Alex Galchenyuk, once a promising NHL player, has unfortunately fallen prey to what looks to be the destructive grip of addiction. The journey that led him to this point is a tale of lost opportunities, unstable behavior, and a tragic lack of focus.
From his time with the Montreal Canadiens to being traded or signing with six different teams over the last five years, Galchenyuk’s inability to remain centered has had a profound impact on his career and personal life.
The Arizona Coyotes have placed forward Alex Galchenyuk on unconditional waivers for purposes of terminating his contract. The Club will have no further comment at this time.
— Arizona Coyotes PR (@AZCoyotesPR) July 13, 2023
The latest incident has cost him his contract with the Arizona Coyotes. Arizona signed Galchenyuk to a one-year, two-way deal as a free agent on July 1. The contract paid him $775,000 in the NHL and $225,000 in the AHL. He’ll once again become an unrestricted free agent when he clears waivers. But it is unlikely he will find offers from NHL clubs until he can seek help for what is causing this behavior. Was addiction Alex Galchenyuk’s downfall
The Beginning of the Downward Slide: Montreal Canadiens
Initially drafted third overall in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, he showed immense potential as a skilled forward. However, behind the scenes, the pressures of professional hockey and the demands of the spotlight began to take their toll. The Montreal Canadiens’ rigorous schedule and high expectations left Galchenyuk vulnerable to seeking solace in unhealthy coping mechanisms. He relied heavily on his father to act as his skills coach instead of relying on the team’s coaching staff. That led to the then-head coach Michel Therien.
Unstable Behavior and Multiple Trades
Galchenyuk’s instability and inconsistent play may have been a sign that he faced addiction issues. He had difficulty remaining focused and performing consistently on the ice. The instability led to a reputation for lacking reliability. This instability ultimately led to a series of trades or low-cost free-agent signings. Galchenyuk had shown promise during his early years with the Canadiens. His best season came in the 2015-16 season as the then-21-year-old took over a struggling club and became the top-line center, scoring 30 goals and 26 assists. He has never reached that level of play since, becoming a below-average bottom-six role player ever since. That quick and steep decline had likely been due to more than just not listening to his coaches. Throughout his career, Galchenyuk has been traded, or signed as a free agent to six different teams since his time in Montreal. Each new opportunity presented a chance for redemption, but his instability, on and off the ice put a quick end to each chance.
High Risk Behaviour
One of the most alarming aspects of Galchenyuk’s actions culminated in his hit and run incident.
NEWS: Scottsdale Police Department has confirmed to The Athletic that Alex Galchenyuk was arrested on July 9 on a number of charges including private property hit and run, disorderly conduct, failure to obey, resisting arrest, Threatening or Intimidating
— Katie Strang (@KatieJStrang) July 13, 2023
Stang confirmed that Galchenyuk was arrested July 9 on several charges including private property hit and run, disorderly conduct, failure to obey, resisting arrest, and threatening or intimidating. This reckless behavior not only puts his own life at risk but also endangers the lives of innocent individuals on the road. Driving under the influence is an incredibly dangerous action that can have deadly consequences. Thankfully, no innocent people were hurt or worse in this incident. An incident that is a massive cry for help. What about this contract being terminated? They are a union, there will be more to come here.
Spoke with an agent today about Alex Galchenyuk (who doesn't represent him). Given the details @KatieJStrang laid out, will be interesting to see how the NHLPA approaches this contract termination regarding precedent. Don't think we're done with this story.
— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) July 13, 2023
Galchenyuk is in a bad place. Hopefully, he gets the help he needs. It’s become quite clear he’s a threat to himself and the public. Hockey doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Galchenyuk is in a bad place mentally. The hope is that he gets the help he desperately needs. This leads us to the NHLPA’s player assistance program. Will they put that in motion? This does seem like a time this program will be needed. It may not save his NHL career, but it might be able to bring him back to health and allow him to salvage a hockey career. There is a long list of players it has helped, such as Bobby Ryan.
One year ago today, in his first home game since entering the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program three months earlier, Bobby Ryan notched a hat trick in an emotional return to Ottawa #Hockey365 #GoSensGo pic.twitter.com/1TYOfgm4dl
— Mike Commito (@mikecommito) February 27, 2021
It’s become quite clear that he’s become a threat to himself and the public. While hockey is the unifying reason for this being a story, in the end. Hockey doesn’t matter in the big picture. The combination of substance abuse and getting behind the wheel is a recipe for disaster. Impaired judgment, diminished reaction times, and lack of coordination make driving under the influence a significant threat to everyone on the road. It is crucial to raise awareness about the severe repercussions of such actions and emphasize the need for individuals like Galchenyuk to seek help and address their addiction head-on.
I’m not defending Galchenyuk or his actions. But, interestingly, damage to property and resisting arrest have resulted in such a fast decision to terminate this contract. Many other allegations across the league are quickly swept under the rug. This makes it seem as though there is a clause in the contract for this type of action. This also points to this being a known issue with the player. So, why hasn’t he been sent for help in the past before there was a risk to others?
Alex Galchenyuk’s journey has been one of missed opportunities, instability, and tragic consequences. From his time as the Canadiens’ hope for a future star to his fall from grace in this arrest and contract termination, seems as if it were one of those poorly written after-school, made-for-TV specials that were popular in the 1990s. In the end, I hope that Galchenyuk finds what he needs to recover.