Well, those Alex Galchenyuk for Jonathan Drouin trade rumors don’t seem nearly as far-fetched now…
Granted, that’s all they are: rumors. It’s nevertheless safe to say the Montreal Canadiens are at least closer to being willing to trade their soon-to-be 22-year-old center now than just a few short days ago.
That’s taking into consideration how Galchenyuk and his girlfriend found themselves in headlines earlier this week for all the wrong reasons… and how the Habs traded away Zack Kassian after he returned from rehab arguably for fifty cents on the dollar for then-American Hockey League goalie Ben Scrivens.
It’s a relatively safe assumption that the Canadiens had little intention of ever playing Kassian after he embarrassed the Habs last autumn, getting into an early-morning accident that prompted (essentially forced) his stint in the league’s substance abuse and behavioral health program.
Galchenyuk vs. Kassian
So, what makes this Galchenyuk (and Devante Smith-Pelly) situation any different? Not all that much, once one gets to the heart of the matter, how, in each case, a supposedly professional hockey player found himself in a public-relations nightmare that they, themselves, were in part responsible for creating (directly or indirectly).
Yes, Galchenyuk was the alleged victim of domestic abuse and, in that sense, he’s not to blame. However, specifics aside as to what caused his girlfriend to lose it and prompt the police to be called to his residence, there was a reason Smith-Pelly and friends were there early on a Sunday.
Just like Kassian reportedly wasn’t behind the wheel of the car, it’s not as if Galchenyuk is completely blameless in all this, was kidnapped and placed in unfortunate circumstances against his will. Fill in the blanks or don’t, but there’s a reason the two players had a meeting with general manager Marc Bergevin on Tuesday and Galchenyuk vocalized regret over the incident on Wednesday.
Justifiably or not, it looks bad, in other words.
A Habs History of Hypocrisy
It could very well turn out that way too, on the off chance the Canadiens—a team that infamously traded Guy Carbonneau after he gave the finger to a photographer—do in fact trade Galchenyuk now.
The team is on record as saying the timing of that trade was a coincidence. However, that word “coincidence” was also used by head coach Michel Therrien when asked of a video that surfaced showing defenseman Nathan Beaulieu and former Habs forward Christian Thomas partying over-exuberantly in early December. Thomas was traded soon thereafter to the Arizona Coyotes.
Seriously, how long before a trend stops becoming just a series of coincidences? Or, more to the point, how long before this organization stops shooting itself in the foot? Trading away a power forward with great hands, who plays the wing at which the Habs are the weakest, who, for all intents and purposes, is good enough to fill in for Connor McDavid in Edmonton? Was that really necessary?
On the plus side, the notion that Galchenyuk will be traded may be slightly more realistic than a week ago, but it’s still inherently unlikely. Look to the Thomas trade for proof, as Beaulieu—a still-young, former first-round pick who oozes potential and is starting to come into his own—is still here.
So, in that regard, no one can accuse the Habs of sheer idiocy. Of hypocrisy and peddling double standards, though? There might be more of a case for each of those. And that’s why picking and choosing who belongs here and who doesn’t is a risky game. You’re playing favorites, and that’s not fair to anyone in the dressing room, with that too having the potential to backfire in the face of Canadiens management.
That is, if it’s in fact a justifiable accusation.
Recent history at least hints at more valuable Habs players being given more slack than others. Should anyone be surprised though? The same story goes back to the dawn of professional sports, whether it’s potentially Beaulieu in December or Michael Jordan and his supposedly sixth sense at drawing fouls decades ago.
Putting It in Perspective
Here’s another shocker for you: Kassian, Beaulieu, Thomas, Galchenyuk and Smith-Pelly are all in their mid-twenties. Players at that age getting into trouble, especially with five days in between games, is practically understandable—if not to be expected.
That definitely does not make it all right. It just makes it not as big of a deal as all media outlets are making it out to be. Therrien said it best: “I wish all my players would eat their chocolate cookies and drink a glass of milk… but that’s not reality.”
While one might have to just cause to question Therrien’s fitness regime and nutritional intake (chocolate cookies… what?), he does seem to have a good handle on the situation. Hopefully the Habs as a whole do as well.
Maybe Kassian was only traded after he had been warned and then got into his accident. Maybe this is Galchenyuk’s first time in “trouble,” and the next time will be different, but, for now, Galchenyuk doesn’t need to worry. Neither do the Canadiens about Galchenyuk.
Smith-Pelly on the other hand…
After 10 years of writing hockey, Ryan decided it was as good a time as any to actually join The Hockey Writers for the 2014-15 season. Having appeared as a guest on such programs as CBC Radio One’s Daybreak, Ryan has written for such publications as the Montreal Gazette and Bleacher Report and worked for the NHL itself and his hometown Montreal Canadiens. He currently covers the Habs for THW as a columnist.