Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Brendan Gallagher Jersey Card

Brendan Gallagher is the Montréal Canadiens' heart and soul. Sure, he also happens to be their leading goal scorer - with a team-leading 22 tallies in 59 games in 2019-20 (tied with Tomas Tatar, who posted that total in 68 games), and the lone 30-goal scorer the previous two seasons, 5 more than Max Domi (and 8 more than Tatar) in 2018-19 and a whopping 11 more than Paul Byron in 2017-18 - but he's also the guy sho sparks the offense on listless nights by planting himself in the opposing goalie's crease no matter the adversary joining him there. He has even taken to replacing his displeasure at missed calls with a smirk or a laugh in the face of pain or even a brutal injury, or in the case of a broken jaw suffered at the hands of Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Matt Niskanen in the 2020 playoffs, yapping like his life depended on it: Then again, Gally is used to dealing with Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara, who has tried numerous times to sever his head by guillotining his throat: And yet, his penalty minute tally had gone downward as his point production has increased, as his PIM count was far superior to his point totals in three of his first five NHL seasons, while the complete opposite has been true for the past three.

With this in mind, Habs GM Marc Bergevin offered the diminutive winger a six-year contract extension that nearly doubles his cap hit this off-season, prompting the reflection as to whether the best asset management was signig him from ages 29 through 35 as a first-line winger when the wear-and-tear will start showing more and more on his small frame rather than banking on his current status as a producer and leader on a playoff bubble team to add premium talent elsewhere in the lineup or prospects and high draft picks in a trade to a contender where he would play in the middle six.

I'm in the camp that would rather see him retire with the team he was drafted by, but the contract cements my thinking that he should have been wearing the "C" on his chest two captains ago, earning it ahead of Max Pacioretty and thus negating the need to hand it over to Shea Weber afterwards. You hear a lot about the Canadiens being Carey Price's team, or Weber's, but the truth of the matter is Price has been a middling goaltender for the past four seasons, which has pretty much corresponded with Weber's presence as the top guy on D, a job he has kind of lost to Jeff Petry for the past two seasons.

For all those reasons and because he's the team's sparkplug, its default sniper and its chief grinder, and because when he falls to injury the team drops in the standings like a 1980s Mike Tyson opponent, the Habs are Gallagher's team. So goes #11, so goes Montréal.

It's fitting that Upper Deck chose this photo for card #GJ-BG in their 2016-17 Series 1 collection and UD Game Jersey subset:
It shows him wearing the team's classic bleu-blanc-rouge (now-home) uniform, but the team's logo is hidden by his position, and instead his Warrior gloves are front and center. The fact that this card contains a white game-worn jersey swatch just further leads the eye to the center of the card to push the message further forward.

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