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Brendan Gallagher likes revamped Canadiens

Forward talks new teammates Shea Weber, Andrew Shaw, departure of P.K. Subban in Q&A with

by Dave Stubbs @dave_stubbs / Columnist

MONTREAL -- Spark-plug forward Brendan Gallagher spoke to about a variety of topics regarding him and his Montreal Canadiens, a team that has undergone dramatic changes the past few weeks:

You train during the summer in Vancouver with Milan Lucic, who as an unrestricted free agent on July 1 chose the Edmonton Oilers over the Canadiens. In the gym, working out, did you try to convince Lucic to sign with Montreal?

"We talked quite a bit (laughs). Obviously, [Lucic] was going to make the best decision for himself and I wasn't going to change that. I was in his ear a little bit. It was interesting. A few years ago, if you'd asked him if there was one team in the NHL that he'd never go play for, it would have been the Montreal Canadiens (laughs). But just talking to him as the process went along, he was narrowing down teams and he never ruled out coming to Montreal. It was down to those two.

"After we traded for Shea Weber, I think that really intrigued him. I think he really liked the way Berg (Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin) went about his business. … I don't know if I could picture [Lucic] in a Montreal Canadiens jersey but who knows? Maybe one day. It certainly would have been nice to get him to come on board with us but having a chance to play on a line with Connor McDavid is something you can't turn down. McDavid is already a top-five talent in the NHL and could soon very well be the best player in the world."

Video: MTL@FLA: Gallagher slaps home game's first goal

Have you had a chance yet to speak with new teammates Shea Weber or Andrew Shaw?

"I've spoken with Shea, yes, but not Andrew yet. I don't really know Andrew but I'm looking forward to playing with him. He's another guy I've competed with a lot, a guy you'd seem to see every shift. He's a pain, he makes you work and that's what we need -- we need to be harder to play against. To bring in a player like that who's going to compete … with his experience, it's going to be huge for our group.

"With Shea, I'm really excited to play on his team. Look at how effective he is offensively with his shots, how hard he is defensively, how physical he is, how he wears you down. The leadership component he's going to bring to our locker room, I don't think you can underestimate that. I think we're really excited about adding those two pieces and I'm already looking forward to starting the season."

You and Shaw might be cut from the same cloth. The way you guys play in the shadow of the goalie's blue paint, the Canadiens could easily lead the League in goals called back .…

"(Laughs) He and I might need to have a little sit-down to discuss that, but it won't be an issue. I really like the way Andrew plays. I really respect his style. It's not easy to go out there every night and do what he does. He was a very important part of those (Chicago Blackhawks) teams that won those two Stanley Cups (in 2013 and 2015).

"I'm sure Chicago is going to miss him. We're thrilled to grab him and throw him into our locker room. We know he's going to play an important role. I'm certainly excited. And I'm sure Andrew is going to contribute much more than just making the goalie's life miserable. It'll be fun."

You and fellow wing Max Pacioretty, with Alex Galchenyuk at center, had a brief, excellent run together at the end of the season when you returned from your knee injury. Do you expect to be linemates to start the season?

"That will all be up to the coaches. I was only there (alongside Pacioretty and Galchenyuk) for four games but when I was hurt, I watched Max and Alex together and they were really special. When I came back, it was easy for me to come in and do my job and try not to slow them down (laughs). The chemistry the three of us were able to build was fun. We enjoyed playing together and talking things out on the bench, seeing little ways to improve. If we can carry that into the start of next season, I think it will be pretty important for our team."

The elephant in the room, still, is the trade of P.K. Subban to the Nashville Predators for Weber. Did the trade surprise you? Any strong feelings about it today?

"When you see two players with the reputation that P.K. and Shea have, well, you don't often see that in hockey today -- a straight-up trade. That was probably the surprising part. Everyone was talking and there were so many rumors flying around (laughs). By the time the trade happened, you kind of expected something to happen. 

"For us, to bring in someone with Shea's reputation, what he's done in the League … he's so consistent and so good in every facet of the game. Offensively, that shot -- I know from playing against it that you have to respect it. You have to be right in his face or he's going to make you pay. And when you do, it's going to open up options for him. Defensively, he's a pain to play against. He's going to wear you down, he's going to drive you into the corner, he's going to make it a tough night.

"Then there's his leadership in the room. You don't just make that trade to make it, but when you get the opportunity to bring in a player who can do everything that Shea does, well, we're excited about adding him to our group.

Video: MTL@SJS: Gallagher scores from sharp angle in 1st

Given Subban's popularity in Montreal, Weber hasn't exactly been embraced by more than a few Canadiens fans, even before he's pulled on a Canadiens jersey.

"I think fans in Montreal are very passionate and they understand the game of hockey. It's about getting wins and being successful. If, as a team, we can go out and win games, I think everyone is going to understand just how valuable Shea can be to our group. That's on us as a team to help everyone out in this situation.

"We're pretty confident in ourselves. We know that last year was something we don't ever want to go through again. The guys who were here learned a lot and we've brought in a lot of pieces, guys who have won a lot of games over the years. We're all expecting change but it's not going to change if as a group we don't go out there and execute as a team. …

"We need to have a functioning locker room. We need to be together as a team. We need to start Day One of training camp in September, and in everything we do, with a team mentality. We'll go forward from there."

On a personal note, P.K. was a couple of stalls down from you in the practice-rink dressing room. Do you expect a quieter neighborhood now?

"Yeah, it might be nice (laughs). Really, it didn't matter where P.K. sat, you could hear him everywhere!"

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