The Josh Gorges trade early this summer was uncomfortable. It was uncomfortable for fans, teammates and Gorges himself. The rumours which eventually proved true, were not well-recieved by many Canadiens fans. More importantly, this trade acted as a strong example of how difficult this league can be.
The grind, the struggle and the work the best players put in can be interrupted without warning. Careers can take turns, for better or for worse, and there is often nothing players can do about it. The moving from city to city with families and the changing of faces is something every player signs up for when he enters the league. But that doesn’t make any of it easier.
When you talk about growing a player up through the team system and taking the time to help him unlock his full potential, you talk about Josh Gorges. His is an example of a player who started from the bottom and blossomed into a star.
In the minds of many, he was a major part in the Canadiens’ pursuit of a 25th Stanley Cup that now seems close enough to taste.
Josh Gorges, undrafted, started out with the Montreal in 2007 after being acquired from the Sharks. He began as a bottom pair/seventh defesneman to whom no one was paying attention. He obviously showed something to the team early in his career that they wanted to pull out of him. Credit to the group who brought him here and kept him here, and credit to Gorges for working his way up to being an elite shutdown defenseman and winning over the heart of Montreal.
Trades happen all the time — even to star players. What makes this one hard to accept, is Gorges’ emotional connection to the team and city. We the fans, were already saddened by the news of the trade, but our hearts were ripped out when we heard just how surprised and upset he was as well.
Gorges matured into a leader and potential future captain of the Montreal Canadiens. He bled “bleu, blanc et rouge”. He was a key player in the task of developing and maturing those younger than him.
One future leader on this team that he helped is Brendan Gallagher. At 22, he was living with the Gorges family. Many young prospects who crack their team’s roster move in with a veteran on the team. Sidney Crosby moved in with Mario Lemieux, Sean Couturier moved in with Daniel Briere and Nathan MacKinnon lives with Jean-Sebastien Giguere. The people they move in with are usually a huge influence on them and how they mature. Gallagher plays like Gorges: heart and soul, hustle, sacrifice and passion. Gallagher has long had these qualities no doubt, but having a mentor like Gorges to learn from certainly didn’t hurt.
Gallagher spoke with Dave Stubbs of The Montreal Gazette yesterday, about having to find new housing for the coming season.
“I don’t know where I’m going to be next year. I guess I have to move out on my own and start taking care of myself. I can’t thank Josh enough for everything he did for me. It says a lot about who he is, for two years taking me in and teaching me every single day.”
When asked whether he left a good impression on Josh Gorges and his wife Maggie, Gallagher joked to Stubbs, “Yes. In their couch.”
The Gorges home was in Brossard, an area just south of the island of Montreal. On where he will live next year, Gallagher told Stubbs, “Brossard is just a short drive to the practice rink. But in my first year alone I’ll have to learn to cook. So if it’s no good, I’m going to be eating out a lot and downtown has more restaurants.”
Where ever the 22 year old Gallagher ends up, he has learned a great deal from Josh Gorges. The Canadiens organization owes him a lot.