- Emily Kaplan is ESPN’s national NHL reporter.
Alex Galchenyuk is entering the NHL and NHLPA’s player assistance program after being arrested last week, sources told ESPN, and has apologized to police for his “deeply disrespectful and despicable behavior.”
Galchenyuk was arrested July 9 in Scottsdale, Arizona, for a hit and run incident that resulted in the Arizona Coyotes terminating his contract just 13 days after signing the 29-year-old as a free agent.
According to the police report, Galchenyuk made violent threats to officers after apparently crashing a car into a sign. The report said Galchenyuk used racial slurs toward an officer-in-training several times and cited his connections in Russia while not cooperating.
“One phone call and you’re all dead, your whole family, your blood line is dead,” Galchenyuk told officers, according to the report.
Galchenyuk reached out to four Scottsdale police officers via a letter sent through a prosecutor, which was obtained by ESPN, to apologize, saying he knows he has “a long road ahead of me.”
Sources told ESPN that Galchenyuk could enter the player assistance program as early as Tuesday. NHLPA executive director Marty Walsh told ESPN that the players association is still contemplating whether it will file a grievance on behalf of Galchenyuk regarding his contract termination.
Galchenyuk was booked on misdemeanor charges and released on his own recognizance. At the time of the arrest, he was with his father, Alexander Galchenyuk Sr., a former professional hockey player who runs his son’s offseason training. They were celebrating Galchenyuk’s new opportunity with the Coyotes that day.
In his letter to the Scottsdale Police Department officers, Galchenyuk said they “did not deserve that outburst” and he was “sorry for the pain that it had caused.”
“My actions after drinking alcohol were not representative of who I am, but I must take responsibility for them and I hope to one day be able to show you that I am a better person than who you sadly encountered last week,” Galchenyuk wrote. “What all of you do, putting your lives on the line to protect and serve others, is nothing short of selfless and heroic. I appreciate and respect each of you and I want you to know I will work on myself every day with the goal of one day being able to make amends and to try to earn your forgiveness.”
Galchenyuk also sent a separate letter to the Coyotes organization and its fans, calling his behavior “deeply offensive, uncalled for, horrendous, embarrassing, disrespectful and just plain awful.”
“I am beyond embarrassed and disappointed with myself and I feel awful for everyone I have let down,” Galchenyuk wrote. “My family was counting on me to be better, the Coyotes and the amazing Coyotes fans deserve better and the brave police officers who risk their lives to keep us safe deserve better.”
It has been a challenging year for Galchenyuk, who was the third overall pick in the 2012 draft by the Montreal Canadiens but has since become a journeyman.
After being selected to represent Team USA at the 2022 IIHF Men’s World Championship in Finland, Galchenyuk was given bad advice that his then-fiancée (now-wife), a Canadian citizen, could travel with him despite the fact that she had overstayed her American visa, according to sources. When the couple arrived back in the United States, she was deported back to Canada.
According to sources close to Galchenyuk, he was devastated and felt personally responsible. The couple has not been able to live together for over a year, and Galchenyuk was hopeful that his new contract with the Coyotes would allow for the couple to begin planning their life together in the U.S.
Galchenyuk was born in the U.S. but spent some of his childhood in Russia, where his father played professionally.
Galchenyuk had signed a one-year, two-way deal with the Coyote worth $775,000 on July 1, the opening day of unrestricted free agency. It would be his third stint with the organization, having played for Arizona in 2018-19 (72 games) and 2021-22 (60 games). Since his six-year stint with the Canadiens, Galchenyuk has bounced around the NHL. Since 2018, he has played for the Pittsburgh Penguins, Minnesota Wild, Ottawa Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs and Colorado Avalanche along with the Coyotes.
ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski contributed to this report.
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