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Between Dustin Boyd’s demotion to waivers, the continued struggles of Montreal’s powerplay and an ice cold top-6, Habs forwards once again stole the spotlight in both the media and our forums over the past seven days. However, without a doubt, Max Pacioretty’s recent comments elicited the liveliest conversations amongst our board members. As such, in this week’s instalment of ATB, we discuss those remarks as well as Jacques Martin’s developmental methods.

First, a quick referesher. In comments made to both RDS and the Team 990, Max Pacioretty expressed great satisfaction with his situation on the farm, stating that he wants to play in Hamilton for the entirety of the season. He later added that he has no desire to be called up to Montreal if it is to play in a bottom-six capacity and criticized Jacques Martin for penalizing him after mistakes. Naturally, the above statements drew many reactions, with our forum members both knocking his apparent sense of entitlement and coming to his defence.

Like many others, The Chicoutimi Cucumber sees Patches’ views as a reflection of his immaturity: “It is the player’s job to make the case that he deserves more ice, that he should be used in situation X or Y. On an uncharitable reading of his comments, Pacioretty seems to feel that because he has a top 6 ‘profile’ he is entitled to extended use on the top-6 at the NHL level. It doesn’t work like that, especially on good teams; and it would not surprise me at all of this attitude was part of the package that led to Martin concluding he wasn’t ready.

Conversely, many contributors felt that the forward’s comments were accurate and a rather damning condemnation of Martin’s methods. In fact, the discussion quickly veered towards the veteran bench boss. Bar fumes at watching veterans be given extra leeway while many younger players are forced to sit: “This is great insight from the players and their regards to the rookie treatment. I have been against this mistake and you sit crap from JM. I watch vets like Hammer and Spaceman make mistake after mistake after mistake with no consequences, when it’s the rookies who should be given free reigns to make mistakes and learn from them. I love his desire to be a top 6 forward, and I agree with him, I hate when scorers are put onto grinder designated lines.”. Hab29Retired concurs, adding that Pacioretty will never become a top forward “playing 5-7 minutes a game with Pyatt, Darche, Boyd or Moen.”

In this instance, it seems important to consider the exact reasons why a player is demoted or benched. It is all well and good to lump everything in the ‘mistake’ category, but really there are different types of mistakes. If a young player is committing errors due to his inexperience, then by all means he should be afforded a chance to recover. Conversely, if one is making mistakes because of his lack of effort or carelessness, then punishment seems hardly inappropriate. P.K Subban’s commitment is evident every game and, as a result, he is more easily forgiven for his at times overzealous play. On the other hand, the likes of Pacioretty, or Latendresse previously, do not necessarily have the attitude that matches the role they covet. And, thus far, Pacioretty’s attitude is hardly ideal. Knocking the coach publicly is neither smart nor particularly mature, but what is most perplexing is his stated refusal to accept a bottom-six role. After all, if you took a quick straw poll of minor leaguers, how many would prefer playing 18 minutes in the AHL versus 5 minutes the NHL?

As for the notion of it being inappropriate for a young, scoring winger to be put on a bottom line, there is something to be said with playing with stable, veteran players and being insulated from the opposition’s top defensive players. As Seb points out “people don’t see that the best way to develop a player is to give him solid veteran linemates, some consistency and to avoid over-exposure to risky situations to allow the player to get his feet under him at the NHL level “

That’s all for this edition of ATB. Until next week, see you on the boards.

Louis Moustakas can be reached for comments, questions, cross-checks and, of course, fan mail at [email protected]