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Gallagher: 'You love winners, and that's what he was'

Brendan Gallagher's appreciation for Hall of Famer Yvan Cournoyer will be on full display on Tuesday night

by Matt Cudzinowski @CanadiensMTL /

BROSSARD - Players should be relatively relaxed during the pregame warmup, but that won't be the case for Brendan Gallagher on Tuesday night.

He'll probably be a tad nervous, and there's a good reason why.

In conjunction with the Captains' Reunion, the 27-year-old right-winger will be sporting a special jersey featuring Hall of Famer Yvan Cournoyer's name and number 12.

With that in mind, Gallagher knows that Cournoyer will be watching him closely before the game against the New York Islanders gets underway at the Bell Centre.

"It's a lot of pressure," responded Gallagher with a laugh, when asked about the 10-time Stanley Cup champion being in the house for the franchise's 110th birthday festivities. "I'm going to wear the jersey proudly, though. It's a little opportunity for all of us to give back to the players that we are representing every time we put on that sweater."

Choosing to represent Cournoyer really was a no-brainer for Gallagher.

He credits Cournoyer, who is also rather small in stature by NHL standards at 5-foot-7, with helping to prove that size isn't everything in hockey.

"As a smaller player, you're always looking at other smaller guys. Those are guys who definitely paved the way for me being able to do what I do," explained Gallagher, who certainly makes the most of his 5-foot-9, 184-pound frame night after night. "I wasn't able to grow up watching him play, but to hear stories and just to know what he's all about, it sounds like he was someone that was a treat for fans to watch and a treat to be a teammate of. He's the type of guy you'd want in your locker room."

The fact that the man dubbed "The Roadrunner" hoisted the Cup again and again over the years also captured Gallagher's attention, of course.

"You love winners, and that's what he was," praised Gallagher. "That's the ultimate goal. You want to be a winner, too. The fact that he won the Stanley Cup so many times says a lot about him. He probably had to retire because he ran out of fingers to put his Stanley Cup rings on."

All kidding aside, Gallagher is hoping a little bit of Cournoyer's magic will rub off on him versus the Isles. And his linemates would undoubtedly appreciate a helping hand from the respective Hall of Famers they're representing as well.

"I think we were kind of joking around. On our line, I'm wearing Mr. Cournoyer's jersey, Phil [Danault] has Jean Beliveau, and Tuna's [Tomas Tatar] got Henri Richard. They might be the three greatest forwards in the history of the Habs," mentioned Gallagher. "Hopefully the three of us can honor that pretty well."

Having met away from the rink on several occasions, Gallagher is a real fan of the genuine person Cournoyer is too.

"You definitely listen to everything he has to say. His personality just comes out. He's a good person to be around. He's got a good sense of humor, and he likes to joke around. At the same time, he's been through a lot and he's got a lot of experience," said Gallagher. "He told me a few stories during our meetings, and he's obviously a guy that I respect a lot."

Earlier this season, Cournoyer joined a dozen other Habs alums in sharing some hard-earned wisdom with the current Canadiens squad.

The veteran of 968 regular-season games over a decade-and-a-half with Montreal had a heartfelt message for newcomers.

"My wife just told me last week that I retired 40 years ago. The 10th of October. We've got six new guys here, so welcome to the family," said Cournoyer. "I remember when I came to Montreal, I was 19 years old. I thought I was going to play one year, I was lucky enough to win a few Stanley Cups and stay for 15 years. So you guys who just came in, I think you're going to like Montreal for a long time. And I'm sure you might have a chance to maybe win a Stanley Cup one day."

Fans are invited to be in their seats by 6:45 p.m. for the pregame ceremony, which will feature 11 of the team's 12 retired captains - plus current captain Shea Weber. Henri Richard won't be in attendance due to health issues, but will be honored during the festivities.

Tickets are still available for this historic evening and can be purchased HERE.

The jerseys will be auctioned off and all proceeds will be donated to the Montreal Canadiens Children's Foundation in support of the 11th annual #ourGOALtoASSIST RadioTéléDON, which will take place during the game.

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