Montreal, QC, Canada (4E Sports) – Forward Max Pacioretty has agreed to play for Ambri-Piotta in the Swiss A League, making him the sixth member of the Montreal Canadiens to sign with a European club during the NHL lockout.
Pacioretty said he was convinced by former NHL coach and now Ambri-Priotta mentor Kevin Constantine to join the team which has not made the playoff in six years.
Constantine coached the San Jose Sharks, Pittsburgh Penguins and New Jersey Devils in 1993-2002. He was selected by the Canadiens in the ninth round of the 1978 entry draft but never played an NHL game.
“Constantine called me to tell me their situation – that they haven’t made the playoffs in six years and that they’re not looking for someone who wants to come over on vacation,” Pacioretty said.
“I explained to him that I have intentions of helping them win and playing my heart out. I was happy to have that conversation with him,” added Pacioretty, who had a career year last season with the Canadiens, scoring 33 goals and 32 assists for a team-leading 65 points.
The Canadiens rewarded Pacioretty with a six-year, $27-million extension before the lockout happened after team owners and players failed to reach a fresh collective bargaining agreement.
In the Swiss league, Pacioretty will face Canadiens teammates Raphael Diaz and Yannick Weber, who will be suiting up for EV Zug and Geneva-Servette, respectively.
Canadiens defenseman Tomas Kaberle and center Tomas Plekanec recently agreed to play for HC Kladno in the Czech Republic while blueliner Alexei Emelin has returned to Kontinental Hockey League’s Ak-Bars Kazan.
Ben Prentiss, Pacioretty’s long-time trainer in Connecticut, said the player underwent a full summer of training and focused on adding bulk to his frame.
“We were able to build on Max’s current strength and increase his power (this summer),” said Prentiss, adding that Pacioretty emerged from the gym at 219 pounds and a lean-muscle 8.7 percent body fat.
“I was able to skate a lot more given that I didn’t finish my season on an injury,” Pacioterry said. “It’s the same thing every summer, talking about how good shape I’m in. But I think it’s a process. I build off the previous summer and get bigger and stronger because of that.”