Max Pacioretty (Photo by Robert Skinner / La Presse)

by Cate Racher, Staff Writer/Copy Editor, All Habs Hockey Magazine 

At 1:06 in the morning on September 10th, Habs fans received the news that Max Pacioretty, the captain of the Canadiens, had been traded to the Las Vegas Gold Knights in exchange for Tomas TatarNick Suzuki, and a second round draft pack in 2019. This trade comes after months of speculation and, quite frankly, vitriolic rumours surrounding both Max and Habs’ GM Marc Bergevin and the rest of the Canadiens upper management that left many people with a bitter taste in their mouths.

The purpose of this piece isn’t to talk about all of the hateful rumours or the speculation that has gone on since before the trade deadline back in February or even the draft in June. I think many fans of the team would agree that everyone needs a break from 99 percent of what the internet has been saying about Max and the rest of the team as a result of trade speculation. I want to give Max the sendoff he deserves by taking a look back at his life so far, his career with the Canadiens and talking about what this trade means for him and the Canadiens organization.

With that said, let’s jump right into it!

Max Pacioretty was born on November 20th, 1988 in New Canaan, Connecticut. Max was the first in his family to play hockey. His mother wasn’t familiar with hockey until signing Max up for a free skate as a young boy. He joined his high school’s hockey team at the age of 16 before joining the Sioux City Musketeers, where he would earn 63 points and the title of Rookie of the Year.

Max Pacioretty, pictured here after being drafted by the Canadiens in June 2007. (photo courtesy of the Montreal Gazette)

Max really got his start in 2007 when he was drafted 22nd overall in the first round by the Canadiens. After being drafted, Max would go on to play for the University of Michigan for a year before inking his first contract with the Canadiens. He went on to play for the Hamilton Bulldogs for the 2008-’09 season where he earned 29 points during the season. During this time, he made frequents trips to the big club where he could continue to improve his skills in an NHL setting. Max wouldn’t officially join the Habs as a regular player until the 2010-’11 season.

Towards the end of the season, Max was severely injured by a hit from Zdeno Chara where Max was directed into a stanchion at the end of the bench, resulting in a fracture of his fourth cervical vertebra and a severe concussion. The incident caused a great amount of division between teams and fans, with some claiming it was all theatrics while others called for better regulation of violence on the ice.  

In July of 2011, Max married his college girlfriend and professional tennis player Katia Afinogenov, sister of former Buffalo Sabres’ player Maxim Afinogenov, with whom he has three children: Lorenzo, Maximus and James.

Max Pacioretty, pictured here with his three sons. (photo courtesy of Dave Stubbs via Twitter)

Following his injury from the end of the previous season, Max went on to play one of his best seasons on record in 2011-’12, scoring 33 goals and 32 assists for a total of 65 points in 79 games. Max’s performance that season would earn him the Bill Masterton trophy, awarded each year to the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.

Max tallied 39 points in 44 games before the lockout of the 2012-’13 season. He continued each year to prove just how much of an asset he was to the team, consistently scoring 30 or more goals each year and earning over 60 points each season. Given his record, Max’s 2017-’18 season was an outlier. Without a centre to set him up, Max scored 17 goals and 20 assists for a total of 37 points over the course of the regular season.

As captain of one of the most famous teams in the NHL, Max received a lot of unfair criticism from fans and critics alike when the team wasn’t performing as expected. He is ever the optimist, choosing to take the team’s poor performance and use that to stoke the flames for the next season. When friends were traded, such as P.K. Subban, he didn’t see it as only losing a friend, but as the opportunity to gain a new one. Max’s performance on the ice as well as his shining personality are part of the reason that he was selected as the team’s 29th captain.

Max, all smiles with former Canadiens defenceman P.K. Subban. (photo courtesy of Sportsnet)

“I love playing in montreal. i haven’t played with another player who loves playing here as much as i do.” – max pacioretty

In a conversation featured on CJAD 800 AM, Max discussed just how involved in Habs culture he was, saying “I live here all year. I’m invested in the city every day. I’m out every day with the fans and I just love everything about it.” It was this positive attitude and dedication to the fans, combined with his charitable contributions by means of his annual golf tournament and other endeavours, that made Max such a fan favourite over the course of his time with the Canadiens. Despite being famously quiet and reserved, Max always wore his heart on his sleeve and cared more about his team and his effect on the team than people gave him credit for.

Max wasn’t perfect, no player is, but he loved Montreal and was extremely dedicated to the team and trying to improve his performance. This is part of why so many people have felt so conflicted about the trade.

By far the best narrative on the situation comes (shockingly) from Twitter, where a common thread has been that the Golden Knights are a team of misfits who weren’t wanted by their former teams and then they went on to play in the Stanley Cup finals. I think we can all agree that Max was treated abysmally this last season, by both fans and by Canadiens management.

But what is the trade going to mean for the the Golden Knights and the Canadiens?

Tomas Tatar (left) and Nick Suzuki (right), the newest additions to the Canadiens lineup. (photo courtesy of Ethan Miller and Elliot Ferguson via Getty Images / Postmedia News)

The player that’s going to have the most immediate impact is Tatar. Pacioretty and Tatar both had a less than perfect season this past year, but Max is an incredibly multi-dimensional player and serves as a good upgrade to the Golden Knights’ left-wing. His record speaks for itself.

Tatar is a solid goal-scorer, with 119 goals and 109 assists for a total of 228 points in his 427 regular season games with Detroit and Las Vegas. Suzuki, on the other hand, is a solid prospect for the team, ranking fourth overall in the OHL with 42 goals and 58 assists with the Owen Sound Attack. Only time will tell what real impact both Tatar and Suzuki will have on the Canadiens.

I hope Max has a better time in Las Vegas than he did this past year, and this past season, in Montreal.