SUNRISE - Saturday night's game against the Panthers is about far more than picking up points in the standings.
It's a chance for the Canadiens to honor the memory of Hall of Famer Henri Richard, who passed away on Friday at age 84.
The former captain and 11-time Stanley Cup champion was always known for being a fierce and fiery competitor, and that's exactly the type of hockey Brendan Gallagher would like to see the group deliver to close out their three-game road trip at the BB&T Center.
"Tonight, it's not so much about doing it for the jersey. Henri Richard did so much for that jersey, I think it's time to do something for him, honor his legacy and just play the way that he would've done. That's really what's important, and that's the way you would want to honor him," said Gallagher, who is returning to the lineup after being sidelined against the Tampa Bay Lightning earlier in the week with the flu. "Hopefully we can respond well tonight and honor him the way he deserves to be honored."
The 27-year-old right-winger has a deep appreciation for Richard's unique place in team history.
He fully understands the importance of paying tribute to one of the franchise's all-time greats with a solid performance from start to finish.
"I've spent eight years in this city, so I have a pretty good understanding of what he meant to the fanbase and what he meant to the team. You always play for the jersey, you always play for the fans, but tonight it's something a little bit different. You're probably playing for his legacy and for him. I don't think anything else matters," stated Gallagher. "He gave so much to this organization, helped build it, helped make it. He's one of the pillars that made the Montreal Canadiens the greatest hockey organization in the sport. You just want to honor him and play the way he would've enjoyed his team to play, and hopefully you do him proud."
Video: Brendan Gallagher on playing in Henri Richard's honor
Gallagher heard that head coach Claude Julien actually likened his game to that of Richard's on Friday.
That made the eight-year NHL veteran smile, of course, because Richard managed to overcome significant odds in his hockey career, just like he did all these years later.
"I think he was talking more about the style than the abilities. He had more ability than me," insisted Gallagher. "In terms of style, he just did it in a time where he was definitely doubted. It was cool being able to hear the stories. He was 5-foot-7, I believe. Nobody really expected him to play in the National Hockey League. They figured he was only getting the opportunity because of his brother. But he was so good that he was able to work his way out of Maurice Richard's shadow, which isn't an easy thing to do. It's incredibly special."
Like the rest of the hockey world, captain Shea Weber was sad to hear that another Habs legend was gone, too.
"Those are the guys that led the way for a lot of players in the NHL, and then obviously the captains here in Montreal," said Weber. "It's a sad day not only for hockey, but for the Montreal Canadiens as well."
Video: Shea Weber on the passing of Henri Richard
Here's to you, Roberto!
Former Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo will have his No. 1 jersey raised to the rafters on Saturday night, becoming the first player in franchise history to have his number retired in the process.
The 40-year-old Montreal native spent 11 seasons with Florida, and holds their records for games played by a netminder (572), wins (230) and shutouts (38), along with several other franchise marks as well.
Fellow puckstopper Carey Price is proud to see Luongo's on-ice achievements in the Sunshine State being recognized.
"I'm very happy for him. He's such a fun personality to be around. He has very quick wit. I got to play with him in Sochi [at the 2014 Winter Olympics], and he was a great partner for me there. He was always a great ambassador for goaltending," praised Price. "I definitely followed his career. He's been a role model for myself and many other Canadian goaltenders. His style, his competitiveness, he definitely had the right attitude coming into games."
Gallagher, meanwhile, has a great deal of respect for Luongo's proficiency in between the pipes and his deep connection to the area as well.
"He was a good goalie. You're always happy to see good goalies retire. He had a good career. It's nice that they're honoring him. He meant so much to this team," said Gallagher. "But I think when that shooting happened [at Parkland's Stoneman Douglas High School in February 2018], everyone got to see the impact he had on the community. It was pretty special for them."
Charlie gets the nod
Charlie Lindgren will get the start in goal on Saturday night, giving Price a rare night off.
The 26-year-old Lakeville, MN native has won his last two outings, most recently besting the Carolina Hurricanes on February 29 at the Bell Centre.
"He looked good this morning," mentioned Julien, following the on-ice session. "Hopefully, he bring us that kind of game tonight."
This will mark Lindgren's sixth start of the season.
He owns a 2-3-0 record with Montreal so far this year, along with a 3.37 goals-against average and a .884 save percentage.