The Montreal Canadiens are turning the page.
Just hours after a late Sunday trade sent now-former Montreal Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty to the Vegas Golden Knights, Habs brass said the team is now looking forward after a tumultuous, soap opera-like summer in La Belle Province.
“We are entirely focused now on the team and having a great start,” Canadiens owner Geoff Molson said from the team’s golf tournament on Monday. “We’re turning the page. That’s nothing against Max. It’s what happens in hockey once and a while. He and I are friends and we spent a lot of time together over the past 10 years and I appreciate and like him very much and I wish him nothing but the best.”
Molson said the trade for Tomas Tatar, prospect Nick Suzuki and a second-round pick in 2019 came together relatively quickly over the past week or so. Discussions were ongoing with Pacioretty and when the trade request came in, the Canadiens started to actively pursue it.
“The player and the organization agreed that it was probably in the best interest of Max and the organization to look for a trade,” Molson said. “Every once in a while an organization has to make a decision, a team has to make a decision to move on. Mutually, Max’s side with his agent and the Montreal Canadiens agreed that it was probably the right time to make a move.”
Molson didn’t want to get into the details of Pacioretty’s trade request or when it was made.
“It’s been going on for several months now that we’ve been trying to make this happen. Here we are today, the morning after,” Molson said.
Speaking to the media after Molson, general manager Marc Bergevin said that a trade request from Pacioretty came in last season.
“That’s a fact, yes,” Bergevin said.
Last week, Pacioretty and his agent, Allan Walsh, shot down the notion that their camp had asked for a trade.
“From our perspective, we’re going to focus on telling the truth and that is a request was made and that’s it,” Molson said.
Bergevin said that when Pacioretty made the trade request, it was evident then that an extension wasn’t going to be on the table. The GM added he never told Pacioretty that he was trying to trade him at any point last season.
“This has been going on for a while,” Bergevin said.
Bergevin added that the Golden Knights were given permission prior to the trade to talk about an extension with Pacioretty.
Suzuki was the key piece in the deal, according to Bergevin, who said the Canadiens had him 11th on their draft list in 2017. The Golden Knights would select him No. 13 overall.
“It’s something we really had to have,” Bergevin said. “He’s a cerebral player, he thinks the game well… he’s got a skill set that made him the 13th pick overall.”
Bergevin expects Tatar to be in camp and believes he can be an asset on the power play.
Pacioretty and the Golden Knights make their only trip to Montreal on November 10, which should be an emotional evening inside Bell Centre.
“Max was a great Montreal Canadien and he always will be a great Montreal Canadien,” Molson said. “He’s always welcome back in this market as a person.”