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Gallagher vs Pelech: a fight not to be missed on April 11

My boyfriend Georges won’t be proud of me this morning. Sorry big!

You know how it works in the NHL: you hit an opposing player solidly, you have to be ready to pay the price by defending your Internet speed your move illico. How do you do that? By throwing down the gloves and hitting the other player with your bare fists, of course.

Is the other guy 40 pounds heavier than you? That’s okay, it’s the code… even if the punch you just threw was legal according to NHL rules.

In short, you have the right to hand out big checks; you won’t be punished by a referee for doing so…

But you might be “punished” by the other team’s tough guy… and get hurt in turn.

Admittedly, the logic behind this principle doesn’t make much sense. Especially when NHL players and former players tell you that this code is used to avoid dirty hits, and therefore injuries. Goons are really little Gandhis on the ice…

Joking aside, the NHL still operates on the ice – and not in its rule books – according to the archaic principle of an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.

Let’s go back to January 2019, just before the pandemic.

The (very) small Paul Byron completed his check in the back of the net against MacKenzie Weegar. Byron (5’9 and 164 lbs.) hit Weeger (6’0 and 206 lbs.)… and the latter wasn’t really expecting it.

Theresult: Weegar missed a few games (due to what was a concussion if memory serves) and Byron, whose skates had left the ice before the assault, had to serve a three-game suspension. #DebtToPay #Punishment #Consequences

Except that there was also a second result as a consequence of the first:

Two months later, the Panthers and Canadiens faced off at the Bell Centre… and Paul Byron had to abide by the NHL code of honor. He threw down the gloves against Weegar, who weighed 42 pounds more than him that night. You’d never see that in the world of boxing or mixed martial arts, but on ice, on skates

What had to happen happened: Byron received a severe uppercut and in turn suffered a concussion. Seems that’s how hockey works (again). #EyeForEye #ToothForTooth

Although he always said he had no regrets about throwing down the gloves that night, Byron was never the same after that. He had a few interesting twitches in the spring of 2021, but that was his swan song… his last breath.

Why am I bringing you this story this morning?

Because I’m afraid that’s what’s going to happen on April 11 in New York.

Brendan Gallagher, whose elbow to Adam Pelech’s face currently earns him a five-game suspension and losses of about half a million dollars, is expected to be in the Habs lineup for this season-ending game.

If Pelech is able to recover from his current concussion, he should also play in this game. And you know what might happen…

Gallagher (5’9 and 183 lbs.) will most likely have to fight Pelech (6’3 and 210 lbs.). And it’s a safe bet that everyone will be on their feet when the two “pugilists ” start their little “dance”.

Gallagher has fought ten times since arriving in the NHL – mostly early in his career – but almost always against smaller players (except once at the chalet against Brady Tkachuk). Pelech, on the other hand, has thrown down the gloves against Josh Anderson, Alex Tuch, Michael Sgarbossa and plenty of guys 6’0 or taller.

“But that’s the code, Max. You have to respect it! Gallagher just didn’t have to hit him the same way!”

I’ll respond with the words used by Marc De Foy in 2019: there’s no honor behind this archaic code of honor. Gallagher will have already paid his debt when he returns from his suspension. And if anyone, anywhere, feels that five-game suspension and $500,000 in losses isn’t enough, let them advocate for the Department of Player Safety to stop protecting aggressors at the expense of its players, precisely. Not in favor of a fistfight between two guys of very unequal stature!

The code seems to serve – according to its defenders, at least – to reduce the number of injuries and unfortunate incidents. Except I wonder how Weegar’s K-O on Byron protected anyone in 2019. Just as I wonder how Gallagher’s potential brawl with Pelech is supposed to protect anyone in 2024.

Injuries have decreased in the QMJHL since fights have been punished more severely. The “code ” arguments just don’t hold water anymore.

Weegar may have repeated that Byron didn’t have to fight him in 2019, but he always acted as if he had to. And unfortunately, Gallagher seems to owe that to Pelech now.

In short, the stage is set for a Gallagher vs Pelech clash on April 11, alongside the Canadiens vs Islanders (St-Louis vs Roy) game. It’s like a boxing or UFCcard… but in a different sport. And the most hardened can already buy a ticket for this event via BPM Sports and its partner Voyages Gendron. Will you be there to see the fight in NYC?

Let’s hope that the two main parties involved come to their senses by then… and/or that Brendan Gallagher will still be the same guy when he wakes up on the morning of the 12th. He’s already not the same person he was six years ago today.

And don’t tell me that would solve a lot of problems, since he’d go on the LTIR and stop counting against the Habs payroll. Wishing a serious injury on someone else isn’t good karma.

In gusto

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