A spoiled homecoming and a fresh start.
P.A. Parenteau wants minutes, and Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock has assured the forward he will get them.
“I’m going to get a lot of ice time. I’m going to come to camp in shape,” Parenteau told Dean Blundell & Co. on Sportsnet 590 The Fan Thursday morning, of Babcock’s recruiting. “That was pretty much the message.”
In a deal that favoured fit and opportunity over term and dollars, the offensive-minded Parenteau, represented by agent Allan Walsh, and the Kessel-free Leafs signed off on a one-year, $1.5-million pact Wednesday that–let’s be honest–may or may not last past the 2016 trade deadline.
Parenteau, 32, was optimistic when Colorado traded him home a year ago at this time, but he leaves Montreal as a buyout who averaged just 14:59 a night (seventh among Habs forwards) and scored eight goals — his lowest ever in a full NHL campaign.
“I was a little surprised. Obviously it’s never fun to be bought out like that, but things happen for a reason,” Parenteau said. “I missed over two months with a concussion. That didn’t help my case. You gotta stay healthy in this day and age in the NHL.”
But it wasn’t just the injury.
Prior to moving to Montreal, the winger had spells in Avalanche coach Patrick Roy’s doghouse. Montreal’s Michel Therrien had made him a healthy scratch on a number of occasions — to the extent that Walsh called attention to his client’s use on Twitter:
“It will be good to play for a coach that actually wants you,” Parenteau told La Presse Wednesday.
Parenteau was at his best with the New York Islanders, following up his 20-goal campaign in 2010-11 with a career-best 67 points in 2011-12. His first season with the Avalanche — the lockout-shortened 2012-13, predating Roy — Parenteau racked up 43 points in 48 games.
Health and a compatible coach appear integral to Parenteau’s success. He compared Therrien and Roy.
“They’re different guys. Patrick is a lot more outgoing. He’s more of a players’ guy,” Parenteau said. “They’re both good coaches.”
Parenteau regrets things not working out in his hometown, but it was encouraging that Babcock called him as soon as he became available.
“Sometimes things don’t work or you don’t see the game the same way as someone you’re working with, but it is what it is,” Parenteau said. “Here I am now playing for the Leafs, and I’m really happy.
“I think they’re going to turn this thing around with new management, new coach, and a bunch of new players. I think things are really looking up for this team, and I want to be a part of it.”