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Let it grow

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

MONTREAL – For the past three weeks, Michel Therrien’s troops have been growing mustaches in support of a worthy cause.

With 10 days remaining in the annual Movember campaign, the Canadiens have amassed over $25,000 in support of men’s health issues, including the fight against prostate and testicular cancer, and mental health concerns.

While every Habs player might have a different reason for sprouting some additional facial hair this time of year, they’re all in agreement that it’s a purposeful venture.

“It’s a big cause. Everybody can relate to Movember and what it’s all about. You know at some point later in life there’s always a chance that you might be affected by these diseases. There’s no sense in waiting until later on to get involved. It’s all about everybody getting together and growing a mustache. That’s as simple as it gets,” offered Mike Weaver, who is spearheading the Movember initiative amongst his teammates this season.

“I haven’t been directly close to someone affected by prostate cancer, but with every passing year you get older, it’s one of the things on your mind at your yearly physical. This is a great month to remind you about the importance of men’s health and the people affected by it,” added the 36-year-old rearguard, who admits to “watering” his handlebar mustache daily, while providing it with plenty of sunlight to ensure proper growth. “Everytime you look in the mirror, you’re sporting a constant reminder. It really does hit home.”

In Brendan Gallagher’s case, the cause hit close to home just over four years ago while the right-winger was still plying his trade for the WHL’s Vancouver Giants.

“Movember means a lot to me. My grandpa, Matt, passed away from prostate cancer [back in October 2010]. I’ve got someone in my life who went through it. He was a guy who meant a lot to me and my family. It was tough for us when we lost him,” confided Gallagher, who, along with Weaver, Carey Price and P.K. Subban, is involved in a friendly bet against four members of the Vancouver Canucks to see which “Group of 4” can raise the most money to benefit the cause. “Every Movember since my grandpa past, I’ve tried to donate whatever I can and raise money. It’s kind of my way of doing it for him. I want to do whatever I can to help.”

That includes utilizing his Twitter account – @BGALLY17 – to encourage his 139,000-plus followers to jump on board with a campaign that is near and dear to his heart.

“The message I want to get out to people is that we can all make a difference. Whatever you can do, whether it’s raising awareness by growing a mustache or actually making a donation to the cause. Anything helps, and any contribution is a good contribution,” explained Gallagher. “Speaking from experience, it sucks when you lose a loved one to one of these diseases, so it’s just a situation of whoever can help out, whatever you can do, it’s much appreciated and you can have some fun at the same time.”

And, that’s exactly how the Canadiens have collectively approached Movember as a group this time around.

“It’s kind of a team bonding thing to go along with the actual reasoning for it. It’s kind of a competition between the boys. At the same time, we’re raising money, so it’s a win-win situation,” mentioned Price. “There’s kind of a light-heartedness to it, too. It’s all about building awareness. The thing about it is that mustaches don’t exactly suit everybody. You poke fun at each other and have some fun with it as you go.”

One player who knows a thing or two about that is Gallagher himself, as the three-year NHL veteran often takes a bit of a ribbing when Movember comes around.

“I’ve got to give props to Gallagher, even though he can’t grow a mustache. He’s actually hanging in there pretty good,” joked Weaver, who makes sure to give the Habs’ No. 11 a hard time about his struggle to grow facial hair every chance he gets. “He’s been growing that mustache for the last year. He might actually have to dye it a little bit, too.”

Fun and games aside, the Canadiens are looking to close out the month on a high note, and maintain their standing as the league’s top Movember fundraisers once again this season.

“I actually had a conversation with Geoff Molson [earlier in the month] about just how big it is to win it again, so there’s a lot of pressure involved,” concluded Weaver, referencing the fact that the Habs raised an NHL-best $61,208 in support of Movember in 2013-14. “As a team, we’re pretty passionate about this cause. Hopefully, the passion that people have for hockey in Montreal falls into a passion for Movember, too.”

To donate to the Montreal Canadiens’ Movember campaign, click here.

Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for canadiens.com.

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