MONTREAL – The city of Montreal’s population went up by two very happy residents on Monday morning.
Good news came in twos for linemates Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher when Michel Therrien pulled them aside Monday and told them it was time to start looking for places to live in Montreal. After making the team together to start the season, and leaving little doubt that they belonged at hockey’s highest level, it looks like Habs fans will get to see their development in the NHL continue past the first five games of 2012-13.
“They’ve earned the right to stay here. They both showed up prepared and with every intention of making this team and they worked hard to make it happen,” prasied defenseman Josh Gorges, of Galchenyuk and Gallagher, who along with Brandon Prust made up arguably the Canadiens’ best line against the Devils on Sunday night.
“I think they’re two players with a large amount of talent that complement each other very well,” added Gorges, who represents one of the many players in the Habs’ dressing room who will serve as a role model for the team’s young talent. “Chucky is really skilled and a very aggressive player for a guy that’s only 18-years-old. Gally really shows up for every game and I love watching him on the ice. He’s always going straight for the net and really getting in guys’ faces out there. It’s going to be a lot of fun seeing them develop over the next years.”
For Galchenyuk, the offer to stay in Montreal means that 2012-13 will now stand as the first year of his entry-level contract with the Canadiens. While Gallagher’s two-way contract means he’s still eligible to be assigned to the Bulldogs should the team choose to do so, the announcement that he will be staying with the Habs represents a big vote of confidence from his coach.
“To be honest, I didn’t really know what they wanted to talk to me about – I though it was about the game or something like that,” explained Galchenyuk, walking the media surrounding his stall through his morning. “It’s always exciting when the coaches have something to tell you and when they told me I was staying, I was obviously extremely happy. I would have been very disappointed to not stay here. Now I can take a bit of breath and make sure I prove to them that they made the right decision keeping me.”
After mentioning time and again that the organization’s goal was to make sure the team’s youngest players were well surrounded both on and off the ice, it would seem they won’t have to worry too much about their 18-year-old.
“I’m going to find an apartment, and my mother and sister will be staying with me,” continued Galchenyuk, whose family clearly couldn’t be happier with the news. “It’s not just a dream that’s coming true for me, but for them too. I could never be here without my family. They worked hard to help me get to where I am, and I’ll probably never be able to thank them enough for it.”
As another player that started at a young age in Montreal, with high expectations already heaped on his shoulders, Carey Price knows all too well the potential pitfalls that exist playing in the Canadiens market. That said, he had nothing but kind words for the two rookies that, thus far, have come across as mature beyond their years.
“They’re not just really good kids, but they’re both quality people. There’s no arrogance to them and that’s a big thing. When you’re a young guy you have to stay humble because you have to earn the respect of your veterans and your teammates and that’s what they’re doing,” said Price, who made his debut with the Habs at the age of 20 and will be on hand to help keep his young teammates out of any potential trouble. “There are a lot of things that you have to learn. You’re learning to live life while also learning to play in the NHL so there’s a lot of challenges that come with that. We’ve got to help keep their eyes on the prize and keep their priorities in check.
“I’ve got some friends around here,” he added with a cryptic grin. “So we’ll definitely be keeping an eye on them.”
Justin Fragapane is a writer for canadiens.com.
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