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Thursday, January 2, 2020

Lost Rookies: 1986-87 OPC Gerard Gallant

  Gerard Gallant was one of Steve Yzerman's bodyguards during the late 80s and early 90s.  He scored 30+ goals and 200+ PIM in four straight seasons.  He set career highs with 39 goals and 93 points in 1988.  It was good enough for Gerard to be named as a NHL's 2nd Team All-Star.
  During Gerard's second season, 1985-86, Dirk Graham broke Gerard's jaw in a fight.  Gallant missed six weeks and returned to play wearing a football-style hockey helmet.  The same season, Gallant was involved in another serious injury, as he accidentally stepped on Borje Salming's face with his skate.  After the stitches, Salming look like an evil mastermind from a spy movie, feline and all.
  Gallant's career took off after he was put on a line with Steve Yzerman in 1986, which coincided with Gallant's four straight 30 goal seasons.  He was one of the top left wingers in the NHL as the 1980s came to a close.  In November of 1990, Gallant suffered a back injury.  This injury curtailed Gallant's career.  The injury resurfaced throughout the rest of Gallant's career.  His offensive production declined and he lost his spot on Yzerman's wing.
  The Red Wings did not make a contract offer to Gallant in 1993, making him a free agent.  Gallant signed with the Tampa Bay Lightening.  Back injuries continued to nag Gallant as he only scored 13 points and 74 PIM in 51 games with the Lightening in 1993-94.  The following season, Gallant only played one game in the NHL.  Gallant was determined to continue playing and returned to Detroit, this time as a member of the Detroit Vipers of the IHL.  Only 3 games into the season, Gallant re-injured his back.  This was finally enough for Gallant to retire.
  During his career, Gallant had 211 goals, 480 points and 1674 PIM in 615 career games.  He also had 9 Gordie Howe Hat Tricks, including four in 1987-88.  Although today, he is best known as a NHL coach.  In 2018 he coached the expansion team the Vegas Golden Knights to the Stanley Cup Finals.  He won the Jack Adams trophy as the best NHL coach in 2018.
  Gallant's rookie card was part of the 1987-88 OPC set.  Normally, I wouldn't do a Lost Rookie for a player who had a RC with the same team during their first three seasons, but the image of Gallant wearing his football-style helmet makes a good picture on cardboard.  I did a 86-87 Lost Rookie instead of a 85-86 since the fight and broken jaw happened during the 85-86 season and thus wouldn't show up until the 86-87 set.

1986-87 OPC #276 Gerard Gallant (RC)

1986-87 OPC #276 Gerard Gallant (RC)

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