The Montreal Canadiens forward has been a bright spot for the team this season
While flipping between two hockey games on a Tuesday night, I came across a stoppage in play during a Habs game. The play had stopped because Habs forward Brendan Gallagher dislodged the opponents’ net and he was now inside the net, scrambling to get up.
I mean, where else would he be? He has a league-wide reputation for bugging goalies and getting under their skin. There’s even a popular t-shirt for sale at hockey stores that has a picture of a goal crease on it and it says “Gally’s office.”
Gallagher is the type of player you love to have on your team and hate to play against. Although he occasionally crosses the line of goaltender interference, he usually plays a game that irritates other goaltenders in a legal fashion. He brings them out of their game and often deflects his teammates’ shots just by being in front of the net.
It’s no surprise that he was given an “A” at the start of the season, as he plays every game with a passion, intensity and a level of skill seen in so few players in today’s NHL. He brings energy to his team simply by playing his game.
With Gallagher in the lineup this year, the team was virtually unstoppable as they posted a record of 17-4-2.
When Gallagher blocked a slapshot in November and needed surgery on two of his fingers, the team lost the player who arguably contributes to most of their success.
Without Gallagher, the Habs went 5-11-1.
In his first game back from injury, on Jan. 1 against the Bruins, he had a goal and an assist in the team’s 5-1 victory.
Gallagher spoke of his success as a hockey player and why his presence lifts the team in a post-winter classic interview which was later uploaded to the Canadiens website. “We all had so much fun,” he said with a massive smile on his face.
After all, that’s what makes Gallagher such a good hockey player. He always has a smile on his face.
The Habs score? Gallagher’s smiling. Gallagher is getting shoved behind the net? He’s smiling. The other team is chirping him with some not-so-nice words? That’s when his smile is the biggest. Nothing bothers him. He would rather hurt the other team with goals than with words, and that’s what sets him apart from other players.
His passion for the game and the fun he has playing it is infectious. When he’s in the lineup, the team tends to play better. They have more energy, and overall, they play better hockey.
That’s because when Gallagher smiles on the ice, he’s not smiling alone. His teammates, his coach and his fans all smile with him. They thrive off of the fun that he has, and they start having more fun themselves. It’s important for professional athletes to be able to take a step back from the game and recognize that, yes, although it is their career and they need to do well, they can have fun doing it, too. Gallagher does that, and that’s why players like him are so important to a hockey team.