After three weeks, five games and a flurry of rumors, Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty has bolted the Swiss league.
The 23-year-old left struggling club side Ambri-Piotta on Tuesday and was expected to fly into his native Connecticut on Wednesday.
According to Dave Stubbs of the Montreal Gazette, the “tidiest” explanation for the departure is that Swiss league training and practice regimens simply couldn’t match what Pacioretty — a notorious workout fiend — had built up over the summer.
Stubbs also notes Pacioretty had a long commute from his residence to the rink, and that strength-training facilities fell short of what he expected.
As for the less tidy explanation? Right here:
Pacioretty never tasted victory, arriving in the tiny village with his club two losses into what would be a 10-game losing streak, Ambrì sinking into the 12-team league basement.
Pacioretty sat out his final three games, said to have been suffering from the flu in the first two – though that might not be entirely true.
He then was a healthy scratch in last Saturday’s match, the victim, it was reported by multiple sources, of Switzerland’s import quotas; only four import players can suit up for a club for any game, and Ambrì Piotta coach Kevin Constantine used two forwards and two defencemen from outside that night.
The club reported that Pacioretty never fully recovered from his flu and asked to be released, saying he’d be welcome to return at any time. The club also said he was suffering from inflammation of an elbow.
Pacioretty’s agent, Alex Schall, told the Gazette his client is nursing a few nagging injuries, but none that would’ve prevented him from starting the NHL season on time.
So make of the elbow diagnosis what you will.
Pacioretty was Ambri-Piotta’s lone NHL lockout signing, though the team does have a number of ex-NHLers — Richard Park, Jason Williams, Nolan Schaefer and Constantine, the former head coach in San Jose, Pittsburgh and New Jersey.