Habs rookie prospects mend fences
Holland, Gallagher were WHL rivals
By PAT HICKEY, THE GAZETTE
June 15, 2012
EDMONTON, ALBERTA. AUG.5/2011- Brendan Gallagher told The Gazette that “I’m most effective when I’m pissing guys off.”
(Bruce Edwards/Edmonton Journal)Photograph by: Bruce Edwards , Bruce Edwards
After three seasons of tormenting Patrick Holland, Brendan Gallagher said this week has given him the opportunity to mend some fences.
The two have been rivals in the Western Hockey League, where the pesky Gallagher has earned a reputation for getting under an opponent’s skin, but he and Holland are now on the same side. They are among the 32 players attending the Canadiens’ development camp in Brossard, and they are expected to be teammates this fall with the American Hockey League’s Hamilton Bulldogs.
“We had a few run-ins in the WHL,” said Gallagher, who played for the Vancouver Giants. “I’m most effective when I’m pissing guys off. I got him a few times, but he won’t let me forget that Tri-City beat us in the playoffs this year.”
The possibility of the two Alberta natives becoming teammates arose earlier this year when the Canadiens acquired Holland’s rights from the Calgary Flames as part of the deal that sent Michael Cammalleri back to Calgary.
“It was a bit of a surprise,” admitted Holland, who grew up as an Edmonton Oilers fan in Lethbridge. “Guys get traded in junior all the time, but it’s unusual for NHL teams to trade junior players. In the short term, it didn’t affect me. I went from one class organization to another, and now I’m just trying to make it as a pro.”
Gallagher and Holland have both made strides since being late-round draft choices in 2010.
Gallagher’s lack of height – he’s 5-foot-8 – scared most teams, and the Canadiens selected him in the fifth round (147th overall). But the solidly built forward was the surprise of training camp last fall as he excelled in a series of exhibition games. There was a general feeling the Canadiens were waiting for him to fail so they wouldn’t have to make a decision on whether to keep him.
“I made it easy for them,” said Gallagher, who appears to have a perpetual smile on his face. “I didn’t have a very good game in the final exhibition against Tampa Bay. I was playing against Marty St. Louis and I think I spent too much time watching him. He’s my hero and I try to pattern my game on his.”
Gallagher had a solid season in Vancouver, with 41 goals and 36 assists in 54 games. He also had three goals and three assists in six games with Canada at the World Junior Championship. He said he has added a few pounds of muscle, but was disappointed he didn’t grow any taller.
The Flames drafted Holland in the seventh round (193rd overall). He had a breakthrough this past season with 25 goals and 84 assists while playing with the Tri-City Americans, ranking seventh in Canadian Hockey League scoring.
“I’ve always been a late bloomer and I needed time to grow in height and get bigger,” the 6-foot, 175-pound right-winger said. “It has to be tough on the people who are drafting because you’re making projections into the future. You have a seventh-rounder like Pavel Datsyuk, who becomes a star, and there are first-rounders who never make it.”
The assumption would be that Holland benefitted from playing on a line with Brendan Shinnimir, who led the CHL with 134 points, but Holland said they were together for only a month.
“I didn’t play with him until February,” Holland said. “I played most of the time of the time with Justin Feser.”
And Holland’s numbers are a little unusual because he has a disproportionately high number of assists for a winger.
“I’ve always been a passer and I read the ice pretty well,” he said. “I do get myself quite a bit of shots, but that’s something I have to work on, bearing down on my chances.”
While Gallagher’s goal is to make it to the NHL next fall, he realizes he might start his pro career in Hamilton.
“That would be interesting, because this is my third development camp and there are a lot of guys here who have been together for a few years and become friends,” he said.
Gallagher, Holland, Nathan Beaulieu, Jarred Tinordi, Michael Bournival, Morgan Ellis and Greg Pateryn are the first-year pros expected to start the season on the farm.
The group grew by one on Thursday when forward Steve Quailer signed a two-year entry-level contract, forfeiting his final year of eligibility at Boston’s Northeastern University.
“It was always my intention to turn pro, but the deal was delayed because of all the changes in management,” said Quailer, whose four years at Northeastern were marred by a knee injury.
He missed the entire 2009-10 season and was limited to 26 games last season.
“I had problems with the same knee,” he said. “I stopped wearing my brace and I won’t make that mistake again.”
The 6-foot-4, 192-pound Quailer described himself as a power forward and said his goal is to win a spot with the Canadiens this fall.
“I bring some size, and that’s something this team doesn’t have a lot of,” said Quailer, who added he’s only a few courses short of a degree in sociology.
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