The longtime St. Louis Blues captain signed a seven-year, $61.6M contract with the Golden Knights in October, ending his 12-year tenure where he won a Stanley Cup.
The 2020-21 NHL realignment and intra-divisional schedule format ensures that Pietrangelo will see his former team plenty this season — something he’s prepared for.
“I think if it was my first game here, maybe it would be a little bit different,” Pietrangelo said Monday. “We’ve played six games now. I mean, I’m kind of past that point. I knew this day would come eventually. I’ve been joking that, I guess, if you’re going to do it, just do it eight times in one year and get past it. I feel good. I feel comfortable about it and ready to kind of get it over with so we can move forward.”
Pietrangelo has made Vegas his new home and settled in nicely with his family and on the Golden Knights’ blue line through six games. While he’s no longer in St. Louis, his former home is in good hands. Torey Krug, who the Blues signed to replace him, bought the house after inking a seven-year, $45.5M deal.
“Not really any funny story,” Pietrangelo said. “I just think it [worked] well for both of us.”
Making an immediate impact
It’s worked out on the ice as well for Pietrangelo. The Golden Knights are 5-1-0 and atop the West Division, three points ahead of the 3-2-1 Blues and he has a goal and three points while averaging 25:04 of ice time.
You could have excused some early-season rust on a shortened training camp and no preseason games. But Pietrangelo hasn’t missed a beat as he learns a new system.
“I think anytime you come to a new team, new language, new teammates, there’s an adjustment period,” said Golden Knights head coach Peter DeBoer. “I think he’s adjusted faster than most players. I thought last game was arguably his best so far. World-class player. I think that the most impressive part for me has been how open he is to coaching and, and learning our new system and some of the things that that maybe haven’t been familiar to him over his time in St. Louis. It’s all new. He’s open-minded and coachable to everything we’re talking about, which is the most impressive thing when you have a guy with his pedigree and that’s contagious in your group. When you can coach a guy like that, and he wants to be coached, I think that it’s a great role model for the other guys that are in that defensive corps.”
“Anytime you’re in a system for 750 games it becomes habit,” Pietrangelo said, “so I think for me moving forward here, continuing to work on Pete’s system, I’m starting to feel more comfortable, starting to find my way starting to find ways to create more opportunities, which is part of my game. … You want to play to your strength but at the same time you want to make sure you fit in to what the coaches want to be successful.”
If COVID-19 wasn’t a worry, Pietrangelo would have had his old teammates over to his new home to catch up. But the friendly chirps will have to wait until warmups and a video tribute won’t come until the Golden Knights visit St. Louis for the first time this season on March 12.
Friendships will be hold for a few hours Tuesday once the puck drops.
“When you get in the game, you got to play the game, right?” Pietrangelo said. “I don’t think they’re going to let up on me.”