When talking about NHL on ice agitators, the word “rat” gets thrown around much too loosely. Like saying a stick has “imploded” when really it just snapped into two large pieces, saying rat seems to be trendy and acceptable as a blanket term for anyone who gets under an opponent’s skin. This places what I think is an unfair label on one player in particular: Brendan Gallagher.
Gallagher is arguably the heart and soul of the Montreal Canadiens and is inarguably the only Canadiens player regularly willing to go to the less user friendly areas on the ice. He practically lives in front of the net and no matter how much of a pounding he takes he always has that trademark smile. I would hate to play against him, but I wouldn’t hate him. I wouldn’t call him a rat. Other than doing things that other people aren’t willing to do and being extremely good at them, what has he done to be categorized with the despicable of the league? Can anyone give me one example of a dirty hit, an undisciplined outburst, a sucker punch, a horrible stick infraction, or any example at all of Gallagher competing using anything other than a hockey play?
Montreal isn’t exactly packed with grit, yet Gallagher sits only 9th in team penalty minutes this season. Sure, he missed a few games and you could argue he’d probably be higher if you ratio it out. You can’t argue that in 82 games last season he was 13th on the team. 290th in the league! As a matter of fact, that’s 17 places lower than Max Pacioretty. Gallagher was also a plus 18. Just saying. Scratching your head are you? How could that be? He’s always there being a…well, he’s always doing…wait. What exactly does he do? Nothing. He just smiles.
That’s why you hate him. That’s why Habs fans love him. That’s why he should never again be called… A rat.