A goal-scoring, top-six forward was one of the biggest needs for the Carolina Hurricanes heading into this offseason, and the Canes addressed that need in a big way Wednesday.
Carolina acquired sniper Max Pacioretty from the Vegas Golden Knights late on free agency’s opening day, as the Canes received Pacioretty and defenseman Dylan Coghlan in exchange for future considerations as Vegas dumped some cap.
On Thursday, the Hurricanes’ new star forward spoke with members of the media via Zoom to discuss his new home.
Here is everything Pacioretty had to say in his introductory news conference:
On the process of the trade and him finding out: I think early in the day I was getting a lot of messages. When you’re around the league a little bit longer people will start reaching out when they hear stuff. I thought that it could be a possibility I was going somewhere. I didn’t know specifically where. When I found out that it was Carolina, the GM of Vegas called me and we spoke briefly. I got confirmation from Don [Waddell], Rod [Brind’Amour] and even Tom [Dundon]. Once I spoke to everybody about how they wanted me and how I fit in, it was really exciting to join an organization like this and a team that is trying to win right now.
On his thoughts on the Canes from his experience against them: I’m getting myself into a hard-working group that wants to win hockey games. There’s no secret that everyone talks about the coach being one of the best in the league, if not the best. And also a buy-in attitude from a group that has really taken on the league by surprise the last couple of years by how hard they work and how everyone buys into the details. Hopefully I’m coming in now to be a part of it. I don’t want to step on any toes. There’s great players there already. I’m looking to help out any way that I can, whether it be with young guys or pitching in offensively. In all areas I’m looking to help out.
On what the Canes told him about his fit and on if he’s going to be the guy that can maybe score at will a little bit more: Definitely. My job is to put the puck in the net. I’ve done a really good job of that in my career. But as you get older and as teams get better and as goalies get better as you go further into the playoffs, that gets harder and harder to do. I work at my craft every day to try and make sure that my offense doesn’t dry up, especially as I get older. In fact, I think the last couple of years I’ve gotten even better at that, whether it being a little smarter on the ice or off the ice with my body. I feel like that’s so much to contribute to this team. What he said is exactly what they told me. The transparency there is that they want someone to come in and put the puck in the net. It’s so important in the playoffs that you have depth because you can shut down one or two guys. When you see the teams that win the cup, it’s the teams that can roll over four lines and anyone could put the puck in the net.
On how challenging his last year was and on if he feels like he’s put those injuries behind him: Our whole team was injured last year. I think we had 500+ man games lost. It was just a weird year where it seemed like everything went wrong. My injuries were really one offs and bad luck. It was a broken foot and another bone injury in my hand, and then it was a little bit of a core situation there but it didn’t keep me out too long. I hope that’s in my past. I’m doing everything that I can to move on from that. But in reality, as a group we had a lot of tough luck on the injury front and a lot of goofy or fluky injuries. Mine were no different from the rest of the guys in that sense.
On if he’s healthy now: I’m 100 percent. I had the foot that I spoke about and the hand, those got corrected right away being bone injuries. And then there was a little bit of trouble diagnosing the injury at the end of the year, but once we did it only really took about a week and a half and I finished out the year and felt better about my game than ever before. I’m excited about how I skated at the end of the year, and I’m looking forward to keeping that momentum going into this year.
On joining forces with Brent Burns: When I heard rumblings that it was maybe Carolina and I saw that Burnsy signed, it seems like every offseason Don and all the guys there in Carolina are trying to add pieces to help them put this puzzle together to ultimately come up with the ultimate prize. Yeah, there was a lot of animosity between me and Burnsy. In fact, last night I got a Facetime call from a number that wasn’t in my found book. I had my wife look it up, and it was actually Burnsy. I called him back, and we had a little bit of a virtual meeting. We spoke about one time when we got into it pretty hard and gave each other some cross checks. It’s exciting going in with a guy. Us being older guys, you don’t really want to go in there and step on anyone’s toes. This team has a had a lot of success without me. I’m just looking to come in and be part of the puzzle, not be too demanding or anything. Going in with Burnsy is nice because we can kind of work off each other in that sense. It just helps us get situated with the group a little bit quicker, I think. Playing for Pete DeBoer and Steve Spott, they tell me every day Burnsy stories. As soon as they found out about the trade, they said ‘you’re going to love this guys. He’s a great team guy.’ I’m really excited top play with him.
On them clearing the air pretty quickly: Yeah, it was one little crack of a joke about him saying how now he can win the Lady Byng because he won’t have to try and cross check me in the face again. We went at it pretty good last year, but that’s what makes him such a good player. He’s a competitor whether his team is in the playoffs or out of the playoffs, he’s going to give you the best he’s got. It wasn’t fun going up against him for a lot of the nights being in the same conference and division.
On him and Burns being the kinds of guys teams bring in to push them over the edge to win the cup: We hope to be. Like I said, this team is so close. In the playoffs I thought they outplayed the Rangers in that series. Obviously they had a little bit of bad luck and some injuries and what not, but this team is really, really close. I’ve been on teams that are close, and you’re just one or two pieces away when you’re that close. When you’re one game away, you just need to add one or two guys and that helps out your depth tremendously. Burnsy is a guy who plays huge minutes, so I think that’s an area that can help the team as well. And obviously people make a lot of note of the power play and scoring goals in the playoffs, and that’s where I help out as well. I’m really looking forward to it. As soon as the dust suttled and we focused on the hockey aspect of it, I really got excited about what’s in front of me with this opportunity.
On how you walk the line of finding their spot on the team without stepping on toes: Well, this team already has tremendous leadership. That’s known around the league. From management to coaches to owner to players down, everybody knows that this team has a buy-in mentality. That’s no secret. Every time I play against Carolina our whole pre-scout seems to be around how this team is going to outwork you. This team’s got character. This team stands up for each other. I don’t expect to go in and feel any animosity or negativity. It’s a different situation where a lot of the guys have already reached out. And it’s ‘we want to win. We’re so happy that you’re a part of this thing.’ Wherever they put me, I just want to do my role to help this team win. At the end of the day, this team is close. Any way that I can contribute, I’ll do whatever it takes for that.
On his impressions of Carolina’s existing forward group: They’re world-class players. They have a lot of skill in the lineup. You mentioned Aho. Svechnikov. Teravainen. Kotkaniemi. I like Jarvis. He really impressed me a lot. There’s just so much skill in this lineup. The back end can be argued that it’s one of the best in the league. Great goaltender. That’s what it takes to win in this league. It takes seven games oftentimes for four series. It takes everybody. There’s no dead weight on this team. Everyone kind of pulls it in the right direction, and the skill level is off the charts. Like I said, you’ve got to have that depth to keep moving forward. That’s where I hope I can step in and help out in that regard.
On if he knew Carolina was going to have an outdoor game and on his thoughts on that: No, I didn’t...Oh, I’m so excited. I’ve played in three or four of them now. My biggest thing with those were that my kids weren’t old enough to completely enjoy it. This one being at home, that’s amazing. They’re always a lot of fun, especially when you are on the winning side of them. Being at home is going to be really special. Everyone talks about the fans in Carolina, so I couldn’t imagine for that outdoor game. That’s going to be a lot of fun.