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Hands of time

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

Speaking to the media for the first time since fracturing two fingers on his left hand, forward Brendan Gallagher was back in Brossard with his trademark smile in Brossard Monday morning.

The frustration of being out of the lineup was evident in Gallagher’s first media op since the forward underwent surgery on November 23, 2015 after blocking a Johnny Boychuk shot against the New York Islanders the previous night.

Nonetheless the Canadiens’ assistant captain was in his usual jovial mood despite his current situation.

“The doctors did a good job; I was pretty beat up at the time. I couldn’t ask for any more. Dr. Paul Martineau did a great job with the surgery and the rehab has been going great so far,” expressed Gallagher, who had nine goals and ten assists for a total of 19 points in 22 games before the injury occurred. “I don’t know how many, but they put in a bunch of little screws and a couple plates, one in each finger. It is a little frustrating not knowing the exact timetable but I’m coming along nicely and trying to get out there as soon as I can.”

After absorbing the hard shot, taking the brunt of the force with his left hand, Gallagher bravely remained out on the ice to support his teammates in the defensive zone rather than seek help from the trainers back on the bench.

“Yeah well I was just standing there. I think I was holding my stick upside down and Pleky started yelling at me to get off the ice. So I thank him for that,” joked Gallagher, who described his mindset in the aftermath of the blocked shot. “It was just reactionary, to kind of throw away my stick and gloves. Then I took a look at my finger and it was pretty gross, it was actually pointing back at me so I figured something was wrong.”

And yet two fractured fingers, a six week rehab stint and surgically placed screws and plates in his left hand combined could not persuade Gallagher to change any aspect of his game.

“It is just one of those situations where I’ve done the same thing so many times before. Ever since junior hockey that’s the way I was taught to block shots,” explained Gallagher, who elevated his play this season to another level on the Canadiens top line alongside Tomas Plekanec and Max Pacioretty. “It is something that I have watched quite a few times. It is just how I block shots and the way I play the game, so nothing is going to change when I get back. It is an unfortunate that I am out of the lineup for some time, but if I could do it all over again I would play the game the same way.”

With regards to a timetable, the tenacious winger explained that he has yet to resume skating as he is awaiting the green light from the doctors before returning to the ice.

“There was pain at the start but not anymore. It is basically about just trying to get movement back in your fingers and working through scar tissue. Pretty soon I will be able to ramp up my treatment, maybe get in the gym and get on the ice and that way when I can comeback I will be ready,” clarified Gallagher, who was given an approximate recover period of six-weeks following his surgery in late November. “I think it is just a very broad timeline. It might be earlier, it might be later but I am just trying to get back as soon as possible. It’s been coming along nicely and I’m happy with the progression so far.”

With the 2016 Winter Classic fast approaching, Gallagher isn’t ready to count himself out just yet.

“When I was driving to the hospital the first thing that came to mind, but I am not giving up on it yet,” encouraged Gallagher. “The trainers that we have at the rink are doing everything humanly possible to get me back in time so I told them not to give up on me just yet.”

For a player who comes to the rink every day with the determination to give everything he has to help the team, watching from the sidelines can be more painful than any broken bone.

“The hardest part about being injured is the fact that you’re kind of isolated. You try to be part of it as much as you can, but they’re only so much of it that you can do to contribute,” explained the 23-year-old, who set career highs in goals (24), assists (23), points (47) and plus-minus (+18) last season. “Obviously you don’t want Carey to be injured, but the fact that we’re going through this together helps us to be a little more mentally sane coming to the rink. It’s good to have him around. We have as much fun as we can in the situation we’re in.”

When his number is called, there is no doubt that Gallagher will be ready, but for the time being the Edmonton, Alberta native will need to find other distractions to help pass the time.

“The worst part is that I can’t even play videogames! I’ve got way too much time on my hands. I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube videos but at least my Fantasy Football team is really kicking off, so that’s positive,” responded Gallagher, when questioned by Canadiens goaltender and reporter for a day Dustin Tokarski, who inquired about the status of Gallagher’s fantasy sports team.

Jared Ostroff is a writer for canadiens.com

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