After the team got off to a historically strong start, injuries to various key players — most notably, goaltender Carey Price — saw the team quickly fall down the standings and out of contention.
“This year obviously wasn’t good enough,” Pacioretty told NHL.com, now one month after the conclusion of the 38-38-6 season. “As captain, I have to find out why, for myself personally, on the ice and off the ice, and for the team as well.”
Pacioretty reflected about what worked — and what didn’t — during the 2015-16 campaign, and how he thinks he can lead Montreal back into contention next season.
Here are some excerpts from the interview:
On his first season as captain:
You want everyone to be happy with your game and have them saying positive things about you. We’re all human. But when it comes to system, our style of play, expectations of each other as teammates, it’s most important what my teammates feel about me on and off the ice.
That’s what made being elected captain such a great honor, more than by any other process. When times get tough, it motivates me.
On sharing the leadership role, and how that can lead to success:
We’ve had the same leadership group here for a couple of years. It took a hit with [Carey Price] and [Brendan] Gallagher being injured for so long this season but I think if everyone individually this summer takes the right approach and thinks about what they have to do to be a better player next year, and help the team both on and off the ice, it’s just going to make everyone’s job that much easier. That’s how we’ll find success.
On having the support of his teammates:
It’s good to know that in tough times, I have my teammates’ support. That makes me want to be better for them, to be a better captain for them. You can do a good job of dictating the tempo of a game with a certain type of playing style but you still need all your players to play a certain way to win a game.
In hockey, you need a unit of five to be in synch every time you’re out there. A team sport like that makes being a captain a little more unique because you have to make sure everyone’s pulling the same way.
On his year-end meetings with management:
What encourages me about this organization, the players, management and coaches, is that everybody feels responsible for the way things happened this year.
We were all humbled this year and through that experience it motivates you to come back stronger and better, no matter if you’re a player, coach or management.
On playing alongside Brendan Gallagher:
Everyone wants to play with [Gallagher] (laughs). He’s a spark plug, you know he’s going to mix it up and always work hard, and get to the net and make little plays that make a line better. It’s always a lot of fun.
He’s such a great leader. He has a way of getting a message across without sounding too hard on someone.
(Read the Q&A in its entirety here.)