by Andrew Saadalla, Guest Columnist, All Habs Hockey Magazine

(Photo by Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images)
(Photo by Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images)

MONTREAL, QC. — I should have known better than to think that Montreal Canadiens’ team captain Max Pacioretty would receive the respect and credit that he deserves. Through 22 games, he has posted five goals and 14 points, which places him on pace for slightly less than his career average of regular season totals. He has become the whipping boy of both Habs fans and the Francophone media alike since the 2015-2016 season, and is coming under fire regularly for what analysts consider to be “poor” efforts and questionable antics.

Pacioretty has come close to scoring 40 goals twice in his career in 2013-2014 and 2014-2015, while notching 30+ tallies four times in seasons where he’s played 73 games or more. Three of his five goals are game-winners this season, and the captain has scored the eighth most goals in the NHL since 2013-2014. He has two less than Steven Stamkos but managed more than Patrick Kane, John Tavares and Brad Marchand. Moreover, only Alexander Ovechkin has more than Pacioretty’s 30 decisive goals, while Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks has eight less and Sidney Crosby 11 less (Leclerc, ICI Radio-Canada.)

Still, the player chosen unanimously by his peers as their unequivocal leader and captain is being hard done by. Fans and Francophone members of the mainstream media call him “soft” when alluding to his playing style despite his physical attributes. In their apparent delusion, they went so far as to say that he had a terrible 2015-2016 regular season.

Allow me to start by saying that a “bad” season is not usually how any sane person would describe a 30-goal, 64-point outing. You have to be seriously disconnected from reality to think so, especially since Pacioretty had undergone knee surgery that kept him from attending training camp yet he soldiered through and played in last year’s first game well ahead of his rehabilitation schedule.

Then, the argument that most of his goals are scored in an empty net comes up. In a blog that I wrote in August, I counted exactly four empty-netters which comes out to a little over 13 per cent of his goals. Thus, that statement is thrown out the window.

So what is it, then, that seems to always bother the Francophone media? Why must they always pick on a single player who, in reality, is doing everything he can to help his team win? By singling out Pacioretty this season, who is always available for interviews and is the penultimate polite and humble professional, the integrity behind their journalistic practices seriously comes into question. I’d go so far as to say that it’s downright embarrassing, and I cannot fathom how anybody could fall for their laughable and lazy attempts at “reporting.”

Take, for instance, this article published by TVA Sports.

“The captain of the Montreal Canadiens, Max Pacioretty, finds himself in a controversy. The American did not take the ice after receiving the third star of the game. He quickly greeted the crowd and then returned to the dressing room.” — TVA (translated)

After defeating the Carolina Hurricanes by a score of 2-1, Pacioretty was named third star of the game. Evidently, there was some sort of confusion regarding the timing between when he heard his name being announced and when he was informed that he received the honors. Thus, he came out, saluted the fans without stepping onto the ice, and headed back to the locker room to conduct post-game interviews as he always does.

All of a sudden, panelists on RDS’ “l’Antichambre” show began immediately criticizing the captain for a lack of passion and for being disrespectful towards the Bell Centre attendees. That was obviously not the case.

Despite the situation being clarified and subsequently defused, the article I cited earlier somehow manages to blatantly drag Pacioretty through the mud by quoting Tweets of angry fans who clearly bought into the outrageously idiotic narrative surrounding No. 67.

To make things worse, Doc Mailloux (whom I had never heard of prior and am ashamed to even mention his name in my editorial) justified Pacioretty’s (negligible) shortcomings by a lack of “virility” and “masculinity”- that God had “abandoned” him and the fact that he talks to his mother every night on the phone means that he is only fit for a sport like badminton.

Sadly, what “le Doc” and TVA Sports have failed to realize is that they are the laughing stock of the Montreal fan base. Arrogrant, rude, and frankly irrelevant so-called “journalists” living in the stone ages continue to offer dim-witted analyses that make me feel dumber for even giving them a split-second of my listening time. What a sad, sad joke they’ve played on Habs fans, and Quebecor Media should be ashamed of themselves.

Honestly, as much as I would have initially liked to see Brendan Gallagher be named captain, the team’s current leader is doing a damn fine job of not succumbing to the overbearing amount of pressure being placed on his shoulders. Natural goal-scorers tend to be streaky, and it’s only a matter of time before Pacioretty lights up the red lamp regularly. He’s shown that he is able to bounce back from virtually any kind of opposition, whether in the form of injuries or slumps.

It’s not like he’s been utterly useless on the ice. His defensive game continues to improve year in and year out, and he leads the team in takeaways on the forecheck this season.

Last week, I penned an article defending the Anglophone media after certain analysts blamed them for criticizing David Desharnais.

“Roughly two weeks ago, a certain member of the aforementioned program singled out the Anglophone media for their “unfair” and “harsh” criticism towards Desharnais.” — Andrew Saadalla

Although French is my mother tongue, I find myself once again giving credit to the Anglophone press as its members have managed to steer clear of the very vitriol that spews from the tongues (and fingers) of their disillusioned counterparts.

  • Habbernack

    There is something wrong with the mentality of RDS panel.

    • Andrew Saadalla

      And TVA Sports. I just don’t get it- do they lack so much creativity in their livelihood that they have to blatantly attack and single out individuals night in and night out? Have they no shame?

      • Habbernack

        I think they have an agenda concerning certain players

  • JohnoftheNorth

    They’ll end up making Pacioretty’s life miserable in Montreal and ultimately drive him away so he’ll finish his career somewhere else. As a lifelong Habs fan, some or our fans are just pigs and it’s a shame they have access to microphones.

    Here’s hoping MaxPatch is able to ignore all that crap.

  • Claude Lachapelle

    Come on…. you’re stating francophones all over your blog as everyone in Montreal is wondering when the club will slip as much as last year, and not mentioning that in fact the captain has an awful start of a season…. mixing sports and tongues, you’ve already showed me you shouldn t even be writing the stuff you’re vomiting…

    On a personal note, I think that Pacioretty is saving his career in MOntreal over the last 4 games…

    As I can remember correctly, Pacioretty accepted the Habs Captaincy, and the ship sank to the bottom of the sea last year…

    You’re pitiful, if you wonder why the Bell Center is always full, it s because of how much Habs fan are passionate…

    I’ll tell you more, as a french canadian…. I couldn t bear no more to see Pacioretty on the shootouts and yes I’m a passionate Habs fan

    It has nothing to do with the language you speak, dumb ass..

  • Claude Lachapelle

    Oh and what’s your nationality since you’re keen on it? arab maybe? yeah thats what I thought… have you ever skated maybe?

  • Claude Lachapelle

    You’re vomiting too?