Pacioretty unveiled in Switzerland

Max Pacioretty

By Andrea Branca and Nicola Martinetti
Special to Hockey Inside/Out

ASCONA, Switzerland – Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty was introduced to the Swiss hockey media Wednesday at a news conference to unveil HC Ambri Piotta’s newest acquisition.

Pacioretty, who led the Canadiens with 65 points in his 79 games last season, will be in Ambrì through the NHL lockout thanks to the “Seven Group” (that financially made his signing possible) and the great job of GM Jean-Jacques Aeschlimann.

“Pacioretty comes from an Original Six club, Aeschlimann said, “but also in Ambrì we have a great hockey tradition, even though we play in a small village.

“We are very proud to welcome Max to our team. Right now we are waiting for the international transfer and his work permit. We hope to get this done before Friday, when Pacioretty could play his first game in Ambrì against Fribourg Gotteron.”

Pacioretty will be coached by Kevin Constantine, who during his NHL career led the San Jose Sharks (1993-96), Pittsburgh Penguins (1997-2000) and New Jersey Devils (2001-02). About Pacioretty, Constantine said:

“We are lucky to have Max Pacioretty on our team. The NHL lockout is a tricky situation to handle. Fortunately in our organization we have people who faced this situation in the past. The most important thing to us was to bring to Ambrì a highly motivated player, willing to give everything for our club. With Max we definitely did that!”

At the end of the news conference, we had the chance to ask Pacioretty a few questions in a 10-minute interview.

He explained that it was “an honor to be here. I grew up dreaming of playing in the NHL, but I also learned the importance of the European leagues. I understand that right now I’m on a special team with a strong tradition. The rink speaks for itself. Right there you can actually feel the history of this hockey club (75 years old). Like in Montreal, here the players wear the jersey with a strong sense of pride.”

In Montreal you play with two Wwiss defenceman, Yannick Weber and Raphael Diaz. What did they tell you about Switzerland last year? Did you contact them before accepting Ambrì’s offer?

“Yes, I told Diaz that I had the chance to come to Switzerland during the lockout and he explained me how competitive this league is and how great is living in this country. I can’t wait to meet them on the ice, I’m thrilled by this experience.”

A new meeting between NHL and NHLPA is scheduled Friday… What’s your opinion about the lockout? How much do you think is going to last?

“I don’t see them finding a solution quickly. I think that Gary Bettman and the owners will go on with their politics, but I don’t see that as a problem. I’m in a great situation here in Switzerland, I’ve been here only for two days but I already understand why people loves this place. I can’t wait to play, I’m hungry and focused on my new club and I hope to help them doing what I can do best: play hockey.”

Last year you played your first entire NHL season. How does it feels to be in a small club that plays in a small village?

“I’ve never seen anything like this before! I wasn’t sure about what I could expect, but once my plane took off I stopped thinking about it and until now everything worked perfectly. I hope to help Ambrì on the ice, during the games, but also off the ice.”

Last season you played great, but the Canadiens ended their season at the bottom of the Eastern Conference…

“Ice hockey is all about playing together. I did everything I could to help my teammates and my organization, but it wasn’t enough. I work hard during the summer and it’s curious that here in Ambrì we are in a situation which is very similar to the situation back in Montreal (Ambri has missed the playoffs the past six seasons). I’ll jump into this adventure with both feet and I’ll use my motivation to help the team.”

Last year you won the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy…

“If you want to improve and be the best, you have to be very competitive and I think that this gave me the motivation necessary to get back on the ice after my injury. The support of the people in Montreal was amazing, and my friends and family were close to me every day. I believed that I could come back stronger than ever… and I did it.”

What can you tell us about your first practice with your new team?

“I skated this morning with the guys and everyone was very kind with me. Being here feels incredible, but it will be even better if we could win a couple of games in the next days.”

With thanks to the authors and a terrific website in Switzerland, From its creator: Andrea “Andy” Branca is the founder and administrator of, a Swiss website that covers everything happens in Swiss ice hockey, with a close eye to HC Ambrì Piotta and HC Lugano. Andrea has a bachelor of science in communication and a master degree in media management, and successfully runs his blog thanks to the help of a few friends that makes this website a great reality.

Below: Max Pacioretty at Wednesday’s news conference displays his Ambri Piotta jersey, which he’ll wear in the Swiss A League. He’s flanked by coach Kevin Constantine (left) and general manager GM Jean-Jacques Aeschliman.
Courtesy Andrea Branca,


  1. HabsPEI31 says:

    Anybody know what number MaxPac will be playing with on his jersey? It would be sweet if he got to keep #67…

    “Only a goalie can appreciate what a goalie goes through.” – Jacques Plante

  2. JohnBellyful says:

    (But was there ever any doubt?)

  3. otter649 says:

    Kevin Constantine was drafted as a goalie from R.P.I. in 1978 by The Habs…..

  4. kempie says:

    Charles Hudon with a hat trick & an assist tonight in Chicoutimi’s 4-3 W over Victoriaville. This kid’s rolling pretty good.

  5. Habitant in Surrey says:

    …just re-watched Guy Boucher’s ceremonial opening pitch (using his hockey stick) at a Tampa Bay baseball game …it’s still as wow ! as the first time I watched 🙂

  6. Asked if he would play in Europe Colby Armstrong said:

    “No I won’t do that. I don’t want to do that. I think i’ll just stay here with the guys. Some guys have jobs over there and then guys come in and take other people’s jobs. I’m a union guy, so i’ll just sit with my guys and wait.
    The greatest Canadiens and NHL news-site:

    • Habitant in Surrey says:

      …I can not say I do not admire Colby’s position and sense of honor …but a Player’s peak and ‘time’ is so finite, and hockey is all about competition, not only team vs team, but also player vs player on one’s own team
      …it’s a moral conundrum, but I don’t think I would sit idly by and see My short time as an athlete dissipate

    • Phil C says:

      The guy is coming off a series of bad injuries, including a concussion. I’m sure he has no intent of playing until he has to. Sounds like BS.

    • Andy and the habs says:

      Stupid comment if you ask me. Other player signing to play elsewhere are basically saying to Buttman “to hell with your politics, I’m playing no matter what”.

      And his comment is a cheap shot at those who went to play in Europe. I’m hope he won’t be the cancer in the dressing room.

      • arcosenate says:

        I am glad he said that, he’s right, they’re taking food off the table of their “fellow” players. Cutting their salaries in half to play in a league below if they’re lucky to get a job at all. And all so these millionaire players can kill some time waiting for their real jobs to come back. There’s nothing good about this situation.

        • chemic says:

          sound very reasonable and kind of fair towards these “average joe`s” here, but why should someone sign Colby Armstrong during the lockout when you can geta guy like Zetterberg, Tavares or Giroux?

  7. habsfan0 says:

    Watching Game 8 of the 1972 Canada-USSR Summit series on TSN,I’m struck by how many items surrounding the game were in use in Europe and USSR then,but still years away from being regular features in North America at NHL level:1)Soviet players all wearing helmets,2)semi circle arc goal crease,3)advertising on boards(advertising!In the heart of the Communist world!).

  8. neumann103 says:

    Kevin Constantine appears to have lost a ton of weight. Swiss mountain air doing him some good?

    “Et le but!”

  9. Habitant in Surrey says:

    …Ambri Piotta’s location must be in the Italian-quarter of Switzerland
    …if I was Gorges, Carey, Cole, Gionta or any of Our other Players, I wouldn’t waste time in Montreal waiting any longer, I would love to play in Europe (Russia not so much 🙂 ) …especially Scandanavia, Switzerland or Germany, to keep My juices flowing and My skills sharp
    …or, organize competitive travelling ‘exhibition’ games in North America, if feasible

  10. JayK-47 says:

    And the drought/flood method of rolling out new posts continues…

  11. frontenac1 says:

    Ah ,There is Max! Good luck Amigo! And thanks to HIO for getting Bettmans face of the screen. Los Habs Para Siempre!

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