Gary Bettman recently indicated that January 1 is still the date considered to revive the activities of the NHL. Is this wishful thinking or an achievable wish?
Difficult to say in the face of the pandemic which is slow to run out of steam. However, behind the scenes at the Bell Center, we are preparing as if this date had been cast in stone.
“We would like to start the next season at the beginning of 2021. It is certain that it is first and foremost the safety and health of all that count. But I believe that if the NHL asks us to organize a season in Montreal, it is certain that we will be able to do it with the collaboration of all. I am convinced of it, ”said France Margaret Bélanger.
The Executive Vice-President, Chief Commercial Officer of Groupe CH, made the statement Tuesday evening on the sidelines of the second edition of the 911 Hockey Night, a charity event aimed at supporting critical care at the Montreal General Hospital.
Even if the virtual evening took place under the theme of Emergencies in the playoffs, and that Shea Weber, Brendan Gallagher and Nick Suzuki as well as coaches Claude Julien and Kirk Muller were the guests, it is above all the intervention of Ms. Bélanger who caught the attention.
Was she alluding to the possibility of Montreal being retained as a bubble city by the circuit authorities? Difficult to say since it was impossible to relaunch it on this statement.
Rotating bubble towns, games behind closed doors or with spectators? In this regard, Ms. Bélanger indicated that all the scenarios have already been considered and that a game plan has already been established for each of them.
“We will respect the rules that will be put in place by the health authorities, but we would like to welcome supporters as quickly as possible”, she wished.
“We will be ready, that’s for sure. We already have contingency plans. Whether for a small number of supporters, 4000, 5000 or 21,302 spectators. We will have many measures in terms of health and safety. We have plans in which sections of the Bell Center would only be accessible to groups who would be seated in these sections so that people do not cross paths in the corridors, ”she listed.
Work to be done
In the Bell Center offices, everyone seems ready. All that remains is for the players to follow suit. And when the NHL and government officials give them the signal to kick off, they’ll have to get down to business quickly.
“The challenge will be great. Usually it takes time to acclimatize to a new environment. With the season shortened, we won’t have time to waste. We will have a lot of work to do to integrate all these new faces ”, suggested Gallagher.
Speaking of newcomers, many are eager to see if Alexander Romanov will live up to the expectations, which seem increasingly high for him.
You can never be sure until you see an athlete in action. This does not prevent Gallagher from being unequivocal about the rookie.
“He’s good and strong. No one realizes how strong he is. He will have an impact within the team. He’s hungry, he wants to play in the NHL. In the bubble, he worked tirelessly even though he knew he wouldn’t play. We all noticed it. And, physically, he is ready. “
Gallagher still has all his teeth
Playoff emergencies. Obviously, the theme of Tuesday’s evening alluded to the various misadventures the Canadian experienced during the few weeks he spent in Toronto.
From the heart discomfort of Claude Julien to the injuries of Brendan Gallagher, the elimination course of the Habs was not trivial.
“I was injured right off the bat,” said Gallagher, referring to the tear to my hip in the first round. Since I had to get out of the bubble for x-rays, I had to put on a full protective suit. It was quite a unique experience. ”
The fiery attacker was not at the end of his troubles. The streak in which he received a double check from Matt Niskanen in the face was remarkable. As much for the severity of the blow as for the reaction of the Albertan.
His mouth bloodied, he did not stop cursing the Flyers players. Not without having first enlivened the officials. A reaction that Alain Vigneault did not fail to stress the next day, at the same time questioning the severity of Gallagher’s injury.
“As soon as I received the blow, I knew something was wrong with my teeth. But I had to make sure to let the referees know that I was furious, ”said the 28-year-old athlete, smirking.
Almost three months after suffering a jaw fracture, he claims to have very few after-effects from this mishap.
“I consider myself lucky. I still have all my teeth. However, some are dying. ”
Despite the pain
He did admit that his jaw sometimes hurts in the morning, especially in gloomy weather. Which is nothing, he said, compared to the hand he was broken on two occasions.
“I know when it’s going to snow. I feel pain. Besides, I’ll never be able to regain full motor skills in my hand, but I can hold my pole. ”
Gallagher said he was always tough on his body. Even during his rise in minor hockey. However, he does not hide that Josh Gorges, who hosted him when he arrived with the Canadiens, and Brian Gionta inspired him to ignore the pain.
“There is a difference between being hurt and being in pain. The tolerance threshold for pain is different from one individual to another. I remember seeing Georgy being unable to walk around the house and Gionta being bruised all over the place. It didn’t stop them from playing. I think when you show that you can fight pain, you gain a lot of respect from your teammates. ”
And that of the supporters.