Montreal’s regular season scoring leader Max Pacioretty practiced with his teammates on Monday for the first time since suffering what is believed to be a concussion on April 5.
Pacioretty sported a tinted visor all but giving away the fact his “upper body injury” is in fact a concussion.
The 26-year-old called the practice a special teams practice adding he’ll need to test things out in a contact practice.
“Before playing a game, you try and practice with the team, full contact. Today was a special teams practice, so it was perfect timing to get back out there. I still have to be cleared for contact. That’s the next step,” said Pacioretty per the team’s website. “That’s the same with every injury. You could feel great skating around, but as soon as you start battling it doesn’t feel as good and you re-aggravate it. I’m headed in the right direction, but I’m still not completely over the hump.”
Pacioretty fell awkwardly following a hit from Panthers defenseman Dmitry Kulikov.
“I’ve responded really well to treatment. I’ve gotten better every day. I think the stuff that goes on behind the scenes is really what has made me feel a lot better. I’m taking it day by day and I’m feeling better. That’s what’s important,” said Pacioretty, who took shifts on the Habs’ first power play unit alongside David Desharnais and P.A. Parenteau. “When you’re waiting in Florida, you’re thinking best or worst case possibilities. But, as soon as I got back and saw the doctor, I felt pretty comfortable and I felt confident that hopefully I could come back soon. It’s not something that we’re rushing at all, though.”
Coach Michel Therrien wouldn’t indicate when his top scorer would return to the lineup.
“We’ll use him when he’s ready, whether that’s Wednesday, Friday (Game 2), Sunday (Game 3 in Ottawa). We don’t know when,” said Therrien.
Pacioretty had 37 goals and 67 points in 80 regular season games.
On Monday, Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli announced that UFA forwards Daniel Paille and Gregory Campbell — who, along with the already departed Shawn Thornton, once formed Boston’s popular fourth line — wouldn’t be re-signed this summer.
Paille, 30, has been the Bruins since 2009 and achieved some good success, emerging as a useful contributor during the 2011 Stanley Cup victory and the ’13 Finals appearance (Paille scored four goals and nine points during that latter run, averaging 12:32 TOI per night.)
Campbell, 31, spent the last five years in Boston. A gritty checking forward, he forever etched himself in Bruins lore with this shift against Pittsburgh in the ’13 Eastern Conference Final — in which he played on a broken leg:
This year, though, Campbell and Paille struggled. They were two of the club’s worst forwards in terms of possession (click here) and neither produced much offensively; Campbell scored just six goals in 70 games while Paille had six in 71.
In the wake of Boston missing the playoffs for the first time in eight years, Paille and Campbell aren’t expected to be the only changes — but their departures are still significant. Aside from being the first (and, speediest) moves by Chiarelli this offseason, the two veterans contributed largely to Boston’s identity over the last five years.
Now that they’re gone, only a handful of regulars remain from the Cup-winning team: Zdeno Chara, David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, Dennis Seidenberg, Adam McQuaid and Milan Lucic — the latter of whom has already seen his name appear in trade speculation.
“Lets change it,” he said via George Richards of the Miami Herald. “I think people started realizing… they can see it when you watch TV, it’s a different team, a different Florida Panthers. Young guys with a lot of talent and speed and they can beat anybody.
“(The fans) are going to come. It’s just a matter of time. If we play good, if we start winning, they’re going to come. I hope they come and I wish they come.”
“He was sitting next to me and when he tied his skates, he was on his knees,” said Jagr. “I thought ‘what’s going on here?’ I’d never seen anything like that. Then I found out he’s injured so he couldn’t even bend, he couldn’t tie his skates, but he played through that.”
Jagr says he still enjoys the game and knows when he will step away.
“When hockey starts to be my job, I’m not going to play anymore,” he said. “It’s got to be fun for me. I’ve got to love it.”