Pacioretty (knee) unsure when he’ll return to Habs

Max Pacioretty suffered a pretty serious knee injury this summer — a tibial plateau fracture, similar to the injury that sidelined Kobe Bryant for significant time in 2013.

Pacioretty was hurt in July but, with a 12-week recovery period, some thought he’d be ready for Montreal’s season opener on Oct. 7.

He’s just not so sure.

“I wish I could predict when I’ll return, but I think that would mess with my head a little too much,” Pacioretty told the Montreal Gazette. “I just want to make sure that while I’m injured I’m still part of the team.”

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The good news: Pacioretty has no ligament damage, which could have required major surgery.

That said, it’s a messy looking composite scan of his injured tibia — the top of the shinbone just below the patella, or kneecap — that was done in Miami the day after he was hurt.

“Everyone gets injured,” the 26-year-old said. “It looks bad but it could have been so much worse. It’s something that will heal. Everyone heals at a different speed but I’m confident it will heal 100 per cent and won’t affect my future.”

Reports suggest rehab is going well and ahead of schedule, but it won’t be surprising if both Pacioretty and the Canadiens are patient with his return. Montreal can ill-afford to lose its top goalscorer for any significant length of time; Pacioretty scored 37 of Montreal’s 214 goals last year (the Habs ranked 20th in the NHL in goals for) and, two years ago, scored a career-high 39.

He’s also one of the club’s leaders, serving as an alternate captain. So there’s a real risk in coming back too soon and potentially further damaging the knee.

“There’s a lot of healing that still has to be done,” Pacioretty said. “It’s great news that it’s been healing straight but I don’t want to get too optimistic because I have a long way to go.”

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