Giants' Gallagher stung by Team Canada cut
Coach Don Hay believes setback might benefit young forward's career as he gets another shot next season
By Elliott Pap, Vancouver Sun
December 15, 2010
This Brendan Gallagher goal on goalie Olivier Roy wasn't enough to help the Vancouver Giant survive the first round of cuts for the Canadian junior national hockey team on Tuesday.
Photograph by: Aaron Lynett, Postmedia News, Vancouver Sun
As Team Canada began cutting players Tuesday, Vancouver Giant right-winger Brendan Gallagher among them, Giants coach Don Hay couldn't help but recall when he was the one doing the cutting.
Hay was head man for the 1994-95 Canadian world junior entry, whose talent pool was overflowing with blue-chippers due to an NHL lockout. It was the first so-called 'Dream Team' and it proceeded to march to a perfect 7-0-0 record and the gold medal.
Hay made some interesting decisions that year. He cut Todd Bertuzzi, Brendan Morrison, Brett Lindros and Daymond Langkow and kept the likes of Jason Botterill, Jamie Rivers, Marty Murray, Larry Courville and Chad Allan. The latter two -- remember -- were Vancouver Canuck draft picks who never did a thing at the NHL level.
"There is always a good group of players who don't make the team and sometimes they go on to have better careers than the guys who do make it," Hay noted. "There is no shame in getting released by Team Canada."
Gallagher, Hay's star rightwinger, is only 18 so he will have another crack next year. Hay figures the experience Gallagher has gained by attending last summer's Team Canada camp, and the one this week, will only improve his game.
"Let's face it, whenever you get released, it's a shock to you because usually you've been the best player growing up and you haven't been released very often," Hay said. "But I also think it's a growing step in his career. He'll get better because of this. It's easy for me to say that right now but I also understand that it's tough for him. I sympathize with him."
Gallagher was called at 6 a.m. Eastern Time in his hotel room in Toronto and given the bad news. Two hours later, he was on a flight back to Vancouver. He didn't practise with the Giants Tuesday, or talk to beat reporters, on orders from Hay.
"I wanted him to get some sleep," explained Hay, whose team leaves today for Everett and the start of a three-game road trip that also includes games in Tri-Cities and Spokane. "We're really happy to have him back in our group. He's such a competitive player and really plays to his identity and our identity."
Gallagher did speak to reporters in Toronto as he checked out of the hotel and headed to Pearson airport. He was one of nine players released after just two days and two intra-squad games. Another nine players will be cut today as Team Canada trims its roster to the allowable 22.
"It's tough to come in here and you've got two days to make an impression," Gallagher told TSN. "I'm not going to have any regrets going back to my club team. I thought I came here and did everything I could."
Giants captain Craig Cunningham was pulling for Gallagher to make Team Canada but now he's happy to have his pal back. Gallagher will also be back on Cunningham's line as Hay has decided to reunite the duo after splitting them up the last 4½ games.
"When Gally got selected for the camp, we were all kind of hoping he'd make it," said Cunningham. "Anytime you get a chance to play for your country, it's pretty special. But he's only 18 and he'll get another chance next year. Obviously for us, it's big to have our top goal scorer back."
Notables still in the hunt for a Team Canada spot include Burnaby's Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Port Moody' Ryan Johansen, Victoria's Tyson Barrie and Prince George's Brett Connolly.
G-NOTES: Injured Giants defenceman David Musil, who is on the Czech Republic world junior camp roster, was told Tuesday by Vancouver team doctors to stay off the ice. He leaves today for the Czech camp in Detroit but his participation now seems doubtful. Musil suffered a deep bone bruise and possible hairline fracture in his right leg last Tuesday.
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