Laraque, Nilan weigh in on Gallagher’s illegal headshot during Habs win over Islanders – Montreal

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Every hockey fan in town has an opinion on it.

Midway through the third period of Thursday night’s game against the Islanders, the Habs were up 3-1 when Brendan Gallagher was given a match penalty for an illegal hit to the head of New York defenceman Adam Pelech.

Gallagher has never been suspended in his 12-year career, but former NHL enforcers Chris Nilan and Georges Laraque both have been multiple times. They shared their opinions on the hit with Global News.

“I was surprised that it was Gallagher doing that,” Laraque said.

“This is out of character for Brendan,” Nilan said.

Though Gallagher is a hard-nosed player, he is not known as a headhunter. The speed of the game, however,  can lead to bad split-second choices.

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“It seemed like he came up because the guy was going to get behind him. He kind of reached up to make sure the guy didn’t get by him and got him right in the kisser,” Nilan said.

“It’s very fast, and sometimes in the blink of an eye, you make a mistake and you don’t mean it,” said Laraque. “It’s just a bad reflex, he has just to throw his elbow up to connect. I don’t think he meant it because it’s not his style.”


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NHL Player Safety announced it summoned Gallagher to a disciplinary hearing, leaving no doubt he will be suspended.

“I’m sure he regrets doing what he did, but that doesn’t change anything. I’m sure he’s going to get suspended,” Nilan said.

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“It’s the way it is,” Laraque said. “You have to punish those hits to the head.”

Given Gallagher is not a recidivist, the suspension is not expected to be long.

“Three games, probably. that’s my guess,” Laraque said.

“Two, maybe three tops,” Nilan predicted.


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Laraque said he believes the consequences for Gallagher won’t end with the suspension, saying he’ll likely be challenged to a fight next time the Habs meet Patrick Roy’s Islanders.

“He’s going to have to answer the bell next time he plays that team. I know not everyone agrees with the code, but there’s a code in the NHL,” Laraque explained.

“If you want to dance, you’ve got to pay the fiddler,” Nilan said.

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Though Gallagher’s major penalty allowed the Islanders to make a comeback, the Habs still won the game 4-3.

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