The soon-to-be-30-year-old was acquired by the Vegas Golden Knights in a September swap that sent Tomas Tatar, Nick Suzuki and a 2019 second-round pick back the other way. One day after the trade was completed, the Canadiens general manager told reporters at the team’s annual golf tournament that Pacioretty requested to be moved.
“Last season, there was a request,” Bergevin said at the time. “He asked for a trade. I will not go into detail. But that’s a fact, yes.”
Pacioretty denied that in an exclusive interview with Sportsnet’s Christine Simpson prior to facing his former team for the first time.
“I don’t agree with that,” Pacioretty said. “Heated conversations like that could get taken in different ways. I don’t believe that that’s what I said and I’ll just leave it at that.”
Rumours that Pacioretty would be dealt swirled for months before a deal was finally made. Contract negotiations were part of the equation as well, which reportedly nixed a deal the Canadiens had with the Los Angeles Kings that would’ve sent the winger to Hollywood at the 2018 NHL Draft. The New Canaan, Conn., native eventually signed a four-year, $28-million contract extension with the Golden Knights.
There was plenty of awkwardness in the lead-up to the trade, too, including an uncomfortable scene at Pacioretty’s summer charity golf tournament in August.
“I knew there was a very likely chance I was going to get traded,” Pacioretty said of his interactions with Bergevin and Canadiens owner Geoff Molson at the event. “You try to not let it affect you. I’m a guy though, that’s very incapable of hiding things. [I’m a] pretty honest person where if something is bothering me, most people around me know, and maybe that led to that awkwardness.”
Making everything worse was the fact the Canadiens struggled mightily on the ice in 2017-18 with Pacioretty registering 17 goals in 64 games, his lowest goals-per-game average since his sophomore season in which he scored just thrice in 52 games.
“Last season was very frustrating. There’s no dancing around that,” Pacioretty explained. “I had a bad year. Just all around it seemed like the perfect storm of things to go wrong, go wrong at the wrong time, chemistry was a bit off.
“It just didn’t work, and you know what? It’s happened to a lot of good teams in the past. These things happen. You can’t be perfect every day of your life.”
Pacioretty did say the chemistry in the room “was great” and that he has a lot of respect for Canadiens fans who he thought always treated him well.
He received a warm welcome and standing ovation Saturday night at the Bell Centre.
Heading into his first game against the Canadiens, Pacioretty had struggled to produce, scoring just two goals and failing to register an assist through his first 12 regular-season appearances with the Golden Knights. He has also missed some games due to an upper-body injury.