We may never discover what was going through Alex Galchenyuk‘s head when he fired his agent Ian Pulver in the middle of negotiations for a new Canadiens contract but the change in representation probably means discussions will probably drag into the late summer.
On first glance, after a 20 goal and 46 point season this didn’t shape up to be a complicated discussion on the level of a Steven Stamkos or John Tavares. His statistics were hardly on the superstar level and as a restricted free agent Galchenyuk had three NHL options; a two year bridge contract, a long term deal or the rare possibility of an outside offer sheet.
When Galchenyuk negotiated his Canadiens entry level contract in 2012 he was represented by Hall of Famer Igor Larionov. (Larionov also represented 2012 first overall draft pick and Sarnia teammate Nail Yakupov). A year later Larionov merged his agency with Pulver forming the Will Sports Group. It’s not clear that the Galchenyuk divorce includes Larionov but, considering his partnership with Pulver, it’s probable.
As to the direct cause of the rift; eventually it almost always leads to money. Galchenyuk may not like the suggestions he’s hearing from his agent either in contract term or value. It’s also possible he’s been poached by another agent promising a bigger and more advantageous contract than they felt Pulver was capable of coming up with. Whatever the reason, the change has thrown a monkey wrench into Marc Bergevin‘s summer schedule.
UPDATE – Late Monday Larionov told the Gazette’s Pat Hickey that Galchenyuk and his family had been expressing dissatisfaction with the way the Canadiens coaching staff was handling him. “Ian and I were trying to help him to become a good hockey player but, more imporantly to be a good human being. …….I tried to make him understand that he has to be patient. I had to wait when I was a young player; every great player has a time when he’s going to be on the bench, but you have to learn that’s part of the game.”
The last member of the Canadiens to fire his agent was Andrei Markov in 2013. For reasons never made clear he dumped Don Meehan and subsequently represented himself as an unrestricted free agent in negotiations with Bergevin that led to his current three year 17.25 million dollar Canadiens contract.