Montreal's Max Pacioretty
had a big regular season, but a very so-so playoffs. (Elsa/Getty Images)
By Allan Muir
While Montreal Canadiens executives and fans were regaling the team's season after a surprise appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals, one of the team's greatest legends was disgusted by their performance.
Hall of Famer Guy Lafleur told the French-language newspaper La Presse that it looked "as if everyone had given up" in the series-deciding 1-0 loss to the New York Rangers in Game 6.
"You do not play hockey for good seasons. You play to win the Stanley Cup," Lafleur said."You can't win [Game 5] and then not show up the next night."
He then directed his venom at two of the team's veteran forwards.
"Guys like [Thomas] Vanek and [Max] Pacioretty, you can not keep them on your team," he continued. "They should stay home if they are not willing to pay the price. Your team will never win with players that fade when there is adversity."
He won't have to worry about Vanek embarrassing La Sainte Flanelle much longer. His agent confirmed on Tuesday that the short-time Canadien will test the free agent market this summer.
But Lafleur's anger towards Pacioretty seems misplaced. To be fair, the big winger scored just five times in 17 playoff games after recording a career-high 39 goals in the regular season. Both his shots and shooting percentage plummeted in the postseason (3.23 and 9.1 percent, down from 3.7 and 14.4 percent, respectively) supporting any argument that he didn't get it done when his team needed him most.
But Pacioretty is a rare talent, a winger with size (6'-2", 217 pounds), speed and a reliable 30-goal touch. At 25, he's right in the sweet spot of his career, and with two or three seasons of upside still ahead of him, it's no stretch to think he could top 45 goals per season during the next couple of years. You don't dump a package like that over one sub-par spring.
You have to love Lafleur for speaking his mind, but he's flat-out wrong here.