Max Pacioretty is no stranger to playing under a great deal of pressure after spending 10 seasons with the Montreal Canadiens, including three where he was the captain.
When his request to be moved out of Montreal was granted by a trade to the Vegas Golden Knights, there was some relief for Pacioretty. What he didn't expect was how vastly different the environment was, especially for a team that was contending right from its first season as an expansion club.
During a recent appearance on the Raw Knuckles Podcast with former NHLers Chris Nilan and Tim Stapleton, Pacioretty opened up about his time in Vegas, which came to an end after he was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes at the start of free agency.
"I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. When I first got (to Vegas), it was weird that there was like no accountability." Pacioretty explained. "And I’m not talking about in the team, I’m talking about like ever, you couldn’t feel pressure coming off anyone else, from the coach to the management.
"There was a relief when I got there but then I found myself being like I’ve got to reel this in and hold myself to a higher standard which I had always done, but maybe I got away from it when I had everyone else holding me accountable (in Montreal)."
For the first time in the team's history, the Golden Knights failed to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs this past season. Part of that had to do with the fact that the team lost close to 500 man-games this season, especially to core players like Pacioretty, captain Mark Stone, Alec Martinez, starting goaltender Robin Lehner and blockbuster acquisition Jack Eichel.
Pacioretty believes that without the outside pressure to perform, it made it difficult to get the most out of players.
"I mentioned that at the end of the year that no one is really holding us accountable. If we have a bad year like this, the city would be half on fire in Montreal and here it is in Vegas it’s 80 degrees and it’s sunny and we’re getting our car washed and getting our organic food and going to play golf," Pacioretty said. "I was kind of like we’ve got to police this thing a little better amongst each other. I don’t want to say it was a country club, but you have no one from the outside holding you accountable."
During his four seasons in Vegas, Pacioretty had 97 goals and 194 points in 224 games.