Found March 12, 2012 on
Back in September, Max Pacioretty said he wanted to be known for his play, not 'The Hit.'
Pacioretty has been one of the few bright spots in an otherwise dismal season for the Canadiens. His 30 goals and 56 points lead the team, with several weeks to add before season's end.
"Thirty goals is exciting," he told reporters after reaching the mark against the Oilers last Thursday. "But it's a team sport and I have to give a lot of credit to my linemates and my teammates. They really helped me out a lot this year."
It's been a year that seemed almost impossible to fathom.
It was on March 8, 2011, that Pacioretty was driven into a Bell Centre stanchion by Boston's Zdeno Chara. The image of the unconscious winger flattened on the ice was beyond scary. The hit would leave the New Canaan, Conn., native with a broken vertebra and severe concussion.
"That's a heck of a thing to come back from," Montreal coach Randy Cunneyworth said following the game in Edmonton. "The dedication and the work he has had to do is something. He came back bigger and stronger."
He had been cleared to play in the second round of the 2011 playoffs had the Canadiens eliminated the Bruins in their quarterfinal series. But even then there was no way to know what the team would get upon his return.
"We all knew his potential as a player but you never know coming off injury how they're going to respond or how they're going to perform, and he's exceeded all expectations," defenseman Josh Gorges told TSN.
Added Canadiens goaltender Carey Price: "He went through a lot of adversity and I think he became a stronger person because of it. Almost having it all taken away from you and then having a chance at it again, I think he's showing a lot of hunger."
In tallying his 30th, Pacioretty became the first American player in Canadiens history to reach the mark. Captain Brian Gionta came close last season with 29.
"This year I set a lot of goals for myself," he told reporters prior to last Thursday's morning skate. "I wanted to get better every day and work hard in practice. My goal is to develop as a player, and I'm sticking to that."
His own motivation and dedication have been paramount in his development. He's also benefited from the skill of center David Desharnais -- having a breakout year of his own -- and the experience of linemate Erik Cole. Cole, of course, suffered two broken vertebrae on a hit from behind by Pittsburgh's Brooks Orpik back on March 4, 2006, when Cole was a member of the Carolina Hurricanes.
"Once you overcome the physical side of things you still have to deal with the psychological part of it -- being able to commit yourself to playing the same way and playing without the fear or the same kind of reckless demeanor and straightforwardness that he's shown this year," Cole told reporters.
Pacioretty had shown promise when called up in December 2010 and leading up to the hit. But the incident -- and subsequent events -- has become a defining one for the 23-year-old.
"I've grown up a lot since my injury. I kind of have a new mindset on life and outlook on hockey as well," Pacioretty told TSN. "I think that's the reason for my success and that's the reason for me stepping up as a human being and being a better person every day."
BEST OF MAXIM
It goes without saying that the Montreal Canadiens are likely to make changes to the team’s front office and behind the bench following the 2011-2012 season and names of potential replacements are beginning to surface.
According to Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun, former Habs goalie Patrick Roy and current Chicago Blackhawks assistant general manager Marc Bergevin are among the...
After struggling this season for the Calgary Flames, Rene Bourque was traded in January to the Montreal Canadiens. Coming the other way was Mike Cammalleri, who had equally lost his scoring touch. It was hoped that a change of scenery would benefit both players.
So far, Bourque has gained no such benefit and has been a big disappointment in Montreal. Cammalleri has not exactly...
As expected, the Canadiens Masterton nominee this season is Max Pacioretty. The award is given to the player "who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to ice hockey".
If coming back from a broken neck and severe concussion to score 30 goals doesn't fit the bill, I don't know what does (pardon the pun).
As for sportsmanship...
There have been few bright spots this season for the Montreal Canadiens, but the return of veteran defenseman Andrei Markov certainly qualifies as a highlight.
That it came in a 4-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday night made it that much better.
''It was awesome,'' said Markov, the 33-year-old Russian, who fought back from two operations on his right...
Andrei Markov Returns, Habs Go From Night to Day
140 games, 483 days and a whole bunch of losses and hotdogs in the pressbox watching his teammates toil away for the last two seasons made Andrei Markov an awfully hungry hockey player.
Returning to the lineup in a flash on Saturday night in Vancouver against the Canucks, the Habs and Markov caught the hockey world off-guard...
Good thing David Desharnais played Monday night, because if it wasn’t for him, the Habs wouldn’t have been in this game. The usual storyline: Habs take lead, Habs blow lead, except in this one, they tied it with 3 seconds left, and then lost in overtime.
I won’t even get into the game: what’s with the celebrating? One thing I always appreciated about Saku Koivu was his class...
There's a good chance Pierre Gauthier will be fired as Habs GM after the season, and the Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch thinks Chicago Hawks exec Marc Bergevin will take over. However, Garrioch also thinks two other guys might be ideal candidates: Tampa assistant GM Julien Brisebois and Toronto assistant GM Claude Loiselle. As far as coaches, Garrioch pegs Patrick Roy and Winnipeg...
There was Andrei Markov, playing his 53rd game in three seasons Saturday, proving that at 70%, he's still better than a lot of other players.
But his appearance in the lineup from here to the end of the season will likely inspire more doubt than promise about his future.
Will he be able to produce? Absolutely.
Will he be exposed, defensively? Absolutely.
The dog days of March are here. The Vancouver Canucks have nothing left to play for in a division long since wrapped up, and the prospect of another long, punishing playoff run as seen the effort levels lately drop to a more manageable peak.
It’s a tad disappointing to see these losses, but who will really remember these games once the playoffs start?
On to the Love...
Canadiens vs Canucks Game Recap
Did you miss the Montreal Canadiens vs. Vancouver Canucks Saturday night on Hockey Night in Canada?
Boxscore | My Post Game Recap
We’ve got the highlights for you.
Canadiens vs. Canucks highlights courtesy NHL.com.
CLICK HERE CHECK OUT THE CANUCKS CLUBHOUSE TODAY AT NWSB!
© NWSports "Q" for North West Sports Beat, 2012. |
Poor Andrei Markov. Before Saturday night's start in Vancouver, the former NHL All Star D had missed 140 games due to a jacked up ACL.
In his second game back to the lineup, Tyler Ennis toe-dragged him Sabres infamy.
Ennis has the hands of a jewel thief and he used them to perform larcent against Markov and Budaj. The goal had double meaning for the Sabtres as it tied...