The following is the first of an offseason series called Love Thy Enemy, where we talk about our favourite players on other teams. Let us be.
What’s up, Maple Leafs Nation! It’s your resident Brendan Gallagher fan (I’ve got his 2016 Winter Classic sweater, that’s right). And I’m here to tell you why he’s great and you should love him, even though he plays for Montreal (ew).
You’re probably wondering why you should like Brendan Gallagher over all of the other Canadiens players… the reason, essentially, is because he is my favorite, so he should also be yours! (Other reasons include: they traded PK Subban and Alex Galchenyuk, Max Pacioretty is definitely on his way out, and you already know you should love Carey Price.)
For those who don’t keep up much with players outside Toronto (makes sense, ours are the ones most worth knowing), here’s a quick guide to Brendan Gallagher:
Height: 5’9” (sure, sweetie)
Weight: 181 lbs
Hometown: Edmonton, AB, CAN
Drafted: 2010, Round 5, #147 (Montreal)
Cap hit: $3.75m (what a deal, honestly)
The More You Know…
Gallagher spent four years with the Vancouver Giants (WHL), and served as captain in his final junior season, after which he played with the Hamilton Bulldogs (AHL) during the 2012 lockout before joining the big club to finish out 2013. He injured the same hand twice in two seasons (15-16 and 16-17), but came up huge for the Habs in 2017-18, leading the team in scoring and blowing his past season-highs out of the water.
Even in 2016-17, despite missing almost 20 games due to injury, Gallagher led the team in CF% and improved possession numbers for the rest of his teammates whenever they were on the ice together. He only put up 29 points that season, but those “underlying numbers” showed up in a big way for his 31 goals and 23 assists in 2017-18.
He’s worn an “A” for the Habs since the 2015-16 season (when Pacioretty was promoted to captain but the team decided to stick with four alternates), and many believe he may be the next “C” in Montreal, after Pacioretty’s seemingly inevitable departure. I can’t say I disagree, but also fan perception of team captaincy is a little distorted, so they ought to just pick whoever is the best fit internally! (It’s probably Brendan Gallagher.)
With three years left on one of those enviable team-friendly deals that’s tougher to come by in Toronto, Gallagher has made himself invaluable in Montreal as one of their few players who seems to win the hearts of not only fans, but also coaches and management (I won’t speak to team dynamics, but maybe even those guys, too).
Now that you know some of the facts and figures, here are a few reasons why you should love Brendan Gallagher (even while you hate him–I get it):
He’s one of those hard-working players that coaches and old school guys love… but boy does he also get the job done. Gallagher spends most of his on-ice time bugging the crap out of the opposing team’s goalie (and Zdeno Chara–what’s not to love?).
At the beginning of his time in Montreal, he lived with Josh Gorges…and Josh Gorges’ amazing dog, Gus.
Most people assumed he would never make it at the NHL level due to his size (seriously, 5’9″ is a stretch), and it seems like Gallagher is the type who loves proving the haters wrong year after year. Drafted in the fifth round? Skip ahead a few years and he’s leading his NHL team in scoring (even for the 2017-18 Habs, 31 goals is nothing to sneeze at).
And the best part? Gallagher only has 11 points in 24 career games against the Leafs, so we don’t have nearly as much reason to hate him as other teams might! And besides, after the home opener, the Leafs won’t face the Habs again until February, and it’s still looking pretty unlikely Montreal will compete for a playoff spot, so what’s the harm in rooting for him…just a little?