A Letter to Brendan Gallagher About Concussions

By Waldo 1947 | OSJ Staff | Montreal Canadiens Writer

Warning: If you are a Hockey Neanderthal who has ever uttered the phrase: “Back in my day, I hit my head all the time and nothing ever happened to me”, please do not read further. (You probably do not understand what neanderthal means anyways.)

Dear Gals, Galzie, Galler, or Gal-Dog,

Please take extra time in coming back from this injury. I see that you are skating already which is a great sign, but I implore you to use caution. Take it from a guy who knows what you are going through (post-concussion headaches) - it is not worth rushing back. You have nothing to prove when it comes to toughness or legacy or reputation. The entire hockey world talks about your grit, tenacity, determination, will, and toughness.

I know that you play through pain and that you would do anything for your teammates. Hell, I make sure that my own children emulate your work ethic. I make it a point to emphasize your leadership and desire when my family watches you play. You are also a huge role model for the smaller hockey player. You are living proof of the old adage, “It is the size of the fight in the dog, not the size of the dog in the fight”. It is for all of these reasons, and more, that you need to take your time.

You work in an alpha-environment where there is courage and honour in playing through pain. Fellow players, coaches and the media idolize guys with high pain tolerance. To make it worse, as a Hab, you have constant visual reminders of the men who came before you and the toughness that they had. Like the many who played for the Canadiens, you are called to “take the torch from failing hands, hold it with pride, and pass it to the next generation”. You have a rabid fan base that is itching for a sniff of the Cup and I know that you feel the pressure to deliver a championship to the city.

Yet it is that same rabid fan base that will demand you get traded the second your skills show the hint of declining. This city has booed the likes of Carey Price and Guy Lafleur. What will they do to you if you are mired in a goalless streak or show a depreciating skill set? And the great and historic franchise with all the “failing hands”? It will drop you like a bag of dirt when you no longer have the physical ability to perform at your best. Has this organization ever surrounded you with a talented center to feed you in the slot? (Talk about failing hands!) Loyalty is an admirable virtue in a husband, father, friend, and teammate, but the Montreal Canadiens are a business first. Think “show-business, not show-friend”.

You have given your heart, soul, body and brain to this team and its fan base. You have nothing to prove in terms of dedication and toughness. Concussions are no joke. Players before you that have rushed back from brain injuries are never the same. The anxiety, depression, and lower quality of life in these retired players is well documented and should help make your decision to take your time more palatable. Taking an extra month this season might even extend your career a few more years.

Get better soon (but do not rush),


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