Max Pacioretty at Ambri, Switzerland

According to Corriere del Ticino, the daily newspaper that serves the Ticino Canton of Switzerland, Max Pacioretty has asked for and received his release from Ambri-Piotta and is returning to North America.  Pacioretty scored a goal in his first game with Ambri and then was pointless for four straight games before a bout with the flu felled him last week.  Reports were he was then kept out of last weekend’s games because of restrictions on the number of imports a Swiss National League team can use in a game (4).  The hockey team now says Pacioretty has an inflamed elbow (tennis elbow) and, because of insurance issues, has asked to return to North America for treatment.  That’s the story and everyone seems to be sticking with it.

However, there is a sub-text.   Ambri coach Kevin Constantine is deperately trying to hold onto his job.  His team just ended a ten game losing streak and is buried in the SNL cellar.    Plus, although more prevalent in Russia, European teams in general often treat foreign players as mercenaries who can be disposed of with little notice or regard to contractual obligations.  Although leading Ambri in shots-on-goal, Pacioretty had trouble scoring.   Now he’s gone.

The official statement from the club reads, “Having heard the advice of the medical staff, the (HC Ambri-Piotta) has decided to accommodate the request of the player Max Pacioretty can return immediately to America for health reasons.  Pacioretty’s eventual return will depend on full recovery, the duration of the lockout and an available slot for an international player on the roster.”

This development follows Monday’s news that Zug defenseman Raphael Diaz is bothered by a hip problem and will miss at least one game.  Reportedly Diaz has been bothered by the problem since training camp.