Montreal Canadiens’ Gallagher took nothing personal from Vigneault’s comments in playoffs

Montreal Canadiens right wing Brendan Gallagher (11) holds a towel on his mouth as Canadiens centre Nick Suzuki (14) checks on him after defeating the Philadelphia Flyers during NHL Eastern Conference Stanley Cup playoff hockey action in Toronto on Wednesday, August 19, 2020. Flyers' Matt Niskanen has received a one-game suspension for his cross-check on Brendan Gallagher late in Wednesday’s game. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Montreal Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher figures he could have returned to action mere weeks after suffering a broken jaw on a controversial play in the playoffs.

Instead, Gallagher is left to wonder what could have been after his underdog Habs fell short against the Philadelphia Flyers.

The forward was cross-checked in the face by Flyers defenceman Matt Niskanen during Game 5 of a first-round playoff series in Toronto last month. Gallagher missed Game 6 after a CT scan, while Niskanen also missed the contest due to a one-game suspension.

“It was a bad play,” Gallagher said Monday on a videoconference with reporters. “I didn’t take anything personal. It’s just something that happens and you move on.”

Gallagher also revealed he suffered a tear to his hip earlier in the post-season.

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Read more: Montreal Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher to undergo surgery for broken jaw

Despite the injuries, the Edmonton native hoped to be available for the Canadiens midway through the second round of the playoffs. The Habs ultimately lost to the Flyers in six games.

Following Game 5, Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault remarked that Gallagher “seemed fine” after the cross-check and even kept talking with referees.

Gallagher said he didn’t read much into Vigneault’s comments, but laughed at the notion that they were similar to remarks he made during a series against the New York Rangers, Vigneault’s former team, in 2014.

Then-Rangers forward Derek Stepan hurt his jaw after taking a hit from former Canadiens forward Brandon Prust, but Gallagher was initially skeptical over the seriousness of the injury.

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“I felt pretty dumb afterward when I found out it actually was broken,” Gallagher said about his 2014 comments.

Gallagher says he’s gotten past the “uncomfortable” stage of having a broken jaw and has a few dental procedures to go.

Read more: Montreal Canadiens GM criticizes Flyers coach for Gallagher comments

Gallagher says he isn’t sure how he suffered the hip injury but says it happened during the qualifying-round series with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He hopes to avoid surgery and let the injury heal during his time off before jumping into off-season training.

“It was kind of tough to get through,” Gallagher said. “But once we had those four days off (after beating Pittsburgh) and got to prepare for Philly, I think that really helped.”

The Canadiens have been busy in their off-season, acquiring goaltender Jake Allen and the rights to pending unrestricted free agent defenceman Joel Edmundson in the past few days. While preliminary discussions have started on a new contract for Gallagher, who could be a free agent in 2021, he knows more changes could be on the horizon if the Canadiens fail to build on their playoff appearance.

“There’s definitely a lot of uncertainty,” Gallagher said. “We talk to you guys all the time. We love playing together. If we want it to stay that way, we have to start demanding results.”


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