Something’s rotten in the city of Montreal… at least when it comes to the relationship that exists between the Montreal Canadiens and Brendan Gallagher. In other words, there’s a disconnect between the Canadiens and the player in terms of how current contract negotiations are going.
It was learned on Tuesday that talks had broken off between Gallagher’s agent Gerry Johansen and Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin. Then, when the word leaked that the forward was potentially unhappy with the numbers being thrown his way one year out from free agency, speculation started brewing that there could be a trade in the works. It made a little sense. After all, the Canadiens signed Josh Anderson and Tyler Toffoli to long-term deals as the team’s top-two right wingers. Where exactly did Gallagher fit?
Bergevin spoke to media about the salary cap and while he didn’t directly address the potential issues in the Gallagher negotiations or rumors of a trade that would send him out if the winger was unhappy, Bergevin certainly made a passive-aggressive statement about the salary cap and his players that Gallagher should have heard loud and clear.
Bergevin noted, as per an article on The Athletic:
“At the end of the day we have a (cap on) payroll that needs to be respected; we have an amount that will go to each player. So my responsibility is to manage that payroll to have the best possible team on the ice. But at the end of the day the players also need to understand that it’s not an indefinite amount of money; it’s a fixed amount. So we have to be prudent and for the players, let’s be honest if they want to be in Montreal, they might have to make some sacrifices also for us to have a good team.”
Essentially, what Bergevin is saying is, the team has made it clear they’ve got “x” amount of dollars to spend. If Gallagher wants to be a part of this team moving forward, he’s going to need to come to terms with accepting that this dollar figure isn’t going to increase.
Is This Bergevin Calling Out Gallagher’s Bluff?
As Arpon Basu of The Athletic points out, Gallagher might have painted himself into a bit of a corner here. It wasn’t long ago that the forward said he was less concerned about money and more concerned about the right fit and winning. At that time, he noted:
“I’m not going to sit here and lie and say the money’s not going to be important to me. But it’ll be enough money regardless of what it is. I’ll be able to live a happy life post-hockey, that’s not going to be a worry.”
Gallagher went on to say, “I want to enjoy my time, I want to enjoy my experience and I want to have an opportunity to be a winner.”
At first glance and as suggested by Basu, it sounds like Bergevin is indirectly calling Gallagher out. Knowing that Gallagher made those comments, he’s going to look selfish if he turns down a reasonable offer after the team checked off every box on their to-do list this offseason. It’s clear the Canadiens are a better team today than they were just a week ago. The question might be, how can Gallagher not see that?
The Habs have $22.1 million in cap space for next off-season. That means, unless other moves take place, they’ll need to get Gallagher and other UFA’s like Danault, Tatar, Armia, and Weal all signed. Not to mention, they’ll have to save money for RFAs: Kotkaniemi, Lehkonen, Mete, Poehling, Fleury, and Juulsen.
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