Habs’ Gallagher anxious for new season to start

DAVE STUBBS
MONTREAL GAZETTE

The final siren was still echoing in Tampa Bay’s Amalie Arena on May 12, the handshakes not yet begun, when Brendan Gallagher was thinking about the season to come.

The Canadiens were headed into the off-season that night, eliminated by the Tampa Bay Lightning in a six-game Eastern Conference semifinal.

Gallagher, the just-turned 23-year-old sparkplug forward, was typically battered and bruised, this bulldog on skates having emptied his tank through 82 regular-season games and a dozen more in the playoffs.

In his third NHL season — his second full campaign after his rookie 2012-13 was shortened by lockout — Gallagher enjoyed a career-best total of goals (24), assists (23), points (47), plus/minus (plus-18), most ice time (average 16:35) and fewest penalty minutes (31).

There is no statistic kept for the number of times a player grins in an opponent’s face when he gets up after having been poleaxed to the ice, but surely Gallagher led the league in that category.

“It’s been a good summer. I’m looking forward to getting back,” he said with a laugh during a chat from his off-season home in Vancouver.

Gallagher figures he took a week, maybe 10 days off after the Canadiens’ elimination. He hung around Montreal briefly “because you want to stick around and spend time with your teammates.

“But once everyone goes home, you realize you’re kinda bored and you might as well get back in the gym and start preparing. I’m itching to get back to Montreal and start training camp, and do it all over again.”

Gallagher’s summer included a trip to San Diego with teammates Nate Beaulieu and Dustin Tokarski, then a swing down to Seattle to see the Toronto Blue Jays in action against the Mariners.

It also included watching Canadiens goaltender Carey Price sweep the NHL awards gala, winning the Hart, Vézina and Lindsay trophies while claiming a share of the Jennings.

“I would have been surprised if Carey didn’t sweep,” Gallagher said. “When you look at the season he had and the impact he had on our team and the entire league, he’s very deserving of everything he won.

“It was what we came to expect from him — if we made a mistake, he was there to bail us out,” he added of Price. “That’s what your best players do. You rely on them to be your best players every single night in this league and Carey consistently certainly was for us.”

Apart from a couple of short trips, Gallagher has spent summer mostly close to his Vancouver home, trained by his father, Ian, getting back on the ice about three weeks ago and finding some time for golf whenever possible.

“When you first get back on the ice, you go back to basics — you work a lot on your skating and shooting technique,” Gallagher said. “In the next couple of weeks I’ll start ramping up the tempo and picking up my speed so when I get to camp, I’ll be in game shape.”

He clearly is pumped about the season ahead, eager to again make a nuisance of himself in the opposition goalie’s blue paint and feel the sticks of defencemen across his back and the leather palms of their gloves in his face.

“I think we’re really excited for the start of camp,” Gallagher said of himself and his club. “For the most part, our team hasn’t changed much. We’ve added (Alexander) Semin — you know the talent he has and certainly he adds another dynamic that (opponents) are going to have to be aware of and prepare for.

“But for the most part, our team is almost the same. We really like our group. Each year we’ve been learning and learning, getting better for it. We feel we’re ready to take that next step.

“You can talk about it all you want but it’s a matter of learning from those mistakes and experiences that we’ve had and bettering it,” he said.

“We’re all really excited to get back and start it off again, to get off on the right foot at training camp, play the same way we did the past few seasons and improve at the end to make sure the season doesn’t end as early as it has.”

(Photo by John Mahoney/Montreal Gazette)

• Gallagher organizes Vancouver charity baseball game, by Dave Stubbs

• One step at a time for Andrighetto, canadiens.com

• Summer fun with Habs, canadiens.com

377 Comments

  1. Ron says:

    New thread is up and its about all you wanted to know about Semin

  2. UKRAINIANhab says:

    DD and Plekanec should not be grouped together as if they are both our problem… 1 is, 1 isn’t.


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