The Montreal Canadiens fan base grew excited and impatient on July 1st when there was chatter that free agent Paul Stastny was interested in signing with the Habs. It appeared almost impossible for the Winnipeg Jets to retain his services and Montreal had the cap space to take on his contract and make it part of the Canadiens' offensive arsenal.
So, what did go wrong that it ended up with Stastny signing a three-year deal with the Vegas Golden Knights. According to Marc De Foy of the Journal de Montreal, it seems like Stastny did his homework before looking to commit long term to the Canadiens, and what he found out pushed him far away from Montreal...
According to information obtained by De Foy, Stastny contacted Max Pacioretty before becoming available on the free agent market on July 1st, but the the Habs captain could not ensure his presence with the team next year. The two forwards have been close friends since they played together on the American team's roster in the World Championships back in 2012.
Because he couldn't get a confirmation from Pacioretty, Stastny therefore preferred to get a deal with the Golden Knights, seeing that the messy situation in Montreal appeared to be too much to deal with.
"The Habs might have had a chance to hire Stastny if he had been assured that Max Pacioretty would stay with the team," reports De Foy, as translated from French from the Journal.
In the same report, De Foy is also reporting that GM Marc Bergevin has ignored Pacioretty for months.
"It is said that Bergevin makes life particularly hard for players who have difficulty on the ice," De Foy reports, as translated from French. "It goes so far as to say that he makes it a personal affair. He ignored Pacioretty for months last season. Yet he is his captain and one of his team's deans in terms of years of service."
Of course, when we think of saga behind the scenes in Montreal, the names of veteran players like Andrei Markov and P.K. Subban come to mind. Subban was reportedly traded because of a dressing room issue, and Markov approached the Canadiens to return last November and was disrespected by his former club and its GM.
If there is no respect for current players, such as captain Pacioretty, how could Stastny be sure to get some if he signed there. We can somewhat understand why he picked Vegas instead...