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Three Theories On What’s Happening With Max Pacioretty And Why Gallant/VGK Offered Contrasting Messages

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

After 67 days being out with a lower body injury, the Golden Knights are finally getting Paul Stastny back in the lineup. It appeared as though this would be the game in which the re-built second line of Stastny, Alex Tuch, and Max Pacioretty would finally all be on the ice together.

Then, morning skate in New Jersey happened and it became clear that was not to be.

Instead, Pacioretty would be kept out of the lineup completely, but the coach and front office had different reasons as to why when each was asked.

Timeline (as reported by David Schoen, Las Vegas Review-Journal)

11:30 AM EST – Golden Knights take to the ice at Prudential Center for morning skate

11:38 AM EST – Max Pacioretty skates as an extra on the fourth line with Reaves, Bellemare, and Carrier. Stastny takes line rush with Tuch and Lindberg and Eakin with Carpenter and Nosek.

11:50 AM EST – Pacioretty does not participate in normal power play drill. Instead, Karlsson takes his place and Stastny fills the role on the second unit.

12:24 PM EST – Gallant confirms Stastny will play and will be on the second line with Alex Tuch and Oscar Lindberg. Is also asked about Pacioretty…

Is there anything wrong with Max Pacioretty? -Schoen

Well not that I know of. Why? -Gallant

He was taking different line rushes and wasn’t working with the number one power play unit… -Schoen

No. Nothing wrong with Max. You’ve got to scratch somebody tonight and we’ll decide tonight after warmups… We’ll know before warmups but… he’s fine. -Gallant

1:16 EST PM – The Golden Knights, via a team spokesperson, confirm Pacioretty does have a “minor injury.”

The team feels it is best for him to miss one game rather than six. (It) is management’s decision to hold him out tonight. -Golden Knights team spokesperson

So here we are. Is Pacioretty hurt? Is he a healthy scratch? Did something else happen that they don’t want to tell us about? What in the world is going on?

Of course, we can only read/listen to what we are being told, so there certainly could be more information that could change all of this, but from what we know there are really only three possibilities of what could be happening in this situation.

Here are each of the three narratives and the logic behind fitting every piece of information we have into that particular story. After writing them all out, I can honestly say that I don’t really have an opinion as to which it might be. They all make sense, but they all have parts that make you shake your head and say, how could this happen? So, instead of guessing myself, I’ll simply present them and let you be the judge.

Possibility 1
Gallant is scratching Pacioretty and the Golden Knights front office is trying to soften the media blowback on the decision

Explanation: With the return of Stastny, Gallant had to make a lineup decision on who to take out. He chooses to stay with Lindberg over Pacioretty, thus causing Pacioretty to be a healthy scratch. He has him skate amongst the fourth liners as an extra in morning skate and rearranges his power play units accordingly without him. Gallant then says after the game that there’s nothing wrong with Max and “you’ve got to scratch somebody.”

The Golden Knights front office, likely embarrassed by the fact that a player they spent many assets to acquire is being scratched in favor of Oscar Lindberg go into spin mode. They say it was their decision to have Pacioretty removed from the lineup to throw a wrench in the works of it being a clear cut scratch from the coach.

Explanation 2
Pacioretty is indeed injured and Gallant was trying to cover up the injury

The plan all morning was for Pacioretty to not play and thus his participation in line rushes and power play units was never going to happen. Following morning skate, Gallant, who has a history of being not-so forthcoming about injuries, says “there’s nothing wrong with Max” in an attempt to downplay any injury Pacioretty has sustained.

The team sees the blowback of many saying that if Pacioretty is not hurt that he is instead a healthy scratch and realizes they must issue more information to destroy that narrative as it’s not true, he is hurt. So, they say it was management’s decision in an attempt to absolve Gallant from lying in his response.

Explanation 3
Pacioretty is being held out for another reason

Say Pacioretty broke a rule or did something he wasn’t supposed to during the first portion of this trip. The team decides to hold him out of the game but they do not feel the need to explain exactly what the reasoning for it is. (We have reason to believe this has happened before with the Golden Knights, but were never able to 100% confirm it so we never reported it.)

Rather than deal with the repercussions of saying Pacioretty has essentially been suspended, the team decides to say he’s been hurt. However, the message of what they were planning on telling the media does not make it to Gallant and he says “he’s fine.” Thus creating the discrepancy. The team doesn’t like the idea of him being called a healthy scratch, but also doesn’t want to say he’s been suspended, so they say he’s sustained a “minor injury.”


16-2-0 When Scoring At Least Three Goals




  1. Brian

    Partying like a rock star with all the pals from back home. Suspended…… ! (not)

    I’m inclined to believe Gallant NEVER gives up even the slightest “truth” regarding any injuries and Max has tweaked something that is nagging him. No way do they put a PR spin on him being a “healthy” scratch over Lindberg, but I gotta believe whoever the spokesperson is they most likely get a sit down with GG and GMGM so everybody gets on the same page. Nothing worse than the “double spin” from the Team.

    New CBA has to fix all this crap about injuries. Write it into the contract and let everybody know.

    He could use a press box session anyway and take in the view. Stastny and Tuch even said how much they learned watching a few from up top.

    • Brian strait

      Just saw from agent Alan Walsh, Patch has had 16 points in the last 14 games. Now think about this for a minute…….would anybody in a clear mind healthy scratch somebody with those numbers…….??? I mean come on—-we need to Kengineer something newsworthy better than that theory, especially on limited sleep.

      • You can’t be serious. We are going to trust the agent coming to his client’s defense?!? If he was scratched, of course the agent wouldn’t want that narrative out there. Come on Brian, you are better than this.

  2. Tim

    Thanks. The third option seems less likely due to the fact that he doesn’t seem like a rule breaker and Ally interviewed his mom who came down to watch all three games. Sucks for her that he won’t be playing.

  3. Richard

    Another alternative…Pacs does have a bothersome knock that is not getting better. If it were the playoffs he’d play…but better to give him a rest. Gallant is right in that he’s fine…he could play. Admin is right in that it would be better to sit one day then let it get worse and turn into a bigger issue.

  4. Nick R

    I’m inclined to believe that he may have a nagging minor injury. He did not look 100% against the Islanders to me and he may have talked his way into the lineup since his family is there to watch him play. We all know how Turk is about disclosing injuries.

    • Charles

      Plus Stastny was not ready. I think if he was then Patches would not have played last game

  5. Mike G

    I agree that it has something to do with the same injury that kept him out of a couple of games previously. He hasn’t been the same player since returning from that injury….whatever it was. It cracks me up how perturbed GG gets when the media puts their own spin something, when if he would just be forthright with the information there would be nothing to spin. This is going to get very interesting…

  6. Charles

    He has a slight injury maybe an ankle something he can play with but needs to rest. When he says he fine, he is saying it’s nothing serious but doesn’t want to say he has a slight injury. I think this was the player he was alluding to being a game time decision in NY v Islanders. I think if Stastny was ready last game they would have sat him then.

  7. the Hockey God

    in practice MP was working on his circle turns at Vegas practice rink when he was nursing existing tweak.

  8. Joe

    “It’s a maintenance day.” That’s all you have to say. It’s a cover all from everything to a bad cold to a dislocated toe. Most players need a few during a season, so it wouldn’t have been this shrouded in secrecy mix up.

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