ball really well. Davey’s athletic and he was a bit better than me last summer, but hopefully I can keep playing this summer and catch up to him.
“I hear that (defenceman Tomas) Kaberle is one of the best tennis players in the league. Maybe I’ll con those guys into a doubles match and get Katia on my team.”
Once he puts down his racquet, Pacioretty will find a dramatically new Canadiens management team calling the shots for a 2012-13 roster that’s far from being set.
He’s not yet spoken with new general manager Marc Bergevin, coach Michel Therrien or any of their staff.
“But I’ve been in touch with guys who do know them and I’ve heard nothing but positive things,” Pacioretty said. “It’s going to be important that we all go in on the same page, thinking positively about the season.”
Until then, he’ll continue to train. And he’ll interact with fans by typing a little more on his largely quiet Twitter ac-count.
Memorably, he sought ad-vice from his 80,000-plus followers this month regarding two egg-laying snapping turtles that had arrived on his lawn. The beasts left on their own, coincidentally not long after former Canadiens defenceman Hal Gill had help-fully tweeted a recommendation of tasty turtle soup and egg sandwiches.
“It’s been nice to get away from – no offence – the media and all types of things like that for awhile, to rest the brain,” Pacioretty said.
But that goalie Carey Price has joined the Twitter sphere this off-season hasn’t escaped his eye.
“Maybe,” Pacioretty said brightly, “it’s time I got back on Twitter just to give Pricer a hard time.”
Pacioretty, Price and Gill on Twitter: @MaxPacioretty67, @CP0031, @Skillsy75