Colorado Avalanche goalie Pavel Francouz (39) makes the save on Minnesota Wild's Alex Galchenyuk (27) during third period NHL exhibition game action in Edmonton, on Wednesday July 29, 2020. Galchenyuk says his new team is getting a motivated player with something to prove. The forward signed a one-year, US$1.05-million contract with the Ottawa Senators in free agency earlier this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Alex Galchenyuk eager for fresh start with Senators: ‘I have a lot to prove’

Alex Galchenyuk eager for fresh start with Senators: ‘I have a lot to prove’

Alex Galchenyuk has no interest in looking back. And it’s easy to understand why.

After getting traded three times in 20 months, the third overall pick at the 2012 NHL draft signed a one-year, US$1.05-million contract with the Ottawa Senators — his fifth team since June 2018 — as an unrestricted free agent earlier this week.

“I have a lot to prove — to myself, to a lot of people,” Galchenyuk said on a video conference call with reporters Friday. “I’m definitely hungrier than ever.”

The 26-year-old forward’s odyssey through the league began when the Montreal Canadiens shipped him to the Arizona Coyotes for Max Domi following the 2017-18 season. Galchenyuk, who put up career highs with 30 goals and 56 points in 2015-16, had decent numbers in the desert, but was subsequently dealt to the Pittsburgh Penguins just 379 days later in the Phil Kessel swap.

And he would last just 45 games there before getting flipped to the Minnesota Wild in February as part of the Jason Zucker exchange.

“Really tough year,” said Galchenyuk, who finished with a combined eight goals and 24 points in 59 games, and was held off the scoresheet in four post-season outings. “Sometimes you need a year like this to centre yourself and to love yourself, and to really understand what you want to become and how you want to play.

“It was a big moment for me to realize that.”

He added there’s no point in picking apart what worked and what didn’t during his previous stops. It’s about what comes next.

“My head is not back there anymore,” Galchenyuk said. “My focus is on making it right with Ottawa.”

In the nation’s capital with the rebuilding Senators, he sees an opportunity for himself and the team.

“I had a certain level of success early in my career and then things started going the other way,” Galchenyuk said. “I want to not just get back to the game that I had, I want to elevate that. I know I have that.”

Born in Milwaukee to Belarusian parents when his father was playing hockey in the U.S., he’s been training in the Phoenix area since the Wild were eliminated in the qualifying round of the NHL’s return to play this summer.

“I’m working towards the truth,” said Galchenyuk, who pointed to foot speed and consistency as areas he’s looking to improve. “I know what kind of player I am, I know what kind of player I want to be.”

A veteran of 549 regular-season games and 32 post-season contests heading into his ninth NHL campaign, he’s the latest addition to a stable of new, veteran faces in the nation’s capital that includes goalie Matt Murray, sniper Evengii Dadonov, defencemen Erik Gudbranson and Josh Brown, and grinding forward Austin Watson.

There’s also youngsters and franchise cornerstones like blue-liner Thomas Chabot and Brady Tkachuk, as well as 2020 No. 3 overall pick Tim Stuetzle.

“I’ve been places, I’ve had experience in big games,” Galchenyuk, who has 135 goals and 320 points in his career, said of serving as a mentor. “I realize how important the older guys are for the team and the leadership, especially coming from Pittsburgh and seeing how things are done there.

“It was inspiring, encouraging and something I want to bring to the table.”

Like a lot of the NHL’s middle class, Galchenyuk took a significant pay cut this fall because of the COVID-19 pandemic after earning nearly $5 million each of the last three seasons, but money wasn’t the primary concern as he aims to resurrect his career.

“You’re skating, you’re training … you just want to know what colours you’re going to wear,” Galchenyuk said. “That was the main thing — to get it done and get some weight off the shoulders.

“It’s back to business now.”

There will be some familiar faces to greet him in Ottawa whenever training camp begins ahead of the 2020-21 campaign. Galchenyuk knows some of the Russians on the roster, and played alongside Murray and Gudbranson with the Penguins.

“It’s a small world,” he said. “That’s the best thing about the game — meeting new people, winning together, going through things and building relationships for the rest of your life.

“I’m really excited for this opportunity … I can’t wait to be back in Canada.”

And hopefully turn the page on what has been by far the most tumultuous stretch of his professional life.

“I’m so over what happened,” Galchenyuk said. “Whatever was negative, I left it behind me.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 30, 2020.

___

Follow @JClipperton_CP on Twitter

Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press

hockey

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

An Air Canada Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet arrives at Halifax Stanfield International Airport on Friday, April 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Air Canada agrees to $5.9-billion aid package, giving Ottawa equity stake in airline

$1.4 billion earmarked to help reimburse thousands of customers

Innisfail RCMP say Brandon Pitts is missing. (Photo contributed)
Missing central Alberta man

Innisfail RCMP request public’s help

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shakes hands with Yukon Premier Sandy Silver as Liberal on Wednesday February 8, 2017 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Yukon headed for minority government as two main parties in a tie

Liberals came into the election looking to build on their surprise 2016 majority win

Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan takes part in a year-end interview with The Canadian Press at National Defence headquarters in Ottawa on Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020. Sajjan took aim at recent Chinese military expansions into the South China Sea this evening even as he faced questions about the Liberal government’s ties to Beijing. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Sajjan targets Chinese claims in South China Sea, battles Tories over Beijing ties

HMCS Calgary shadowed for at least part of the voyage as it passed near the disputed Spratly Islands

Transport trucks approach the Canada/USA border crossing in Windsor, Ont. on Saturday, March 21, 2020. North American trade is facing a “critical moment” in the ongoing aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, say Canadian business leaders as they embark on a concerted campaign to fortify ties with the United States. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rob Gurdebeke
Canada-U.S. trade faces ‘critical moment’ that demands urgent action, businesses warn

Will fall to Canada to ensure its best interests are represented

FILE-Team Canada’s Meaghan Mikkelson fights for control of the puck with U.S.A.’s Hayley Scamurra during third period of Women’s Rivalry Series hockey action in Vancouver, Wednesday, February 5, 2020. Gina Kingsbury, Hockey Canada’s director of women’s national teams, hopes a Rivalry Series against the United States can happen this winter.THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Michael Dwyer
Canadian women’s hockey team to open selection camp in Nova Scotia

Six goaltenders, 15 defenders and 26 forwards will vie for spots on Canada’s 23-player roster

FILE - Rhian Wilkinson, left, and Melissa Tancredi of Canada’s women’s soccer team attend a news conference in Vancouver, Friday, Jan. 13, 2017 to announce their retirement from the team. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Former Canadian international Rhian Wilkinson now part of England coaching setup

Wilkinson left Canada Soccer in January to join interim England head coach Hege Riise as an assistant

Canadian actor/producer/director Jay Baruchel is photographed at the 5 Drive-In Theatre in Oakville, Ont., ahead of the premier of Baruchel’s movie Random Acts of Violence, Wednesday, July 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston
Jay Baruchel to host Amazon Prime Video’s ‘LOL: Last One Laughing Canada’

Final comedian left standing wins a grand prize for a charity of their choice

Letters
Letter: Leaders like MLA Jason Stephan should work towards greater good

Red Deer South MLA Jason Stephan talks about the devastating social and… Continue reading

Opinion
Opinion: Women, hit hardest by pandemic, key to economic recovery

Events of the past year have laid bare the many disparities and… Continue reading

Children at the Port Angeles Boys & Girls Club practice social distancing throughout the day to minimize the spreading of germs and potentially the coronavirus. Photo courtesy of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula
Opinion: Teach young people these five principles

At all ages, young people may be the subject of mean behaviours… Continue reading

LtE bug
Letter: MLAs need to think about all Albertans

I was surprised to find more than a dozen UCP MLAs were… Continue reading

Most Read