BROSSARD - Brendan Gallagher certainly didn't expect to suffer another fracture to his left hand forcing him to go through the same rehab work he'd already undergone just over a year ago.
Unfortunately, it's somewhat of a carbon copy scenario for the 24-year-old forward, who sustained the injury in almost the very same spot for a second year in a row.
The good news is that the knuckle that took the brunt of the hit in Dallas isn't one players tend to use often, and he's planning on returning a little bit sooner than he did last year.
"Last year, it took me 40 days before I was able to get back to playing again, so this year I'm aiming for 39. But, we have to make sure that the bone heals properly. On my end, I need to make sure that my fingers are moving well and I'm hoping to come back soon," said Gallagher, who was smiling again 10 days after going down with a fractured left hand.
Gallagher met the media for the first time on Saturday morning since being struck by a Shea Weber shot in Texas that forced him to undergo surgery earlier in the month. A new plate was installed in his hand, adding to the one that had already been inserted last season. Fortunately, the original plate wasn't been damaged this time around.
Video: Brendan Gallagher on his injury and recovery
Video of the incident showed that Gallagher instantly knew that the injury was serious and that he'd likely be sidelined for quite some time. When he went under the knife on January 5, doctors estimated his recovery time to be at least eight weeks.
"I knew that my hand was fractured when I looked at it, and I knew that I needed surgery. It just looked a lot like it did the last time. It was painful, but it's like I didn't really feel it anymore. In my mind, it was more about the frustration because I knew everything that was ahead of me in order to get back to playing," admitted Gallagher.
While Gallagher's frustration trumped his pain in the moments after the injury, the same can't really be said for his rehab work since.
"It's painful, but the more you're able to endure the pain, the faster the process goes. So, if I can manage that, I think I can regain usage of my finger more quickly and I'll be able to hold a stick. The stiffness that I had the last time won't be as big of a problem this time around, because even if the same finger is affected, the joint isn't as important. It doesn't have to move as much, so it's positive," explained Gallagher.
Gallagher's style of play is somewhat behind why injuries like these pop up on occasion - along with some bad luck, of course. Positioning himself in front of the net and blocking shots are big parts of his game and he has no intention of changing the way he goes about his business when he finally comes back.
"I can't change the way I play. If I stop putting myself in those spots, I won't be very effective. Injuries are going to happen and it's unfortunate that I've had to undergo two operations in two years, but you have to learn to live with it and move on. It shouldn't really have an impact on me when I come back," indicated Gallagher.
One thing that may change, though, is the additional protection Gallagher will have in his gloves. He's looking at different options with the help of the Canadiens' equipment staff right now.
"I had some protection there last year and I removed it. I don't know if it would have helped, but I'm probably going to play with it for the rest of my career now since I've been injured twice. I don't want to experience that again, so I'm going to take every necessary precaution to protect my hands, while being comfortable at the same time," concluded Gallagher, who registered six goals and 18 points in 39 games before sustaining his injury