Weight of captaincy gone, Pacioretty ready for ‘new chapter’ in Vegas

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When Max Pacioretty informed his sons that he was traded to the Vegas Golden Knights, the first thing one of them did was run to his bedroom and check the bedsheets, which are covered with NHL team logos. Unfortunately for the youngster the sheets were purchased before Vegas was granted a franchise, so the Golden Knights logo was nowhere to be found.

But Pacioretty was able to ring a bell with his son by telling him that it was “the team with the show in the playoffs,” referencing the notable production that takes place before every Golden Knights game at T-Mobile Arena. That elicited some excitement and was cause for a trip to YouTube to relive the pre-game events during last spring’s Stanley Cup Playoffs.

“I feel this organization has changed the game,” Pacioretty said during his introductory press conference on Wednesday. “You’re going to see teams copying what they do in terms of in-game production and that. As I mentioned when I came here [with Montreal], this experience was amazing but I couldn’t imagine being on the other side of it, and now that I am I’m really looking forward to it.”

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Pacioretty will have plenty of time to experience all that Vegas has to offer after having signed a four-year, $28 million extension earlier this week following the long-awaited trade from Montreal Canadiens. He’ll also be reunited with good friend Paul Stastny, who joined the Golden Knights in free agency this summer with a three-year, $19.5 million contract, as well as head coach Gerard Gallant, who was a Canadiens assistant from 2012-2014.

It’ll be a big change for Pacioretty, who’s only known the Canadiens during his 10-season NHL career. After being named an alternate before the 2014-15 season, the 30-year-old forward served as Habs captain since 2015-16. He won’t wear the ‘C’ this season and given Vegas general manager George McPhee’s quote about there being 23 captains in their locker room, Pacioretty can focus solely on hockey.

“I do think my game can improve because of it, but I don’t want to take away from that accomplishment because it is something that I will forever be grateful for,” he said. “I think it was a tremendous honor for me to be the captain, especially of that franchise, given the history and the players that have worn the ‘C’ in that franchise. 

“That being said, I couldn’t think of a better situation to be in coming off of a down year for myself, personally, for the team. Obviously it’s no secret that catching a lot heat there for the season and taking responsibility for that… This is the situation I want to be in, I want to worry about playing hockey.”

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.