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Core essentials

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

BROSSARD – Max Pacioretty is living proof that hard work pays off.

Since his first day on the job this May, Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin has made it clear his mission is to fill his roster with character players who are willing to go the extra mile to win. He put his money where his mouth is on Monday, rewarding Pacioretty for his stellar 2011-12 season by offering him a six-year contract extension.

“Max makes up part of the core of young players we have that are among the best in their position in their age group,” explained Bergevin, who recently locked up another major core player, signing all-star goaltender Carey Price to a six-year contract of his own on July 2, 2012. “They’ve shown that they want to be in Montreal for a long period of time, and that tells our fans that this is the place they want to stay and be successful. That’s huge moving forward for us. With Max, both sides wanted to get this done – he showed that he wanted to stay here and we wanted to keep him here. It was perfect.”

Max Pacioretty signs six-year contract extension with the Canadiens

Calling from his home in New Canaan, Connecticut to discuss the good news on Tuesday afternoon, Pacioretty made no attempt to hide the fact as far as he was concerned, things couldn’t have worked out better.

“As soon as they said they wanted to get a deal done, I already knew I loved playing in Montreal and tried to get it done as soon as possible. I considered myself a part of the core of young players we have in Montreal, and I was just hoping that they would tell me that I was – they obviously did with this contract,” shared the 23-year-old, who will be able call himself a Hab all the way through to the end of the 2018-19 season.

“You want to play where you feel welcome,” continued Pacioretty, citing his special relationship with Canadiens fans as part of the reasoning behind his decision. “As bad as my situation was a couple of years ago, there are so many positives that came out of it and I’m so thankful that the fans were supportive from Day 1. It’s really comforting knowing they’re on my side and it definitely played a huge factor in wanting to stay in Montreal for so long.”

In a career year, the young power forward joined forces with Erik Cole and David Desharnais to make up one of the league’s most dynamic offensive of 2011-12. With Cole already under contract with the Canadiens for another three seasons, Pacioretty is now hoping that his other linemate could also eventually be brought on board for the long haul.

“I’ve said it since the beginning: Davy’s [Desharnais] been huge for my career and I hope he’s a part of this team far into the future. He’s opened up a lot of eyes already and I think he’s only going to continue to do so,” said Pacioretty. “He’s a huge part of this core and I would be so happy for him if they did that.”

In addition to leading the Habs with 65 points last season, Pacioretty also earned the Masterton Trophy for “exemplifying perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey” at the NHL Awards this June. With high expectations for himself in place, and never being one to back down for a challenge, Pacioretty is looking forward to the changes that will inevitably take place under the Canadiens’ new front office and coaching staff.

“In terms of the coach, he acknowledged the areas that were lacking last year and I think it showed with their free-agent signings,” expressed the first American-born player to ever score 30 goals for the Habs. “A coach like Therrien is definitely demanding, but I think that’s the direction our team needs to be heading especially after our results from last year, and I’m very excited about the way we’re going now.”

Prior to signing his extension, Pacioretty had one year remaining on his entry level contract and was set to become a restricted free agent at the end of 2012-13.

Justin Fragapane is a writer for

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