MONTREAL – After three years of splitting his services between the Bulldogs and the Canadiens, Max Pacioretty
can finally look forward to calling Montreal his home.
The 2010-11 season marked a departure for Pacioretty, for whom the term “proving oneself” had become a mantra of sorts during his road to the NHL.
More determined than ever to make is mark, Pacioretty began the 2010-11 season in Hamilton, rapidly emerging as one of the team’s main offensive forces, amassing 32 points in 27 games with the Bulldogs. Carrying that kind of production and momentum into the NHL can be a difficult task for any young player, but after three years of paying his dues, it didn’t take Pacioretty long to prove that his game had indeed reached a new level when the Canadiens called him up as mid-season reinforcement.
Over the course of 37 games with the Habs, the 6-foot-2, 196 lbs forward made it clear that the NHL was where he belonged, posting an impressive 14 goals and 10 assists in that time. It wasn’t long before his inspired play earned him increased minutes on power play where he would prove a valuable asset, ultimately notching seven of his 14 goals on the man-advantage.
With enough size and grit to give his opponents all they could handle on the ice, Pacioretty proved that he was able to thrive battling for position; create traffic, and yield opportunities for himself and his teammates. His more-than-solid performance in 2010-11 earned him the first one-way contract of his career over the offseason – a deal slated to keep the young winger in the Canadiens’ fold for the next two years.
While making the leap from AHL to NHL is a tough undertaking for any player, the 2011-12 campaign will likely prove to be the biggest challenge of Pacioretty’s career. Not only will the New Canaan native be laden with the task of re-establishing himself as a consistent offensive threat, but he’ll also have to contend with doing so on the heels of recovering from a season and near career-ending injury sustained in March of last season.
The Habs’ offseason acquisition of Erik Cole
, in addition to providing the team with more depth up front, also offers a possible mentor for Pacioretty during the upcoming campaign. With the two power forwards sharing not only a similar style of play, but also the similar experience of returning to action following a serious neck injury, the 22-year-old winger will have a wealth of knowledge to draw upon from Cole’s decade of NHL experience should he choose to do so.
With an unprecedented amount of offseason time to dedicate to working out, fans can hope to see a stronger, faster No. 67 take to the ice in the fall; ready as he’s always been to prove himself and certainly ready to end this new season of hockey on his own terms.Justin Fragapane is a writer for canadiens.com. SEE ALSOHamilton Bulldogs to play in Quebec Now hiring: Web producer Canadiens sign defenseman Jeff Woywitka to a one-year contract