Late Thursday morning at the Montreal Canadiens annual golf tournament, general manager Marc Bergevin announced that the Canadiens will name a captain for the 2015-16 NHL campaign. He also said that it is time for the 21-year-old Alex Galchenyuk to move to centre.
The Canadiens went without a captain for the 2014-15 season. Bergevin claimed that it was too quick to name a captain after the departure of former captain Brian Gionta and alternate captain Josh Gorges. He said he didn’t want to make a mistake of naming the wrong captain just yet. The Canadiens ran with four alternate captains last season (Andrei Markov, P.K. Subban, Tomas Plekanec, and Max Pacioretty). He now feels that the team is ready to have a full-time captain.
“From what we saw last year from a leadership standpoint, we feel comfortable going forward that this team is ready for a captain,” said Bergevin.
The Canadiens will only name the captain at the end of training camp. There is no indication just yet who the Habs brass will choose to be the team’s captain.
Bergevin also said that he and head coach Michel Therrien feel that Alex Galchenyuk is ready to be a centre in the NHL.
At the beginning of the off-season, Bergevin said he was not sure if Galchenyuk would ever play centre. What changed, is that Therrien and Galchenyuk had a long chat during the summer to discuss his role.
“Centre is a hard position to learn and there’s a lot of responsibility, offensively and defensively,” said Bergevin when asked why Galchenyuk is only being put at centre now.
“We’re at a time in his career when we’ve got to take it to the next level and this is what I shared with Alex,” said Therrien. “He embraced the challenge.”
Galchenyuk is excited for the opportunity but also knows that he needs to still prove himself at centre. Galchenyuk recently signed a two-year, $5.6 million contract with the Canadiens earlier this summer.
“It’s huge, especially for a young player like me to come in knowing your role, knowing your position, and just to be confident in yourself. But at the end of the day, I’m still going to have to prove that I’m good for the job and that I can help the team win.” says Galchenyuk on being given the opportunity at centre.
Galchenyuk has spent the majority of his three years in the NHL at left wing, excluding a few games in his rookie season and last season. In Galchenyuk’s rookie season he put up 27 points in 48 games. In his second season he played 65 games and got 13 goals and 31 points. Last season, Galchenyuk put up his first 20 goal season, where he scored 20 goals and 26 assists.
The move now creates the question if Lars Eller or David Desharnais will be transitioned to the wing.
Main Photo: UNIONDALE, NY – DECEMBER 23: Alex Galchenyuk #27 of the Montreal Canadiens skates against the New York Islanders at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on December 23, 2014 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)