MONTREAL – Max Pacioretty
’s incredible return to action this season clearly didn’t go unnoticed around the NHL. This Tuesday, the league named the Canadiens forward as one of three finalists for the 2011-12 Bill Masterton Trophy.
Pacioretty will find himself in good company alongside fellow nominees, Daniel Alfredsson of the Ottawa Senators and the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Joffrey Lupul, when the winner is finally announced at the NHL Awards on June 20 in Las Vegas.
"It’s a tremendous honor anytime you’re recognized and put in a category with players like Daniel Alfredsson and Joffrey Lupul," shared Pacioretty via conference call from his home in New Canaan, CT. "I owe a lot of my success to a lot of other people, whether it be the coaching staff, the organization, my teammates or my linemates, but at the end of the day there was a lot of hard work put into it so it’s definitely rewarding."
Pacioretty saw his 2010-11 season cut short after suffering a concussion and fractured fourth vertebra following a brutal check from Zdeno Chara last March. Determined to return to form after recovering from the potentially career-ending injury, the 23-year-old forward arrived at training camp in September with renewed determination. The 2011-12 season would go on to be his best to date, as he posted a career-high 33 goals and finished the campaign as the Canadiens’ top scorer with a total of 65 points.
"I didn’t really know what to expect coming back," he explained. "The one thing I always had in the back of my mind was, ‘Is my head ever going to be the same and am I going to feel lingering effects from the concussion?’ Once I got over those thoughts and realized I was 100% healed, I used my experience as motivation and basically just wanted to be the best player I could be every day. There’s still a lot more for me to improve in my game but I think this year was a stepping stone in getting there."
With a career-year now in the books, Pacioretty knows it will be his performance, not his injury, that could earn him some hardware this June.
“I think the Masterton is more focused on how I played after the incident as opposed to how bad the incident was,” he described. “That’s why it’s a special award. If I had a bad season, I definitely wouldn’t have been a nominee. The fact that the focus is on the season I did have is rewarding and it’s less magnified about the injury.”
Pacioretty’s accomplishments this past season also extended well beyond his performance on the ice. Directing an equal amount of attention toward charitable endeavours, the American power forward started the Max Pacioretty Foundation with the goal of raising funds to help provide the Montreal General Hospital with an Advanced Functional MRI for the Traumatic Brain Injury Centre – a worldwide leader in the field of concussion research and treatment.
Since 1968, the Bill Masterton Trophy has been awarded annually to the player that best exemplifies qualities of perseverance, team spirit and dedication to the sport of hockey. Should he walk away with the honors, Pacioretty would become the fifth player in Canadiens history to win the award after Claude Provost (1968), Henri Richard (1974), Serge Savard (1979) and Saku Koivu (2002).
Max Pacioretty is a candidate for the Bill Masterton Trophy
Top 5 - Max Pacioretty
Creation of the Max Pacioretty Foundation