Montreal Canadiens right wing Brendan Gallagher, #73, scored his 1st career goal against New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur during 1st period NHL action at the Bell Centre in Montreal, on Sunday, January 27, 2013.
Photograph by: Dave Sidaway, PNG
As Brendan Gallagher learns about playing in the NHL for the Montreal Canadiens, he is going to teach fans and media something as well.
First lesson: his nickname is Gally. The other exciting Habs rookie, Alex Galchenyuk, is also Gally but that is going to change if Brendan gets his way. At 20, he has two years on his young linemate and figures that's worth something. So he's pushing for Galchenyuk to be called Chuckie while he, of course, retains Gally.
“I've been trying to go with that in the media and I think they may be catching on,” the former Vancouver Giants captain chuckled Monday. “So I might be able to keep it.”
Right now, Gallagher doesn't really care what he is called. He is in the NHL, he has an NHL goal and he's doing just fine for a player who was 5-3 and 135 pounds in 2007 when the Giants drafted him 195th overall into the Western Hockey League.
Gallagher hasn't turned into a monster physically, he only plays like it. It took him just one game to earn his first NHL point and three games to score a goal. Interestingly, his first victim was New Jersey Devils icon Martin Brodeur and the two share a birthday, May 6. Gallagher was born in 1992 and Brodeur in '72.
“It's been a good 24 hours,” Gallagher said in a phone interview from Montreal. “It was pretty cool to score on him for my first one. I was too excited to grab the puck so someone else grabbed it for me, I think it was Brandon Prust. The Canadiens are putting it on a plaque with the date and who it was scored on and all that kind of stuff. I am looking forward to getting that plaque.”
Gallagher, now 5-9 and 182, was born in Edmonton and moved to Tsawwassen at age 12 when dad Ian was hired to be the Giants strength and conditioning coach. A three-time 40-goal scorer in the WHL, Brendan was taken by the Habs in the fifth round of the 2010 NHL entry draft.
He has defied the odds to make it at his size and in his first professional season, especially considering his draft position. Galchenyuk, by contrast, was the third overall pick last June and stands 6-1.
“I always believed I could make it this year and that's what I was working towards all summer,” Gallagher said. “At the same time, I knew it would be tough. It's the NHL and these are the best players in the world. When I didn't dress for the home opener, I didn't sulk or pout. I just thought you wait for your opportunity and, once you get it, take advantage of it. So far, it's been pretty good but I need to continue doing the things that got me here.”
The ovation he received Sunday night when he beat Brodeur, on a one-timer set up by “Chuckie” no less, was one he won't soon forget.
“I remember when Galchenyuk scored his first goal, the fans gave him, like, a standing ovation and the place went nuts,” Gallagher said. “They did the same thing for me. It's kind of special to do it in Montreal in front of those fans who treat us so well and are so passionate. They gave me a pretty good reception. It was kind of cool to sit back and watch it before I had to re-focus for the next shift.”
Back home in Tsawwassen, Brendan's parents, two sisters and brother were watching the game on TV and didn't need an announcer to tell them who netted the Habs' goal at 13:35 of the first period.
“I'm pretty good with controlled emotion but his brother and sisters were pretty happy,” Ian Gallagher replied when asked if all family members flew out of their chairs.
Dad and son exchanged texts following the game but didn't chat until Monday afternoon. Chances are it was a fairly upbeat conversation.
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