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FEATURE: Ty Smith Receiving Mentorship From Opposition

Ty Smith is living and training with Montreal's Brendan Gallagher this offseason, as he prepares to compete for a role with the Devils

by Amanda Stein amandacstein /

Montreal Canadiens Alternate Captain Brendan Gallagher sets his alarm during the offseason months for 7:00 a.m. 

By 7:10 a.m. he's in the kitchen getting his breakfast ready. 

7:30 a.m. is approaching, and that's when Brendan and his summer houseguest leave Gallagher's home in Vancouver to head to the Delta Hockey Academy for their daily workout. It's the facility where Gallagher's father Ian is the owner and strength and conditioning coach. 

7:15 a.m. Gallagher is still alone in the kitchen. 

7:20 a.m. rolls around and - you guessed it - still just Brendan.

Time is ticking when suddenly Gallagher's houseguest emerges from his room. 

"Ty rolls in about 7:27," Gallagher laughed. 

'Ty' is New Jersey Devils prospect Ty Smith.

Smith has spent the past two summers living with Gallagher and has been training at the Delta Academy since his bantam days. 

"I went [to Delta Academy] when I was 14 for my second-year bantam and kind of developed a relationship with his dad that way," Smith said in early July. "We have the same agent as well, so I guess we kind of came in contact through him, and then I was training with him last summer and I was living with one of my buddies that I lived with when I played in Delta, but his family moved halfway through the summer so [Gallagher] said 'Hey, you can come to live with me, I got lots of room in my place.'" 

So far, it's been a good match.  

Smith says both Ian and Brendan have been strong influences as he looks to etch out his NHL career with New Jersey.

"Those guys have definitely been good for me, building strength, and adding weight."

Gallagher is a seven-year NHL veteran, while Smith is looking to crack the Devils lineup this season just two years after being drafted. The fit is a strong one that benefits both parties. Gallagher is recognized as one of the hardest working members of his NHL club and pushes Smith to be his best. 

"He's a great guy for me to be around when it comes to work ethic and all the right habits away from the gym and rink," Smith said.

Brendan doesn't let anything slide when it comes to Smith, especially in the gym. The veteran just simply doesn't have it in him to let a rookie beat him at anything and is not afraid to give Smith the rookie treatment.

"Obviously, he's the youngest guy there so we like to have some fun with him and joke around with him a little bit," Gallagher said. "We're all there for the same goals, you want to push each other, you want to get better. I think he does the same, you know the other day we were doing sprints and I really didn't want to let him beat me, so I went harder than anyone there. It's little things like that where in the summer it's nice to have, having him around, he's a really hard-working kid."

Gallagher beats Smith in the sprints. 

"He's really keying on me in the gym and making me work that much harder," Smith said. "I think that part of things is good for me. As far as living with [Brendan], he's probably the most competitive human I know."

At home, Gallagher says the two are pretty relaxed. And as a tenant, Smith has "no real bad habits, but he spends a lot of time on his phone. But I guess we all do that." 

"It's pretty easy for me to have Ty stay here," he added. "It is nice to have him around you know, he's very open at asking questions and very easy to help out when he needs. He takes advice really well and at the same time, a lot of it is just pushing each other to get better and competing with someone. The more people you have around that are competitive and wanting to push each other, the better off you all are. It benefits both of us." 

The one place where no competition seems to be involved is in the kitchen.

Neither have been blessed with culinary skills, apparently. 

Both would rather make the short drive to Gallagher's parent's house for a home-cooked meal. Mom, Della, keeps both players fed on a regular basis. 

"My parents live about three minutes away and that option to go home is just so much easier," Gallagher said. "My mother is a much better cook than we are so, it's easier for us to go home. But when we are forced to cook, we do okay but I wouldn't say either of us specialize in it!"

On Mondays, Della serves meatballs. 

"Ty calls it 'The Meatball Monday'," Gallagher laughed. "But it just works out like that, she's had a weekend off away from us and is excited to cook and feed us again."

Back in their own home, they're just two laid-back guys who relish competition, except for when it comes to who gets to control the television remote.

 "That would probably be me," Gallagher said. "But really, I don't think he's even watching, he's just totally fine just sitting there. He's pretty low maintenance, he's a great guy to have around. We're just both pretty relaxed guys." 

Relaxed until the real competition is involved.

"We do a little bit of everything, but a lot of ping-pong," Gallagher said. "But I have this belt I like to wear around him and pretend it's my championship belt every time I win something. When we play ping-pong it usually ends up going to Game 7, but he hasn't yet beaten me. It's the mental edge that I still have, I'm able to talk him into making mistakes! But he's definitely getting closer, so I'm getting a little bit worried!"

Their usual evening routine involves competition as well and an unusual game for a teenage and someone in their mid-twenties.

"I give him a hard time in [cribbage]," Gallagher said. "We play crib every night. He's not too bad, he's getting a little bit better, but I like to tell him my win percentage is probably nine out of ten, which is probably a lie. But I like to bug him with that." 

"It can be frustrating at times because I like to win," Smith said. "So, it's frustrating when I lose [to him] but it's definitely good to be around all the time and see what a pro acts like away from the rink and in the summer."

So where does Smith get to post the 'W''s? Video games, Gallagher conceded. 

"[Playing] NHL, I don't have a chance. I haven't beaten him all summer. That's the one thing he's got on me."

And while it's all fun and games between the two, there will be a day where the summer roommates line up against each other on an NHL ice surface. A place where Gallagher expects to see Smith excel in once the opportunity arrives. 

"He's very motivated to get better and he's got his mind set on making the National Hockey League and I think everything he's done this summer has been working towards that goal," Gallagher said. "It's been really fun to watch him and all the hard work he's putting in. Hopefully, he can go [to New Jersey] and it will all pay off for him."  

"It's a pretty exciting time to play, he's on the verge of reaching something that he's dreamt about. Knowing how close he is and putting in the work to get there, it's exciting to be around."

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