Centre or wing? Canadiens’ Alex Galchenyuk is tired of that question

It will be interesting to see what happens the first time a journalist asks Alex Galchenyuk at training camp whether he wants to play centre or wing next season.

“Actually, the part of the negotiation and the clause I put in the contract is whenever I get asked this question I can walk away from the scrum now,” Galchenyuk said during a conference call Thursday, one day after the 23-year-old agreed to a new three-year contract with the Canadiens worth US$14.7 million.

“I’m just kidding,” Galchenyuk added. “I’ve been answering this question for so many times that for me, like I’ve said before, I’m a hockey player and my main thing was to re-sign in Montreal as soon as possible, and I’m very happy with the deal.

“To be in Montreal, I love the team, I love the fans, I love the city, and playing at Bell Centre in front of the fans in Montreal, that’s what brings the passion out of me. I really don’t focus on playing centre or wing. We have a great coach that will decide where to put me and I know what my skill-set (is) and what I can bring to the table. It won’t be a big issue where I play.”

Galchenyuk became a restricted free agent on July 1 and when asked about the contract negotiations with general manager Marc Bergevin, the forward said: “After the season, I focused on my preparation for next year and (agent Pat Brisson) took care of the negotiations. It went very well. We are glad we avoided arbitration. There was no doubt in my mind that we would come to a new agreement. I am very pleased that this is done. ”

• Listen to Galchenyuk conference call

• Galchenyuk’s new contract a good deal for both sides, by Stu Cowan

• Big payday in future if Galchenyuk can take next step, by Sportsnet’s Eric Engels

• Connor McDavid signs eight-year, $100-million extension with Oilers, nhl.com

• Canadiens fans will miss Radulov and his smile, by Stu Cowan

70 Comments

  1. FloridaMike says:

    Not sure why we haven’t picked up some more free agrents (Iggy, Jagr) and so forth. Maybe we are going to try to develop our youth this year?

    Galchenyuk should play defense. You can never have enough defensemen with our GM. The fact that we don’t have at least 9 NHL defensemen heading into our training camp must be worrisome to him!

    • Loop_G says:

      I really hope we don’t get Iggy, he is so done and Jagr is a far better and more complete player at this point. I hope that both DLR and Hudon find a place on this roster, so while I would like to see Jagr on a 1 year deal, I hope some space is left.

      • FloridaMike says:

        I think that Jagr could help our power play. He is still a beast to knock off the puck. Wasn’t it rumored that he was looking into playing in Montreal 3 or 4 years ago?

        DLR and Hudon are center/ wings right? I agree. I would like to see both make it.

        Man, it would be good in Markov came back to and then we could sign Jagr for a 1 year contract.

        Game over man! Game over!

  2. DipsyDoodler says:

    One of the constant complaints from the HIBC (*) crowd is that Galchenyuk was ruined (strong version) or improperly developed (mild version).

    But here are the facts:

    1. Allowed to go straight to the NHL to gain better experience (and income).
    2. Sheltered the first few years, i.e. given less responsibility: allowed to play on the wing, not asked to be on the 1st line.
    3. Not asked to carry the team a la Hall/Nugent-H/Yakupov.
    4. Yet given ample powerplay time (second most among forwards after Pacioretty over the last three years)
    5. And finally, despite what you read on H I/O, HE WAS STARTED AT CENTRE THIS YEAR!!! On the first line! With Max and Radulov! Danault only took that spot after Galchenyuk was injured. And when he came back he was again tried at Centre. He played more Centre than anyone besides Plekanec and Danault this season.

    (* Had I Been the Coach)

    —–

    • Cal says:

      Only in Montreal do you lose your 1st line spot when you return from injury and a 3rd liner takes it.

      • bwoar says:

        Nothing to do with struggling after injury and that line being dysfunctional.

        Only in Montreal…

        Would fans expect the coach to watch a line become a tire-fire and do nothing, because they know better & it’s actually good for the player.

      • Loop_G says:

        He would have lost his spot on almost every team in the NHL after his return, due to his play. Keep in mind that moving him down may simply have been giving him an opportunity to play and work on his game in less pressure filled situations, and not an insult as many here imply.

    • Captain aHab says:

      I think point 1 was actually more about showing off the shiny new toy to make people forget the horrible season they just had. The Habs should have gone for a second horrible year instead to draft another young impact player. Remember that Bergie has always said, right from the start, that a guy cannot spend too much time in the AHL to learn the craft. And yet he immediately promoted Galchenyuk to the NHL. Yes I know he would have had to go back to Junior but the step right to the NHL is very very steep.

      —————-
      Drop da puck already!

  3. nextguy says:

    In the faceoff circle Gally is dreadful. Plekanec, Danault, Desharnais, and Mitchell were miles ahead and all above 50% last year. But he still had very good possession stats. My memory is foggy on his defensive play as a center. I watched a lot of games last year but don’t remember his positioning to be too bad. Maybe he dragged his ass skating back? Does anyone recall?

    • bwoar says:

      He doesn’t play as hard without the puck is all. Lags somewhat getting back and doesn’t engage the same as he will on the other side of centre.

      I don’t care really, he’s a C and should stay there. It wasn’t so bad we can’t live with it and plenty of skilled centres aren’t quite 200-ft warriors.

      IMO Drouin is pretty much the same from what I’ve seen, but I’ve seen much less of him.

    • Coach K says:

      Hi nextguy. As an old minor hockey coach I can tell you that face-offs can go one of 3 ways.

      A clean win (not very common)
      A clean loss (also not very common)
      Scrambled draw (most common)

      Sometimes the best you can do is scramble the draw and tie up the opposing centre. In those cases, it is up to the nearest winger (and sometimes the defenceman depending on the faceoff alignment) to grab the puck on a scrambled draw. If he falls asleep on the job then it looks like a loss for the centre on the stat sheet that most TV “analysts” use. They never consider a scrambled draw that leads to puck possession as a win though but they sure seem to add it to the loss column if it goes the other way.

      I suspect that Galchenyuk’s so-called weakness in the face-off circle can more likely than not, be attributed to wingers missing their assignments.

      As for his defensive play, I have watched him closely. It isn’t as bad as some think. I’ve seen him backcheck like his hair is on fire on many occasions (certainly more than Max). What I have noticed though, is that he will run a round a bit when his wingers (particularly Byron) fails to get out and cover the point shot. (Byron does this a lot I might add). What then happens is that Gaclhenyuk will try to do Byron’s job instead of concentrating on shutting down the slot.

      If I’m coaching, I tell Galchenyuk, forget about covering the point shot. We have Price in net. If he can’t stop a point shot that he can see then we have bigger problems. We’ll give them that shot all day long.

      Besides, it isn’t your responsibility and if you’re out there trying to help then nobody is covering the slot. If you are covering for Byron then I have to fix two players who are out of position instead of just one. Simplify your defensive coverage and just cover that space between the circles and help your defenceman to come up with pucks in the corners. That is your job. Period!

      I’d also get a coach to teach him how to box out and get better body position so that he’s no longer tempted to reach from behind with his stick. (That is one area of his game that drives me nuts). The instruction would be, get your back into the opponent’s chest and for Christ’s sake, tie up his stick so he can’t legally score!!! It’s all about moving your feet and you don’t need elite level skill to do it effectively.

      If he makes those two adjustments he will be fine but it will take some good coaching to break those bad habits.

      -Adversity Does Not Build Character…it Reveals it-
      (James Lane Allen)

      • bwoar says:

        Good insights Coach!

        • Coach K says:

          Thanks. I’ve used this instruction many times and it has worked.

          My approach in practice was not to rip the player and tell him he’s crap. Instead the message was, “You are a very good player but you have some bad habits.” “Let’s make a few adjustments in your game and see if we can’t turn those bad habits into good ones.”

          More often than not I got the “buy-in” I was looking for and everyone on the team benefited.

          -Defence doesn’t win championships…it only stops you from losing them-

  4. Don Birnam says:

    Hola Amigos!
    Iggy played 19 games for the Kings last year.
    6 goals,3 assists, 5 fights and didn’t lose any.
    Offer him a one year, $1mill deal and put Chucky at Centre.
    Saludos!

    Viva Timo Libre!

    • DipsyDoodler says:

      Except he said he learned to hate us in Boston.

      And the guy who hates you doesn’t suddenly fall in love with you except in Romantic Comedies so I’m told.

      —–

    • Loop_G says:

      Have you seen him skate? I would wager Hudon would perform better in the same role at this point. A trade can invigorate a player for a short time and that seems to have happened to Iggy in LA, but I really think he’s done.

  5. Dust says:

    I honestly don’t get this obsession by fans and media to have Chucky play centre. He is better on the wing.
    Why don’t they start asking why Patches isn’t playing centre. He is big. Just put him there.

    • Captain aHab says:

      I think the obsession comes from the fact that when he was drafted, he was presented as the solution to the #1 C problem. Instead of developing him with that goal in mind, he has been yanked around. I don’t really care what position he plays anymore as long as he isn’t traded for an inferior player.

      —————-
      Drop da puck already!

    • Forum Dog says:

      As aHab points out, he was drafted to be a centre. They have desperately needed a #1 offensive centre. And while you say that he has been better on the wing, offensively speaking he has been much more productive down the middle. Especially when he has had a chance to play with top wingers. Faceoffs and defensive shortcomings are the only things preventing him from playing there, and they should be surmountable if the team commits to it.

      • Coach K says:

        100% correct Forum Dog! Kudos for recognizing and speaking the truth.

        Very few here seem to acknowledge that the only time he has had the chance to play centre under Therrien was he was paired with marginal wingers whose game did not suit his ability to create something out of nothing.

        I lost count of how many times I’d be screaming at the TV for his wingers to drive to the net when they didn’t have the puck. You could tell that’s what he expected them to do as well and when they failed to read what he was trying to generate he’d look exasperated. You only have a split-second window of opportunity to create that one scoring chance that could be the difference between winning and losing and 3rd line-caliber wingers typically don’t have that.

        Maybe that will change if he and Drouin get to play together because they both have that split-second decision making instinct and an ability to read the ice.

        -Adversity Does Not Build Character…it Reveals it-
        (James Lane Allen)

    • HabinBurlington says:

      So you find it odd a fan base that hasn’t had a true bonafide #1 offensive centerman with size since Bobby Smith (arguably) is “obsessed” with the guy we hoped and perhaps still could be that for us again?

      I don’t understand how fans of the (former) most successful club in NHL history should be eager to have such a centerman.

      • Dust says:

        If it happens it happens. But at the end of year pressers both the gm and coach said he will be starting the next year at wing.
        So what more is there to talk about regarding Chucky playing centre?
        I get wanting that number 1 centre but based on the information given to us by the team maybe you should try and think of other avenues, not the one avenue that was told by both GM and Coach won’t be happening to start next year

  6. Captain aHab says:

    Anyone know if, since the beginning of the cap era, the Habs have ever had anywhere close to the capspace to start the season that they are likely to have this year? My guess is that if Gainey had not gone on the smurf spending spree, he might have been in the same position.

    —————-
    Drop da puck already!

  7. gordon bombay says:

    Expect the unexpected

  8. Rugger says:

    I have a crazy idea for determining if he can play center. Let’s have a training camp before the season and the coach that hasn’t really had much of a chance to work with him can spend much effort working on face-offs (maybe bring in an expert from the past?) and playing a 200 ft game. Then we could have some games before the real games start and have him take every face off that we can get him on the ice for. By late September we should have a good idea if he will work out there.

    • Habfan17 says:

      Not so crazy. When Malhotra retired, I wanted the Habs to hire him to work with the centres. He did have a positive influence on the Habs centres when he was there playing, All their face off percentages went up.

      I wonder if there are any recently retired centres, with at least a 50% face off record, that could be brought in?

      Habfan17

      • habs001 says:

        The Habs main problem at face offs is in key situations when in most cases the other teams best face off player is better than any one on the Habs…Start of PP, start of PK…key end of game situations..One good face player will cause other players to have better win % as they face the other teams weaker centres..

    • Captain aHab says:

      They can do this for all of the LW and move the one who looks like the best to C. Still think Galchenyuk ends up on RW.

      —————-
      Drop da puck already!

    • HabinBurlington says:

      Amen Rugger!

  9. Forum Dog says:

    I’ve argued the other side of this in the recent past, but going back and looking at Drouin’s last year of junior, he took 850 draws and won 53% of them. Tampa sent him back to play the position and he did. Galchenyuk has been playing the position on and off for a couple of years now, but needs improvement in faceoffs. Maybe it’s possible that both these guys will play there? Not this year in all likelihood, but is there a chance that, once Pleks is gone and these guys have fully embraced their defensive responsbilities, Habs could go:

    Drouin
    Galchenyuk
    Danault

    as their centremen?

  10. Mavid says:

    90
    º¤ø ¸„ø¤GO HABS GOø¤º°¨¨¨°º¤ø ¸„ø¤GO HABS GOø¤º°¨¨¨°º¤ø ¸„ø¤GO HABS GOø¤º°¨¨¨°º¤ø ¸„ø¤GO HABS GOø¤º°¨¨¨°º¤ø ¸„ø¤GO HABS GOø¤º

    Weed Wacker – and Flamethrower Grandma Smurf

  11. Arnold 56-79 says:

    Team need is much more at centre. Despite shortcomings he has enough raw talent to work with. He has moves, can maintain possession, pass decently in the offensive zone. Speed is adequate, not great but if his vision of the ice improves he’ll be better able to control pace. He tries to do too much too soon and needs to find a better rhythm.

    Faceoffs and defensive coverage are the big weaknesses, but can be learned and improved on.

    Might try to get him intensive specialized coaching about technique and positional responsibilities and give him time to grow into a confident pivot.

    • CHesterfield says:

      no. get some centres. Skill on 3, push back on d. Setups are nowhere for CH. everyone uses system, make ne one, teams understand 5 years too late.

      Hell!

  12. 25soonenough says:

    Captain Koivu, your line combinations are spot on.

  13. Islandhabber69 says:

    Can I have some of whatever your on??…..

  14. RightNyder says:

    So when is the oleaginous MB going to put on his best smedium golf shirt and tell the cameras he loves Galchenyuk to the moon and back?

    • MustardTiger1337 says:

      a 23 year old exciting player who can play top line mins at C or Wing and you have issues?

      Maybe you don’t like his new contract :smiley-face:

    • CHesterfield says:

      How hard do you hit a deer fly? Hard if it is your friend. Not friend, you are cold viking and let wallow in painful death. Baby! MB has good relations, good hair something is going on no?!

    • charmenian says:

      lol! had to look up oleaginous…he will forever be known to me as greasy mb…

    • Rad says:

      The way he fawned over “Shawsie” you mean. Either when Galch scores 50 goals in 1 season or drops 30 lbs. and is in the same weight class as Shawsie — at which time we will witness some lavish lackey bootlicking going on.

  15. CHesterfield says:

    Should Plex retire a CH? I could live with. Why not the impossible, RNH for plea and Gally (Gallagher) with $? Plug the right like old times and a legit center. This guy is ready to storm the east! We need, what an logan to bolster? Maretensen is your black paint. I was wrong to believe in King. I am wrong often, but not Draistail, he is bad chi.

  16. pmaraw says:

    Please offer sheet draisaitl

  17. prep says:

    Funny captain koivu has the 4tj and 3rd line centers making more than the tip two

    • Captain Koivu says:

      Not true….Galchenyuk makes more than Shaw. Ideally Galchenyuk 1C, Plekanec 2C, Shaw 3C and Danault 4C but Plekanec would have to be the player he was 3 years ago. Maybe he will have a bounce back season this year.
      We are going to miss Markov no doubt…if he doesn’t sign, but aside from that our Defence is more solid than last year. I didn’t like the Nate trade but that’s that…whatever. Emelin, gonna miss the hits but not his poor defence and huge salary.
      Drouin in and Rads out….I can live with it. We haven’t gotten any better this year but better for years to come. MB made lateral moves and Vegas done us a favour.
      Let the youngsters play, Hudon, McCarron, Scherbak, Juulsen and Lernout. I would rather lose with these guys than overpay for some has been or one year wonder.

  18. PK says:

    I think that the Habs should put AG27 at 1C.
    In fact, they should have done this five years ago.

    Leave him there. Good, bad, ugly … just do it.

    Danault is not a 1C.

    _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

    “Une équipe de hockey sur glace de l’île de Mont-Royal va gagner la Coupe de Lord Stanley à 24 reprises dans le 20e siècle et trois fois au cours du 21e siècle.”

    – Nostradamus, 1552

    • CHesterfield says:

      He is less than good at centre. They put him with players that make magic, he makes magic. I think #67 was infuriated to make more D coverage to compensate #27. Crazy right? #67 learnt, #27 hopefully will,. #27 is no good centre. Get RNH no?! Kidding. Johanson is better suited.

    • charmenian says:

      one would think that from a developmental standpoint, they shoulda had him centering 3rd or 4th line 5yrs ago so that he could learn his trade from a young age & not be weighed down by the complexity of the position @ this currently super important time of his playing & earning career…
      i agree with you, but im worried, my concern is that if he doesn’t see the value of playing both ends as an increase of benefit to his team, it’ll never work, there will be angst & habs will potentially lose a great winger cause he couldn’t become a great centerman…

  19. Redzodrum says:

    I think Hudon if he impresses in training camp could be a wildcard,
    and potentially be a difference maker and give us us 3 solid lines.
    Here’s hoping

  20. SmartDog says:

    Alex’s talent is unmistakable. His motivation to succeed is too.

    Work with him. Work, work, work. Teach, teach, teach. Figure out how to get him on board. And stop d*cking around with media statements and bulls*t like that.

    ————————————-
    With Marc Bergevin’s leadership:
    The “C” stands for Cronyism.
    The “H” stands for Hubris.

    • CHesterfield says:

      It is a problem. AG #27 is a cat. dogs and cats. My night mare the ‘fatso donut eater’ is no more and head coaches the CH for $5m/yr. He better figure out or, er, we are 2008 again. Respectfully, am glad this set and members have no access to the button. CH button

  21. Captain Koivu says:

    PACIORETTY – DANAULT – GALLAGHER
    DROUIN – GALCHENYUK – LEHKONEN
    BYRON – PLEKANEC – HEMSKY
    HUDON – SHAW – MCCARRON

    ALZNER-WEBER
    BENN-PETRY
    SCHLEMKO-DAVIDSON

    PRICE

    • MustardTiger1337 says:

      Can they really start the season with Dan oh playing #1C?

    • Drouin and Galchenyuk together is a recipe for disaster.

      Danault is a third line center.

      My god the Als suck 😆

      @sholi2000
      Sholi2000.com
      Hockey Is Life, Me and My Boy
      Shane Oliver
      They are not more than Carey Price…..Yet

    • vegas says:

      i like the forward lines, but the defensive parings are dreadful
      not many guys that can move the puck, Davidson was crap on the right side last year, Benn did fine as a number 6 on the right side. Alzener Weber pairing is scary, the puck wont come out of the zone much unless the forwards come all the way back. Maybe Lernout gets a shot, and who knows what Jerabek can give us. Still don’t like the Beaulieu trade, he’d be our 3rd best DMan

  22. ProHabs says:

    He will be traded by months end

  23. Rockhabsfan says:

    Lt the kid play centre. So what if he is 45% on faceoffs – the best are 55%.

  24. CharlieHodgeFan says:

    I see him as first pairing D.

  25. Play him at center with Max, and let’s see if he repeats his start…..but this time keep him there. (Lehkonen on the right)

    Pleks with Drouin and Gallagher.

    Can’t wait!

    Carey Price is gonna destroy the NHL this season. 😎

    @sholi2000
    Sholi2000.com
    Hockey Is Life, Me and My Boy
    Shane Oliver
    They are not more than Carey Price…..Yet

  26. AZ_Hab_Fan says:

    Yeah! First….


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