Pacioretty voted Habs nominee for 2012 Masterton Trophy

Max Pacioretty

Canadiens’ Max Pacioretty enjoys a light moment with linemate Erik Cole before the team’s Feb. 28 game in Tampa Bay.
Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images

The Gazette

Because Max Pacioretty isn’t a big fan of comic books, the Wolverine association is a bit of a stretch.

Which is too bad, really, because the virtually bulletproof, absurdly durable Canadiens forward, announced Tuesday night as his team’s nominee for the 2012 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, seems to have the same metal-alloy adamantium core and mutant healing factor as the iconic Marvel Comics hero.

Yes, Pacioretty did play collegiate hockey for the Michigan Wolverines. And his hometown is New Canaan, Conn., just 35 kilometres from the Westchester County, N.Y., fantasy mansion of Professor Charles Xavier, training base of the X-Men and site of the prof’s school for mutant teenagers.

But Pacioretty’s indestructibility is quite real, given there have been no reports of his tripping airport metal detectors because of an adamantium skeleton.

And besides, Marvel’s Wolverine, born in northern Alberta in the late 1800s, is a Calgary Flames fan, according to the comics storyline.

But still…

Pacioretty was voted the Canadiens’ Masterton nominee by the Montreal chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association, their announcement made at 9 p.m. Tuesday.

The Masterton annually goes to the player “who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.” The award was created in 1968 to honour the memory of Minnesota North Stars forward Bill Masterton, who died that Jan. 15 from injuries suffered upon striking his head on the ice.

The criteria are broad, but the award has in recent years become a bit of a comeback prize. There’s little question that Pacioretty’s dramatic return from last season’s career-threatening injuries has been one for the books – if not an engraved brass shield on the Masterton.

“It’s a huge honour any time you’re recognized individually,” Pacioretty said Tuesday night upon being informed of his selection. “It’s a great honour, but any time I’m asked questions about personal success, it makes me think how much more rewarding the feeling would be if we were in the playoff picture right now.

“You almost feel a little bit selfish getting too excited about a personal goal or nomination like this, but you wouldn’t be human if you weren’t. So obviously, I am very excited about it.”

David Desharnais had strong support for the Masterton nod among media voters. Little Davey, the undrafted revelation who’s been playing hugely between Pacioretty and Erik Cole on the Canadiens’ No. 1 line, is delighted for the nominee.

“Everybody knew from the get-go that this guy was special,” Desharnais said of Pacioretty. “He has a good shot, he’s a good skater who has good ability. He’s just proved this season that he’s one of the best.

“To overcome a broken neck the way he has is unbelievable.”

Comparatively speaking, then, the vicious shot that Pacioretty took off his right ankle Monday in Buffalo was merely a graze.

It was hardly a surprise that Pacioretty returned to Monday’s game less than a period after having literally crawled off the ice and been helped to the dressing room, having skated into the shooting lane to block a shot.

This is the same player who has fashioned a magnificent comeback this season from his famously fractured vertebra and severe concussion.

The same player who 14 months ago was stretchered to hospital from Buffalo’s First Niagara Centre after having taken a point blast in the ribs from teammate James Wisniewski.

Precautions were taken to ensure that Pacioretty had not suffered heart damage from Wisnieski’s heavy shot, but he strolled onto the Canadiens charter back to Montreal that night then scored and assisted two nights later in Ottawa.

Pacioretty’s wife, Katia, said that while her husband doesn’t easily bruise, he was left black and blue by  that shot.

“Both shots in Buffalo were very painful,” he said. “But nothing in my life compares to that shot I took from Wisniewski. Same situation: no padding but it was right in the ribs. It was more painful.”

The rib cartilage injury lingered, Pacioretty recalled.

“They taped me up for Ottawa and the trainers had to make a pad that went under my shoulder pads. It looked really goofy, but they did a good job of wrapping me up real well.”

Pacioretty would be the fifth Canadiens recipient of the Masterton should he named its winner at the NHL awards ceremony in Las Vegas on June 20. PHWA members will choose the winner from 30 nominees brought forward from each club.

Claude Provost was the inaugural Masterton winner in 1968, followed by Henri Richard in 1974, Serge Savard in 1979 and Saku Koivu in 2002.

You could argue that a little bit of Wolverine lived in those four, as well.

Provost, who died in 1984, won the Stanley Cup nine times in his 1,005-game career with the Canadiens from 1955-70, scoring 254 goals but proving his greatest value to his team as a ferocious checker, a forward who played like a battleship and skated with the grace of one.

The silkier Richard won an unprecedented 11 Cups from 1955-75, a short-fused dynamite keg who succeeded Jean Béliveau as Habs captain from 1971 until his retirement four seasons later.

Savard, a Canadien from 1966-81 and winner of seven Stanley Cups in 10 playoff appearances from 1968-79, captained the team his final two years, twice returning from broken legs to anchor the defence while becoming the first defenceman to win the Conn Smythe Trophy (1969) as playoff MVP.

Koivu, captain from 1999 until his departure in 2009, was awarded the Masterton for his inspiring comeback from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and his remarkable leadership by example, both on and off the ice.

Pacioretty considers the warriors who have gone before him and says the Wolverine reference, though flattering, is perhaps a little premature.

“Hockey is a tough sport and maybe my injuries and my close calls have been magnified a little more,” he said. “But I can tell you, there are a lot of people who play game in and game out with injuries far worse than mine.”

And then he laughed.

“So maybe hold back on the nicknames for now.”


  1. ogilthorpe says:

    If Paks DOES win the masterton trophy he should dedicate it to Chara when accepting …. Can you imagine the reactions ..especially from the broadstreet bullies????

  2. PureGuava says:

    Halak stole another point for St. Louis tonight….He stopped like 192 shots.

    I thought Price looked great in the Vancouver game, but it was one of two times this season I that I can honestly say that he made a difference. Montreal has been terrible this season as a whole, and you can’t pin that on goaltending…but I will always wonder “what if?”.

    “Of course I’m crazy, but that doesn’t mean I’m wrong.”
    – Robert Anton Wilson

    • Chuck says:


      Being a Hab fan is like buying real estate: only over the long-haul will you appreciate the true value of your investment.

  3. JayK-47 says:

    I think, with all the crap he’s been through, SCOTT GOMEZ should win the Masterton. You haters.

  4. slychard says:

    Max should be a no brainer for the Masterton in my book, but I’m obviously biased. I hope he wins.

    On another subject… What does all here think about Markov going to the worlds? I for one hope he goes. He needs the ice time in game competition as another step in his knee rehabilitation, the remaining games in this NHL season will not be enough. This could only be good for him and would be a wise step in the Habs front office to let him compete and thus give a better evaluation of his progress for the coming season.
    As for the doomsday posters that say why risk the potential to injury I say, if his knee ligaments aren’t properly re-constructed then they are bound to give, better during the worlds then at the start of the next season leaving the team scrambling for more unwanted free agent scraps like Campoli to fill in his position. We all saw what that amounted to this season so why take the risk. If his knee goes (I am not expecting it to or hoping for that scenario) then his career is over and the organization can move on, make the proper selections on D for the season and have the insurance company pay for the remainder of his contract which will be off the cap.

    I hope Markov gets the ice time at the worlds as a stepping stone in his rehabilitation for next season. So. What do you say PG, BG, Molson… make it happen.

    Kiss my hAbSS!!!

  5. TorontoHabsFan says:

    Am I the only idiot staying up til 3:00 am to see if Yahoo adds Radulov so I can nab him for my keeper league?

  6. The Jackal says:

    Good for Max!
    In other news, Leaf fans are talking about tanking… yikes!

  7. jedimyrmidon says:

    Congrats to Max Pax on his perseverance and determination to overcome such a horrific injury!

    As for the Leafs, they don’t “deserve” to pick high. They went from a pretty solid playoff spot a month ago and then lost pretty much every game since then. Absolutely horrendous. Why they would be rewarded for another epic collapse is beyond me.

  8. matt jordan says:

    OH SNAP. It Looks like Jaro Halak and his little Blues team got stomped in the shootout.
    Begin the collapse.
    It’s the begin of the end in St. Louis. That’s what happens when you play a playoff calibre team that is motivated with a backbone of solid Canadian players. CRAWFORD, KEITH, SEABROOK. St. Louis is done.
    Never discount the BlackHawks

    • nickster13 says:

      As opposed to those Euro St-Louis Blues with Oshie, McDonald, Perron, Arnott, Langenbrunner, Pietrangelo, Backes? Good argument.
      Halak is a good goalie, can’t troll about that, and St-louis is a fantastic team wherther you like it or not, so this comment is pointless

      “I don’t wanna see Maurice tonight, I want the rocket!”

    • Clay says:

      Um…how does a game that made it to a shootout classify as one team getting ‘stomped’? Very puerile…

      ☞ If I agreed with you we’d both be wrong. ☜

  9. FormalWare says:

    Congrats, Patches!

    RE: the Tyler Myers 3-game suspension: Anyone else surprised he got the book thrown at him? I wasn’t sure he’d get a suspension, at all, given Shanny’s back-and-forth, this season.

    If Eller were pronounced “Ell-ay”, Larry would be #2 with a bullet!

  10. About the draft picks:

    Its a crap shoot.

    Often the second picks or later are better in the end. They are all young guys playing young guys. When the pedal hits the metal and they play against men with experience in the show? Grit and determination are better to pick for than status in the learning leagues.

    Daigle, Wickenheiser, etc. etc.

    see my blog at

    • Malreg says:

      The top 2 picks in the last 10 drafts:

      2011: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Gabriel Landeskog
      2010: Taylor Hall, Tyler Seguin
      2009: John Tavares, Victor Hedman
      2008: Steven Stamkos, Drew Doughty
      2007: Patrick Kane, James Van Riemsdyk
      2006: Erik Johnson, Jordan Staal
      2005: Sidney Crosby, Bobby Ryan
      2004: Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin
      2003: Marc-Andre Fleury, Eric Staal
      2002: Rick Nash, Kari Lehtonen

      There are only 2, maybe 3 years(and they are debatable) out of the last 10 were the 2nd overall pick ended up being better than the 1st overall pick. So, yes, having the 1st overall pick does make a difference. Of course in 2003 there were better players taken later on…

  11. DearyLeary says:

    Love you Patches!

  12. Marc10 says:

    Something we can all agree on – on ya Max. Well deserved nomination. Here’s hoping you win!

  13. habstrinifan says:

    As per CAPGEEK, below is a list of all our RFA’S for 2012.

    Considering the influx of players from the junior ranks many of the following players may be gone.

    Interesting cases Mitera( who makes over $1m) and Nash and Diaz. Why sign Diaz if you can insert a Tinordi etc.

    What about Nokelainen. And look at the salary on Geoffrion.

    If I remember the rules (and correct me if I am wrong) you do not have to make an offer to an RFA (in which case you lose them) but if you do you have to offer them an increase (I think it’s 10%).

    Considering our graduating juniors … it’s interesting

    Eller, Lars 22 1,270,833
    Geoffrion, Blake 24 1,062,500
    Bishop Hunter 24 900,000
    Engqvist Andreas 24 900,000
    Palushaj Aaron 22 883,333
    Fortier Olivier 22 875,000
    White Ryan 23 625,000
    Blunden Mike 25 615,000
    Slaney Robert 23 575,000
    Nokelainen Petteri 26 550,000
    Conboy Andrew 23 550,000
    Masse Dany 23 531,667

    Emelin Alexei 25 984,200
    Diaz Raphael 26 900,000
    Subban P.K 22 875,000
    Mitera Mark 24 1,275,000
    Nash Brendon 24 900,000
    St. Denis Frederic 26 605,000

    Price Carey 24 2,750,000

    • ProHabs says:

      Very interesting about Mitera. Why is he making so much.

    • D Mex says:

      How is it there are salaries as low as the 500-600K range ? For some reason I thought the league minimum was in the ballpark of 875K (?)

      ALWAYS Habs –
      D Mex

    • neumann103 says:


      Players like Mark Mitera are on two way contracts.

      $62.5K if he plays in the AHL for the Bulldogs.
      $825K if he was called up to the Habs

      There are also $425K of bonuses that presumably are related to NHL performance (not AHL) and structured in the very restrictive ways identified in the CBA.

      The theoretical cap hit (which would apply if he played with the big team) is the theoretical NHL salary plus the theoretical bonus.

      But the Habs are not charged any cap hit for a full time Blldog.

      And Mitera is making $62.5K

      Geoffrion has essentially the same deal.

      Hell, Lars Eller has a deal that is actually worse in some regards.

      These are all typical entry level two way deals. This is why you see it being a big deal when someone like Ryan White gets signed to a one way deal. He gets $625K regardless of whether he plays in the AHL or NHL

      “Et le but!”

    • Malreg says:

      IIRC, the reason why some of these numbers are so high, is because since there is no CBA beyond this year, all performance bonuses had to count against this years cap immediately, regardless whether or not the player reached those bonuses.

      Usually it’ll be the base salary, then if they qualify for a bonus, it will be added onto next years cap hit.

  14. Adidess says:

    And yes, would be so special to see Pacioretty win it. I enjoyed watching him late Saturday night on HNIC reflecting on what happened to him last year and the blessing of this highly successful season on a personal level.

    Somehow he found a way to turn his success into credit to his teammates, especially DD and Cole. He is easy to like.

  15. Adidess says:

    Edit: can’t

  16. Adidess says:

    I am not laughing anymore. Leafs are getting too close to our pick.

    That said, watching the Leafs in the playoffs would have been a worse feeling. So one can have it all, I guess.

    Anyone else feels like they’re ready for the season to end? If tomorrow’s game against the Sens was the last of the season, I’d be fine with that.

    • habstrinifan says:

      No I like the play of the team lately… maybe because I am watching in a more relaxed mode just looking at ‘plays’ rather than being scared of a loss.

  17. Cal says:

    Schaddenlaff! Way to go Panthers! Hahahahahahhahahahaha! 6 points for the laffs out of a possible 34 since February 7th. I luvs it, I tells ya!

    • Malreg says:

      Remember when they were in 1st place back in November? Ah how the mighty have fallen…

      They do it every year. Start of strong, slip and fall, then play well again once any talk of making the playoffs is over.

  18. FanCritic says:

    I hope Max – Pac wins the Masterton’s trophy he’s the real deal.

    • ProHabs says:

      Yup, and I hope Chara is the one at the award ceremony who gives him the trophy and MacPac does like Carey Price at the all star game and walks away without shaking his hand.

  19. habs_54321 says:

    i believe its almost time to cheer for the leafs to win they are on the verge o stealing our draft pick

    • habsfan0 says:

      I think the season finale between these two teams could be extremely important…for draft positioning.

      • FinnHabs says:

        Very sad; competing for a draft pick trying to lose to the Leafs in the last game of the season.

        Also sad thinking April 7th might be Selanne’s last game…again. Don’t be mad if I watch the Ducks Flames game instead, ok?

  20. HabinBurlington says:

    I truly hope he wins this award, in my opinion he is very deserving of it. I hope Max retires a Hab in the very distant future.

    Edit: Mr. Stubbs thanks for a very well written article, much appreciated.

  21. RGM says:

    Very well deserved.
    GO HABS GO! 2011-12 is probably not our year!
    “Scott Gomez is an elite NHL player” – VancouverHab

    Chat with me on Twitter @TheRealRGM81

  22. habstrinifan says:

    Congrats to Pacs. Hope he wins the award… he is the best nominee this year.

    • RGM says:

      It’ll be a very close race between him and David Perron.

      GO HABS GO! 2011-12 is probably not our year!
      “Scott Gomez is an elite NHL player” – VancouverHab

      Chat with me on Twitter @TheRealRGM81

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