WINNIPEG, MB. — To help prepare for this piece, I asked Habs fans on Twitter to name their favourite current player with the Montreal Canadiens and describe the characteristics helped to make that particular player their top choice.
Be honest #Habs fans, who's your favourite (& why) out of the following Canadiens?
— ShannLeah (@ShannLeah) August 16, 2014
P.K. Subban: Professional with an out-of-this-world personality who is driven to improve each year. A dedicated winner. #Habs — Matthew Macaskill
Price. The man is cool, calm & collected, sometimes overly. Exactly what you need as a franchise player/goaltender. — Kevin Rodrigues
The responses showed the passion that Habs fans are known for, and even though the choices were diverse, I had to go with one of the Habs brightest, young stars, Brendan Gallagher.
Gallagher grew up in British Columbia and began playing hockey at a young age. Gallagher’s father, who is a strength and conditioning coach for the Vancouver Giants of the WHL, helped to expose Brendan to the game of hockey. Research has consistently shown that parents are considered the initial, as well as the most critical, form of sport socialization for young, potential athletes1. In effect, having his father expose him to the game of hockey, and to the physical preparation required for the sport, could have only benefited Gallagher in his own physical and mental preparedness for playing in an elite sports arena, like Montreal.
At only 18 years old, Gallagher’s life changed. He was drafted by the Montreal Canadiens in the 5th round of the 2010 NHL Draft in Los Angeles, California. In the same draft year as other notable NHLers like Tyler Seguin, Tyler Toffoli, and fellow Canadien, Jarred Tinordi, it’s safe to say that Gallagher came from a good draft year. But what Gallagher has accomplished in four years’ time, most people could not have imagined.
This past season with Montreal was Gallagher’s first full season at the Bell Centre. Gallagher played 81 games and racked up an impressive 41 points. Not one to shy away from the physical aspect of the game, Gallagher spent 73 minutes in the penalty box. What impressed fans the most was his grittiness during the Habs playoff run where he scored an additional four goals and seven assists in 17 games. Aside of his stellar work ethic on the ice, Gallagher’s personality has helped him win over the hearts of fans and media alike.
Personality has long-been studied in the realm of professional sport with researchers wondering if there is a ‘sport-specific’ personality, or perhaps a personality type who tends to gravitate towards professional sport. Some would say that extroverts tend to lean towards professional sport2 more consistently than introverts. This is not surprising as extroverts work quite well in a team dynamic. Gallagher is a pleasure to watch on the ice, but his off-ice demeanor is what helps earn his respect from his teammates. He is a true team player, constantly boasting about his teammates’ skills during after-game interviews, and leaning away from personal praise. Additionally, Gallagher is always more than willing to put himself in harm’s way in order to benefit the team overall. Willingness to persevere and one’s ability to cope with pressure are also great indicators of an athlete’s potential for success in elite sport2. It is safe to say that Brendan Gallagher exhibits all of these personality characteristics, and then some.
One thing that critics constantly seem to make note of is Gallagher’s ‘lack of size.’ At 5-foot-9-inches and 190 pounds, most people wave him off at first glance. But Gallagher plays with fierceness on the ice, always completes his fore-check, and isn’t afraid to take on players with more size than him. It has been documented that athletes tend to understand certain disadvantages and advantages in sport that can be associated with height3. For example, some athletes feel that a lack of height and weight could potentially lower his odds of succeeding against larger opponents in a physical game such as hockey. For Gallagher, it consistently seems as though that type of negative thinking does not cross his mind. And though most hockey players’ success is partially determined by size and physical presence on the ice, a player’s combination of speed, strength, & skill certainly contribute to overall longevity4 in the league.
Before the start of the 2013-’14 season, Gallagher discussed his friendly competition with fellow teammate, Alex Galchenyuk. What Gallagher said is something that has stuck with me for nearly a year, “We want to build on what we did last year, and grow as players.” I think it’s safe to say that Gallagher has become a force on the Canadiens team. Gallagher is such a force that some fans feel he would be ready to take on the captaincy. What are your thoughts on this up and coming star?
- Lavoi, N.M. & Babkes-Stellino, M. (2008). The Relation Between Perceived Parent-Created Sport Climate and Competitive Male Youth Hockey Players’ Good and Poor Sport Behaviors. The Journal of Psychology: Interdisciplinary and Applied, 142:5, 471-496, doi 10.3200/JRLP.142.5.471-496
- Allen, M.S., Greenless, I., & Jones, M. (2013). Personality in Sport: A Comprehensive Review. International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 6:1, 184-208.
- Forman, O. (1924). Height as a Basis for Competitive Athletics in Elementary and Junior High Schools. The Elementary School Journal, 25:3, 207-210.
- Sherar, L.B., Baxter-Jones, A.D.G., Faulkner, R.A., Russell, K.W. (2007). Do physical maturity and birth date predict talent in male youth ice hockey players? Journal of Sports Science, 25:8, 879-886, doi: 10.1080/02640410600908001