BROSSARD, Que. — Montreal Canadiens forward Alex Galchenyuk addressed the media Wednesday in the aftermath of a dispute allegedly incited by his 27-year-old girlfriend, Chanel Leszcynski, who was arrested at the player’s residence Sunday morning.
"First I’m going to say this: I feel bad for the incident because it was made public and I feel bad for the teammates, for the organization and for the fans," said Galchenyuk. "I’m a young player and it’s a lesson in life, but at the same time it’s an incident that is in my personal life and I’m not going to comment on any details or what me and [Canadiens general manager] Marc [Bergevin] talked [about] in the meeting."
Galchenyuk met with Bergevin Tuesday so the player could give his version of the events that transpired Sunday morning, according to Canadiens head coach Michel Therrien.
Canadiens forward Devante Smith-Pelly, who was present at the time of Leszcynski’s arrest, also had a separate meeting with Bergevin Tuesday.
Both players confirmed that their respective meetings with Bergevin lasted roughly 10 minutes.
Therrien confirmed that Galchenyuk would be in the lineup for Montreal’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks (28-13-4) at the Bell Centre Thursday and added that the potential for Smith-Pelly to be scratched would strictly be related to his performance of late.
Smith-Pelly has zero points and is minus-5 over his last nine games.
Therrien also cautioned there was no link to make between a video that surfaced earlier this season of forward Christian Thomas and defenceman Nathan Beaulieu in a nightclub following a 3-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes Dec. 5 and the former’s trade to the Arizona Coyotes (Dec. 15) and the latter’s scratching from the team’s game against the Detroit Red Wings (Dec. 10).
"I wish from all our players that at night, during the evening, that they eat their chocolate cookies and they drink their glass of milk [laughing]," said Therrien. "I wish. But that’s not a reality."
As for the attention players garner away from the rink, Therrien said his young players face a particular challenge in adjusting their behavior to deal with the advent of social media and the reality that things will be made public.
"The most important thing is that they learn from that," said Therrien. "Yes, we want them to be role models, we want them to be perfect, we want them to perform.
"At the end of the day we can’t forget they’re kids and at times all kids make some mistakes."
Therrien added, "we certainly do give them advice. We surround those kids as much as we can, but we can’t grab their hand 24 hours a day."
Both Galchenyuk and Smith-Pelly admitted several times over on Wednesday that they had a better understanding of how to conduct themselves away from the rink after Sunday’s experience.
"The most important thing is trying to stay out of distractions for the team because in a place like this, in a market like Montreal, it can be tough," said Galchenyuk. "That’s the lesson."
All parties, Galchenyuk, Smith-Pelly, the Canadiens and Therrien are now turning their attention towards Thursday’s game with Chicago.
"We play the Stanley Cup champions," said Therrien. "It’s a good challenge for us; that’s the way I see it."
While the Canadiens (23-17-3) are idle Wednesday, a win for the Boston Bruins (21-15-5) over Philadephia would knock them down from third place in the Atlantic Division to the first wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference.
"We’re part of a mix that is fighting to make the playoffs," said Therrien. "I remember earlier in the season when we were 6-0, 7-0 and we we’re saying our main goal is to make the playoffs because you don’t know what’s going to happen. You could face injuries.
"Because of injuries you’re going to face adversity and, of course, we did face a lot of adversity regarding our guys that have been injured. So we’ll take one game at a time."
Looking beyond the next game, the challenge for the Canadiens only gets greater with back-to-back games this coming Saturday and Sunday against St. Louis (25-14-7) and Chicago respectively. Montreal will then host Boston Tuesday, Jan. 20.