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Pietrangelo leaves Blues, signs with Vegas

St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo (27) celebrates after scoring against the Vegas Golden Knights during the first period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Alex Pietrangelo heard it can snow in Las Vegas and wasn’t worried about bundling up his four children if necessary.

Maybe once in a blue moon. Pietrangelo won’t have to take a snow blower from his St. Louis home to the Nevada desert, though he hopes to bring the Stanley Cup there in the next seven years.

After leaving the Blues he led to the 2019 title to sign a $61.6 million contract with the Golden Knights, Pietrangelo hopes to play a big role in getting the young franchise to the top of the NHL. He and his St. Louis-born and raised wife are transplanting to Vegas from the only city they’ve known for a new chapter in their lives on and off the ice.

“I welcome the challenge,” Pietrangelo said on a video call Tuesday. “I welcome something new. I think it’s going to push me to become a better player. I think it’s going to hopefully get me outside my comfort zone to certainly try something that I’ve never done before. This is a good team, and I think I can really help.”

The Golden Knights bent over backwards to trade other players and court and sign the 30-year-old defenseman simply because he makes them a much better team. Pietrangelo led all playoff players in assists during his Cup run, scored a career-high 16 goals last season and was fourth in voting for the Norris Trophy as the league’s best on the blue line.

Pietrangelo considered other destinations but only visited Vegas and signed there because of the chance to win, a contract worth more per year than St. Louis offered and control over his future in the form of a “no-movement” clause that’s even more powerful than no-trade protection because it means a player can’t be waived, either.

“When you give someone a no-movement clause, they basically have more power in your organization than the owner does,” said Blues general manager Doug Armstrong, who added that he included it offers to Pietrangelo. “It takes a special person to get those things.”

After the Blues signed defenseman Torey Krug to a $45.5 million, seven-year deal Friday night, Vegas became the special team willing to commit to Pietrangelo, who prioritized the no-movement clause in his contract.

“For me, with my family situation having four kids under the age of 2, if I’m going to pick them up and move them away from somewhere that is the only thing that they know, I wanted to make sure that I was going to be comfortable there for a period of time,” Pietrangelo said. “They were willing to understand that and commit to that and that made me feel comfortable knowing that they understood why I was asking those questions and why I wanted that.”

Vegas rolled out the shiny gold carpet for Pietrangelo and his wife, Jayne, showing them the suburb of Summerlin that’s home to many players, the team’s practice facility and introducing him to not only coach Peter DeBoer, GM Kelly McCrimmon and hockey operations president George McPhee but also owner Bill Foley.

Talking with Foley and seeing the other moves the Golden Knights have made to move into perennial Cup contention convinced Pietrangelo to put St. Louis in his past and sign with Vegas.

“I was fairly with impressed with the way they operate and the way they go about their business,” Pietrangelo said. “I wanted to make sure that they’re sharing the same passion that I am for winning, and they do.”

Bruins’ Pastrnak, Marchand could miss start of next season

The Boston Bruins could be without two-thirds of their top line when the next NHL season starts after the team said Tuesday that David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand each underwent surgery last month.

Pastrnak isn’t expected to be fully recovered and able to play until mid-February after an operation to repair a torn labrum in his right hip Sept. 16 in New York. Pastrnak shared the Rocket Richard Trophy by tying for the league lead with 48 goals last season and missed some time in the playoffs because of injury.

Marchand won’t be good to go until roughly mid-January after having a sports hernia repaired Sept. 14 at UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, Massachusetts. He was the NHL’s first-team All-Star left wing in the postseason voting after having 87 points on 28 goals and 59 assists in 70 games when play was halted.

Boston defenseman Charlie McAvoy had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee Sept. 8 and is expected to be ready for the start of training camp.

The Bruins said each surgery was successful, but the reigning Presidents’ Trophy winners for finishing with the most points in the regular season will have an uphill climb to start early in 2021 if play begins Jan. 1 or soon thereafter, which the NHL is targeting.

Boston lost to eventual Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay in the second round of the playoffs in the Eastern Conference bubble in Toronto. The Bruins got to Game 7 of the Cup Final in 2019 before losing to St. Louis and have made the playoffs for four consecutive years.

Despite losing defenseman Torey Krug to St. Louis in free agency, they were considered among the favorites in 2021 to win their first title in a decade. There’s still the question of what will happen with 43-year-old captain Zdeno Chara, who’s a free agent.

Much of the Atlantic Division has also improved this offseason, making the challenge even tougher on the Bruins, who added big winger Craig Smith in free agency and will have to tap into their depth without Pastrnak and Marchand for some time.

“To get through the playoffs, which is what we want to be — a team that gets in and get through — that’s the ultimate goal,” general manager Don Sweeney said last week. “You have to have the ability to survive the war of attrition. Years that we’ve had success in that regard, sometimes it’s being fortuitous that you don’t get the catastrophic injuries. And other times, it’s just what happens in the course of the game.”

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