January 2, 2001
Back From Exile, Galley Helps Steady Islanders
By DAVE CALDWELL
UNIONDALE, N.Y., Jan. 1 Â Garry Galley is a 37-year-old defenseman
who has played more than 1,100 National Hockey League games, and the
Islanders signed him as a free agent in September because he could do
a lot of things. Watching games in street clothes from the press box
was not one of the things they had in mind.
Galley missed three games in November because of a concussion, and
because Coach Butch Goring judged him during two unproductive games
to be out of shape, Galley was a healthy scratch for four straight
Then the Islanders' other defensemen began to get hurt, and Goring
had to use Galley a lot.
"He's an old warrior," Goring said.
With defensemen Roman Hamrlik (groin) and Kenny Jonsson (knee) out
with injuries, Galley has become a crucial player in helping Goring
hold the Islanders' tattered season together.
Galley has played more minutes in the last five games than any other
Islander. He played a season-high 32 minutes 16 seconds in a 5-2
victory Friday over Atlanta, then followed it by playing a game-high
24:58 one night later in a 2-0 loss to Buffalo.
Now, Galley looks at his benching this way: "I guess you have to look
at it as if they're trying to help you to get back into shape to
play. You just have to do what it takes to be the best you can be for
The Islanders (11-20-4-2), who on Tuesday play Montreal (10-23-4-2)
in the finale of a disappointing seven-game homestand, have had a lot
of things go haywire this season.
If the growing "Mike Must Go!" chants are any indication, Islanders
fans generally don't like the decisions that General Manager Mike
Milbury has made. But his decision to sign Galley, and Goring's
decision to bench Galley for four games, are two things that have
"He's responded," Goring said, "which we expected him to."
Galley's attitude may have something to do with the fact that the
rest of the Islanders seem to be clutching at their optimism. This is
an injury-ravaged team that has built only one winning streak this
season, and that came two months ago.
But Goring has noticed a slight improvement in the way the players
feel about themselves in recent weeks. Not coincidentally, Dave
Scatchard, a 24-year- old center, says he has noticed that Galley
has "taken control of the room" Â hockey talk for becoming more vocal
when the team retreats to its dressing room.
"He's just given us something to count on," Scatchard said. "Garry is
a total and true team player. He's had such a positive attitude, no
matter what has happened. Right now, with all the adversity we've
been facing, he's been a great person to have around."
The losses are difficult for veterans like Galley and John
Vanbiesbrouck, the 37- year-old goaltender who is playing much better
than his 6-14-4 record. But Mariusz Czerkawski, the 28-year-old right
wing who is the closest thing to a superstar the Islanders have, said
Galley and Vanbiesbrouck have tried harder to keep the team from
losing its way.
"They've been through a lot, and when they talk, people listen,"
Galley, who has played for seven teams in his 17 N.H.L. seasons, has
scored two of his four goals this season in the Islanders' last five
games. Both came when he crashed the net to sweep in rebounds, and
both gave the Islanders the lead in the first two minutes.
"Anybody thrives when they get more ice time," Galley said, "and Mike
brought me in for this specific reason. This is my opportunity to
step in and help out."
Galley's value has recently become much more apparent. The losses of
Hamrlik, who may return Tuesday, and Jonsson, out for two or three
more weeks, could have been devastating. The Islanders might have
lost all six games in the homestand so far, instead of only winning
Galley's playing time will probably be trimmed back when Hamrlik and
Jonsson return. But Goring, the man who benched him, said Galley has
provided his younger teammates with a lesson during another tough
"He's really given our team a big lift," Goring said. "They watch how
hard the guy plays, and how committed he is."