If this is how you feel about Alex Galchenyuk, trade him. If even when he is putting up points, skating well, dangling well, and stickhandling excitedly while still striding, you still feel you have little use for him, then move on from him. If when he’s at his best you see the worst, then move on from him. You’re wasting one of your best offensive assets, so go get someone you won’t waste.
It may seem like simple analysis but there are two nets. And though it may seem preposterous to this organization, here’s a news flash for you… you have to win the game at both nets to actually win the game.
Against the Calgary Flames, the Habs played the third period with the desire to not allow a goal, with almost no thought that they might need another one. They got what they planned for. They set up shop to defend for 20 minutes and it failed as it naturally will. They had no use whatsoever for Alex Galchenyuk.
At the wing position, Galchenyuk wins you the game at one net and doesn’t lose you the game at the other net but the Montreal Canadiens are under the impression he is a massive liability at wing who can not be trusted at all.
They drafted this player as a center and the truth is he simply doesn’t think the game well enough to play center. The counter argument is he had a good run to start last season at center but the sample size of success is simply not big enough to seriously suggest that one should ignore the countless gaffes not picking up his man defensively or even knowing what his assignment is. Very few intelligent hockey people believe Galchenyuk can play this center position effectively.
Fine. Let’s move on from that and get to the heart of the more serious matter.
Now he’s on the wing. Lo and behold, the script is playing out one more time with one more coach, in the exact same manner.
GM Marc Bergevin hires a new man and he does the same things as the former man.
Claude Julien tells his players regularly to not play on their heels, yet the defensive players receive double shifts and the offensive ones barely see the ice. How are the players supposed to play aggressively? The posture itself is designed to play in your own end and allow a goal. They’re not even trying to score for the final 20 minutes. This isn’t 2013. In 2017-2018 with goals up almost a full one per game from 5.2 to 6.1, you don’t nurse a lead for 20 minutes; you fail to nurse a lead for 20 minutes.
Alex Galchenyuk got one minute of ice time in the third period. One!!! He did not see the ice in overtime. Neither did Paul Byron who with his speed should be the first player on the ice in overtime and should be the most used in overtime of all players. That is if the object is to score goals and win the game. The Habs brass tries to not lose the game and in so doing with the negative posture, does exactly that.
Safe is death.
So now we find Alex Galchenyuk on the wing and again the organization feels he is such a liability that he barely plays. Let’s be clear about how good or bad Galchenyuk is on the wing defensively and you decide. He’s got one job to do essentially. He has to make sure that his point man doesn’t get away from him or take clear shots. He has to cover the point. He has to make sure the point man doesn’t go back door on him on a rush. Basically, this one single solitary assignment can be covered off by a chimpanzee. It’s not hard. It’s, in fact, about as easy as can be and that’s why Marc Bergevin said at the recent golf tournament “Alex is a winger. I don’t need to see him another 10 times at center to tell you Alex is not a center”. Alex is a winger. Most don’t argue this.
Somehow, though it didn’t seem possible, it is getting even messier. The Habs Borg now doesn’t think he can play wing either.
The Borg needs to think as individuals. There’s no way all of these hockey men can get together around a cherry wood table and think Galchenyuk in his present form is worth only nine minutes to a hockey team struggling for goals. This can’t be. Nine minutes?
He’s playing strong hockey. He shows limited liability on defence given a limited role to handle. At the other end, he’s playing his best hockey since before the knee injury at the beginning of last season.
The comment made by Claude Julien after the game was he needs to puck battle better. Certainly he does, but that is not his skill set. Does Byron Froese get called out because he needs to shoot harder or skate better? No. Obviously because that is not his skill set. Why does a limited hockey player with limited offensive skills not get punished for that in the Habs Borg? So it’s 17 minutes for the players who can not get you a goal and 9 minutes for a player who can?
Galchenyuk’s skill set is the rare one. His skill set brings fans to their feet. His skill set scores goals and sets up goals. He thrives on the power play. He thrives at the offensive goal. This net is half of the game.
This brings us to our uncomfortable conclusion… If you are only going to like Galchenyuk only if he becomes Byron Froese, then move on from him already. If you can’t appreciate his offensive acumen, show no pleasure in the game he brings, then move on from him. If he is a liability so woeful in his defensive zone that you can’t even use him on your team in a one-goal game, then move on from him.
You hate him at center. Okay. You now hate him on the wing? There’s nowhere left.
If you’re Bergevin and you see Galchenyuk as a 20 goal scorer that you hate, then trade him for a 20 goal scorer that you love. At least then you have a player that you’ll use.
Move on from him Bergevin, or move on yourself, or hire someone into the Habs Borg who can see the value of an Alex Galchenyuk.
Because at the end of the day and at the end of a game of hockey… there are two nets.