Richard Brian / Special to the Sun
Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 | 2 a.m.
One year ago, Max Pacioretty was enjoying his fifth day as a Golden Knight, Mark Stone was still an Ottawa Senator and Paul Stastny had yet to wear a Vegas sweater in a game. Hockey players aren’t different from anyone making a big move in needing time to adjust their new city, coworkers and life.
A year later, an entire Golden Knights line has spent a summer knowing where they would play and when, and the second act begins for them at 1:30 p.m. today when the Golden Knights open their preseason slate against the Arizona Coyotes at T-Mobile Arena.
“When I flew in here and kind of looked around and I realized this is was the group and the organization that I was going to be with for the next eight seasons I couldn’t have been happier,” Stone said. “It’s a simple group but we have fun, we enjoy coming to the rink, we enjoy being around each other.”
Rewind to last summer when Pacioretty and Stone were under contract with different teams and Stastny was a free agent. It takes a toll on player when he needs to uproot his life to come across the continent and a join a team in a city he has maybe visited only a handful of times.
Stone’s acquisition got the most attention when he came over at the trade deadline. But remember Pacioretty spent a summer in Montreal hearing that he might get traded but not knowing when or where. He was traded to Vegas on Sept. 10, three days before training camp began.
“I was sitting here last year in the hotel worrying about a lot of stuff — all good things — but where to live and what to expect after being in an organization for 10 years,” Pacioretty said. “I feel really comfortable right now. We’ve been here for about six weeks. The kids started school, I have everything set up ready to go and try to have the best camp possible.”
This year Pacioretty arrived in Vegas with time to spare before the preseason, spending time with the facility and around his teammates. He participated in a charity golf tournament two weeks ago and got to live life in town outside of hockey. He’s also not asked to be the new guy on a team that went to the Stanley Cup Final.
“Obviously I wanted to help the team but at the same time they had so much success prior to the trade that I was a little bit walking on eggshells,” Pacioretty said. “Knowing now that I’ve kind of earned my right to be a part of this team and spend a lot of the summer here and spend it with the guys and get close to them, it’s a much different feeling in camp for me this year.”
What was arguably Vegas’ best line last season did not exist in full until February. Two-thirds of it wasn’t there until mid-September, and the first didn’t arrive until Stastny signed on July 1. The three were terrific during the regular season and virtually unstoppable in the postseason.
If a year of being together in the summer makes them any better, watch out.
“The more you play, the more you build (chemistry), the more you hang out off the ice and talk the game and talk to your roommates, obviously the more trust you have in each other,” Stastny said. “The closer we are as guys, all of us, I think the closer we’ll be as a team