The Max Pacioretty situation in Montreal remains quite messy, and at some point soon there has to be a point of no return.
There's been a lot of turnover in Montreal as the Canadiens have desperately tried to get back to being competitive and establish a winning culture over the past few years, and it has been rumored that Pacioretty could be the next to go. The Habs' captain has been the subject of trade rumors for much of the past year.
There were reports that he was nearly traded to the Los Angeles Kings at this year's NHL Draft before the trade fell through because Pacioretty couldn't agree to an extension with the Kings -- a claim the Kings' president denied this week.
"It never went that far, we were interested in Max more than [Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin] was interested in letting him go," Robitaille said "He knows he has a good player on his hands."
The 29-year-old is entering the final season of his current contract and it's looking pretty increasingly likely that this could be his final season in Montreal. He told the media at his charity golf tournament this week that there have been no negotiations with the Canadiens on a contract extension to this point.
"I can't control that situation," said Pacioretty. "I've got to worry about what I can control and that is out of my control when it comes down to it. "Whether it's [Marc Bergevin] or my agent, they will have discussions that are necessary, but at this point I can't control any of that."
But throughout all of this, Pacioretty and his camp have maintained that they're still willing to sign an extension in Montreal. On Thursday, Pacioretty's agent, Alan Walsh, took to twitter to say that any reports claiming otherwise are likely fed to the media by the Canadiens.
Obvious these “sources” are coming from the club. Max will always take the high road and repeats again, he is ready to sign an extension with Montreal TODAY. It was Montreal that traded Max to LA at the draft and it was a DONE DEAL subject to Max signing an extension with LA. https://t.co/KsLbJ6prJr— Allan Walsh (@walsha) August 30, 2018
It's interesting that Walsh, who was hired by Pacioretty around the time that the negotiations with the Kings fell through, essentially confirms that a deal was in place around the same time that Robitaille denied that report.
This could be a case of Walsh trying to spin some damage control for his client, who may not actually want to stay in Montreal as badly as the camp is making it seem. But it also could be a case of the Canadiens leaking information to paint Pacioretty's camp as difficult as they struggle to get the situation resolved. Either way, it appears that one side isn't being totally up front here.
In any case, the relationship seems to be getting more and more toxic and ugly as this thing progresses. With the season around the corner, it'll be interesting to see how Pacioretty handles the unrest and goes about his job as a leader -- assuming he's still in Montreal and without progress on an extension. If he's hoping to maximize his next contract, he'll need a much better year than he had last season, when he scored 17 goals and 37 points in 64 games -- his worst totals since becoming an NHL regular in 2011.