MONTREAL — Alex Galchenyuk said he was disappointed he wasn’t named to the U.S. Olympic hockey team for the Games next month in Sochi.
At the same time, he said he would have been surprised if he made the team.
“It wasn’t hard to swallow in the first place,” Galchenyuk said when asked if the decision was easier to take because the list of players on the outside included veterans like Bobby Ryan, Jason Pominville and Jack Johnson. “I’m only 19 years old and I’ll get other chances. Obviously, I would have liked to go. I’m disappointed, but it’s not like I’m killing myself over this.”
Galchenyuk said he has no control over the selections and added: “Whatever happens, I just have to keep working to help my team.”
Galchenyuk is enjoying a successful sophomore season with the Canadiens. He has 10 goals and 13 assists as the Canadiens return to the Bell Centre Saturday night to play the Ottawa Senators (7 p.m., CBC, RDS, TSN Radio 690).
Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma was one of Galchenyuk’s biggest supporters during the selection process, but the teenager’s lack of experience counted against him. While he has family roots in the former Soviet Union and lived in Russia as a youngster, Galchenyuk’s allegiance is to the U.S. He was born in Milwaukee, where his father was playing pro hockey, and at this time last year was helping the U.S. win gold at the world junior championship. He also represented the U.S at the world championship and scored twice in a shootout as the U.S. beat Finland for the bronze medal.
Galchenyuk took the Sochi rejection more gracefully than Ryan, who lashed out at the public nature of the process. Scott Burnside of ESPN and Kevin Allen of USA Today were given access to the Olympic selection committee’s meetings and Burnside’s report on espn.com contained several unflattering references to the Ottawa Senators forward.
Ryan expressed his displeasure with USA Hockey and Brian Burke, who selected Ryan second overall for the Anaheim Ducks at the 2005 NHL draft.
“It was kinda gutless,” Ryan told reporters after the Senators’ morning skate Thursday. “I almost feel degraded when it comes out like that. It is what it is — that’s their decision and that’s how they feel about me.”
Burke, who is the director of player personnel for Team USA, was quoted in the Burnside feature as saying: “He’s (Ryan) a passive guy. He is not intense. That word is not in his vocabulary. It’s never going to be in his vocabulary. He can’t spell intense.”
Burke did praise Ryan’s ability as a game-breaker. He said Brandon Saad and the Canadiens’ Max Pacioretty were both better 60-minute players, but “neither can do what Bobby can do.”
The Burnside feature added that another selection committee member called Ryan a “sleepy” skater and when Team USA general manager David Poile asked his group to raise their hands if they were worried about Ryan, a lot of members did just that.
Ryan said Burke tried to contact him on Wednesday, but Ryan didn’t return the call.
Poile offered a public apology to Ryan during a conference call on Friday.
“I’m trying right now to apologize to Bobby Ryan,” Poile said. “If it was said about me, I would be upset. Denigrating any player is not what anyone signed up for.”
Poile added that when the U.S. management team made its final selections, Ryan was on Burke’s roster.
The Canadiens had a day off Friday after a long flight back from Dallas, where they concluded their six-game holiday road trip with a 6-4 win over the Stars Thursday night. That gave Montreal a 3-2-1 record on the six-game trip.
Alexei Emelin was a healthy scratch for Thursday’s game. Coach Michel Therrien said the defenceman, who missed the first 20 games of the season while recovering from major reconstructive knee surgery, had hit the wall and needed a break.
“With Emmy, we had a good discussion with him this morning,” Therrien said before the Dallas game. “It’s part of our job as coaches to rebuild his confidence.”
After a strong start, Emelin has struggled and is minus-12 in his last 10 games.
“It happens a lot with guys who had long-term injuries,” Therrien said. “He’s a kid we have a lot of confidence in and he’s part of our future. He understands the decision and I think he agrees with it. We know where his game is supposed to be. It’s going to take some time and we accept that.”
Daniel Brière was also a healthy scratch for the second consecutive game, but the Canadiens might need him against Ottawa because Ryan White suffered an upper-body injury in the Dallas game.
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