EDMONTON - Every player has their own pregame warmup routine, and assistant captain Brendan Gallagher is no exception.
He's all about keeping things light and soaking up the atmosphere before getting down to the business at hand.
And when you play the game the way Gallagher does, that's a good thing.
"I like to kind of stay relaxed during warmups," said the 27-year-old left-winger, following Friday afternoon's practice at Downtown Community Arena. "During games, we're so tense and there's a lot going on. Warmups is just a time to get the body feeling good and feeling loose. Going into the game, you just want to feel good about yourself."
So how does Gallagher stay zen during the warmup period? That's where a ritual of sorts comes into play.
When the Canadiens are at the Bell Centre, you'll see him pay some of his teammates' kids seated along the front row a special visit.
He'll skate over and give the glass a tap with his stick to say hello.
"It probably started with Petey's [Jeff Petry] kids. Boydo and Bear would come down by the glass. And then Pauly's [Paul Byron] kids joined. Brysen gets really excited. [Shea Weber's son] Beckette gets in there, and so does Pricey's [Carey Price] daughter, Liv. I always get a nice giggle out of her," said Gallagher. "I've got to be careful, though, because some of the kids are a little young. I've got to make sure not to hit the glass too hard and just give them a little poke. It's fun. I'm doing nothing at that time anyways, so seeing smiles on kids' faces is always nice."
The routine actually takes the Edmonton native back to his childhood for a brief moment in time, too.
"There's something about seeing the excitement on kids' faces, you kind of remember when you were a young kid and what it meant going to those games," mentioned Gallagher, the Canadiens' leading goal-scorer thus far this season with 15 markers on his resume. "Those memories are important memories."
They certainly are, and that's why Gallagher has made this a regular thing on the road as well.
"I'll do it every game. I'll find some Habs fans. There always seems to be kids somewhere along the glass. I give them a little bump, make sure they're ready for the game as well. Get them a little woken up, too," joked Gallagher. "Usually they don't expect it to come, and then I look at them for a little bit because they're usually a bit taken aback and they're in shock. I just look and smile, and that usually gets a smile out of them."
A Canadiens camera also caught this precious moment on December 6 when Gallagher delivered some off-ice bumps at Madison Square Garden.
A popular guy
Gallagher's relationship with Petry's youngsters means a lot to him.
Upon arrival at the Bell Centre on game nights, Boyd and Barrett will seek out their good buddy for a chat.
"Boydo always runs in, and we're always usually playing soccer when they show up. He'll usually lead the charge and Bear follows him," explained Gallagher with a smile. "I think Boydo actually had a bobblehead of me. I think he got mad and broke it one day, so then we got him one of those posters. Now the poster's up, so he came and told me how excited he was to have that in his room."
And just like Petry's eldest sons, Gallagher looks forward to every single visit.
"They've got good personalities and they're fun to be around," said Gallagher. "They always seem to make you laugh, and they've got a lot of energy."
Footage of Gallagher's playful meeting with Brysen on December 14 will make you smile as well.
Keep it up, Gally! We're loving this.