BROSSARD – A week after suffering a concussion, Brendan Gallagher could be ready to pick up his stellar rookie season where he left off on Saturday night.
He’s followed the protocol, met with doctors daily and finally been cleared to practice with contact. The only thing left for Gallagher to do is get the green light to play.
“He looked really good [today],” confirmed head coach, Michel Therrien. “He got permission to have a contact practice today and it looks good for tomorrow night. We have to wait for tomorrow morning to see what the doctor is going to say, but I’m optimistic.”
Gallagher left last Saturday’s game against the Flyers in the third period after being sent into the boards by Luke Schenn and has been forced to watch his team from the sidelines ever since. Despite suffering the second concussion of his hockey career – and the first since he turned pro – the feisty winger has no intention of easing up when he returns to the lineup.
“You doubt it a little bit, of course, but I’m confident in the way I’ve recovered and the way the doctors have handled me and everything they’ve done for me,” mentioned Gallagher, who had a goal, an assist and a plus-2 differential during the game against Philly. “It’s frustrating because it takes such a long time. You feel like you’re ready to play but you’ve got to take these steps. It’s important for my health and it’s something I appreciate the doctors doing.
“When I come back in the lineup I just have to do whatever I can to help the team and continue to have success here,” he added. “When I get back on the ice, from the first shift, I’ll play the same way. That’s the way I’ll be successful and it’s something I can’t change.”
That style has helped Gallagher pick up eight points in 13 games, good enough for sixth in NHL rookie scoring. He’s also sitting second in the league in rookie plus-minus behind fellow Habs freshman, Alex Galchenyuk, with a plus-7 differential. Always ready to sacrifice his body for his teammates, the 5-foot-9 forward is no stranger to playing bigger than his size and the dangers that come along with it.
“I understand the game. Everyone signs up for it. It’s a contact sport and there’s going to be hitting involved,” confirmed Gallagher, who received an apology from Schenn after the hit. “I have no hard feelings towards him or anything like that. It’s just an unfortunate event and I ended up getting hurt. I don’t feel anything towards him and I appreciate him texting me after.”
The 20-year-old confirmed he’s been symptom-free since last Sunday and has spent the past week working his way back into the lineup. Slotted in next to Max Pacioretty and David Desharnais during Friday’s practice, if he shows up for morning skate still symptom-free on Saturday morning, there’s a good chance he’ll be skating alongside them for the opening puck drop, too.
“I feel ready; I feel like I can help the team,” he stressed. “If my name is called, I’ll play the same way I always have.”
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.
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