MONTREAL - Brendan Gallagher and Nick Suzuki are helping to fuel hospital workers in their ongoing battle against COVID-19.
They've partnered up to purchase dinners from local Italian restaurant, La Medusa, for all 2,000 Montreal General Hospital (MGH) staffers. The meals were first distributed on Tuesday.
Distribution will be staggered over the next couple of days so every MGH employee can grab a dish at some point during their respective shifts.
Gallagher and Suzuki's gesture kickstarted the MGH Foundation's brand new "Together, providing for our teams" campaign, focused primarily on supplying medical teams with healthy and nutritious snacks and meals.
The pair is picking up where Jeff and Julie Petry left off in late March when they opened $2,500 tabs at select Mandy's and Notre-Boeuf-de-Grâce locations on behalf of hospital employees around town.
For Gallagher, recognizing the tireless efforts of Montreal hospital workers was a top priority.
Even though the 27-year-old right-winger is back home in British Columbia, he's been paying extra close attention to the seriousness of the situation in Quebec and wanted to let staffers know their well-being is always on his mind.
"It's just one of those things where there's really no way to say thank you to these hospital workers. Not just the doctors and the nurses, but the staff that's in charge of cleaning. It's the whole crew at the hospital," said Gallagher. "This is just a small way to maybe get that message across and show your appreciation for all the work they're doing for our community right now because it's pretty heroic."
Athletes like Gallagher and Suzuki know a thing or two about the relationship between proper diet and performance, of course, so this was a logical move under the circumstances.
La Medusa will be serving up everything from cod fish with vegetables to pasta in their famous tomato and Bolognese sauces to AAA filet mignon, satisfying every type of palate along the way.
"The last thing they're probably worried about right now is themselves, but obviously nutrition is important," insisted Gallagher. "You want to make sure that they're energized and ready to do the work that they're doing day in, day out for us."
Simply put, the eight-year NHL veteran can't say enough about the incredible service hospital workers have provided during this global pandemic.
"The sacrifices they're really making, it's so selfless. You look at how it's impacted their lives, you hear all the stories, they're really not seeing their families because they don't want to give the virus to them and then they spend their entire day dealing with people that are really battling this disease. Just their mental state of mind to wake up every day to go there, to do it again. The impact they're having on the world is incredible. They're changing so many lives with the quick work they do," praised Gallagher. "You really want to recognize all the essential workers right now, anyone that's serving a role, because we're all relying on them so much to get the job done. They really have been doing a tremendous job. There's no real way to say thank you. It'll never be enough."
Like the Canadiens' alternate captain, Suzuki was eager to give hospital workers a well-deserved nod for their outstanding service to the community.
During a chat with Gallagher, he jumped at the opportunity to participate.
"It just kind of clicked in my head that I wanted to do it, too. I asked to split it with him," explained Suzuki, 20, who returned to London, ON for the NHL's coronavirus pause. "I have a ton of appreciation for the staff. I've been in the hospital a few times myself, and the work they do is huge for every patient. They take care of them so well. Putting themselves on the line, and the families they come home to, they're risking their families' health. Everyone needs them to be at work. They know they have to get the job done. It's kind of like a hockey team. The team over there is doing such a great job and we just needed to help them out."
To further support the "Together, providing for our teams" fundraising initiative, the Canadiens' official store, Tricolore Sports, has also provided the MGH Foundation with a few Gallagher jerseys and goal pucks that will be awarded to lucky donors over the next month.