The Montreal Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty had his leadership capabilities questioned after last season. He is proving right now that he is the on-ice leader of the Habs.
The Montreal Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty was in the rumour mill on Hockey Night in Canada one week ago due to the perceived “friction” between himself and his coach. The Sportsnet insiders were commenting that his lack of ice time and role Michel Therrien was putting him in may lead to his exit from Montreal.
This coming just a few months after Therrien was rumoured to have said Pacioretty is the worst captain in the history of the Canadiens. Now, this was an unconfirmed report, but not exactly a flattering headline for Pacioretty to read.
Pacioretty may not present himself to the media as the greatest leader. However, he is getting the job done right now where it matters the most – on the ice. Captains can be as inspiring as they want in the dressing room, if they aren’t leading by example on the ice, the message will fall on deaf ears.
A recent rash of injuries that has taken Alex Galchenyuk and David Desharnais out of the lineup for 6-8 weeks. The loss of the two centers, especially Galchenyuk, left the Habs with a huge void to fill offensively.
Pacioretty stepped up as soon as Galchenyuk went down
Galchenyuk was leading the Canadiens in goals and points at the time of his injury. It was thought the team would struggle to score without him in their lineup on a nightly basis.
Pacioretty has made sure that’s not the case. In the game against the Los Angeles Kings when Galchenyuk went down, Pacioretty scored a pair of goals and an assist. This helped lead the Habs to a 5-4 shootout win over the Kings.
Want your voice heard? Join the A Winning Habit team!
Pacioretty was held scoreless against the St. Louis Blues two night later. Still, he led the team’s forwards in ice time with 19:17. He also led the way with four shots and played a solid two-way game before the Habs fell 3-2 in overtime.
The American winger was back over 20 minutes in ice time against the New Jersey Devils. He had five shots on goal and scored once in a 5-2 win for the Canadiens.
Tonight, Pacioretty exploded offensively for the Canadiens. In a dominating 10-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche, he scored four times and set up an Alexander Radulov goal. He once again had a game high eight shots on goal and was just too much for the Avs to handle.
Pacioretty’s defensive game never faltered
Pacioretty doesn’t just bring it on offence. He’s been playing with Tomas Plekanec and Radulov since the Galchenyuk injury and routinely plays the toughest matchups. He is also a regular contributor to the Habs penalty kill and may be a better defensive player than offensive player.
Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
It was also revealed earlier this week that Pacioretty played much of the month of November with a broken foot. His offence was slowed, but his defensive game remained strong and you can’t blame a guy for not being himself when he is skating on a broken foot.
Pacioretty suited up every night, never complained or made excuses when he wasn’t scoring and just went out and gave it 100 percent every night. This is the definition of a great leader. Many leaders are more of a “do as I say, not as I do” type of leader. Pacioretty is a “do as I say AND as I do on the ice” type of leader. This is what a team needs to maximize its potential.
Pacioretty leading offensively and defensively when team needs him most
This week, with Galchenyuk injured, Pacioretty has led the team on the ice, where it matters most. He has led the team to a 17 goal outburst in three games without their best offensive player. The Canadiens are 2-0-1 without Galchenyuk and haven’t needed Carey Price to steal any points.
Whether or not Therrien claimed Pacioretty was the worst captain in franchise history is unknown. What is known is that his leadership was called into question when the Canadiens fell apart in the second half of last season.
He has proven this week, he can take a team and carry it on his back when they need it most. Pacioretty has done an admirable job as the captain of the Canadiens this season.