The Kiss Heard ‘Round The Sports World

Pairing- Alex Galchenyuk/Brendan Gallagher Past- Alex Galchenyuk/Nail Yakupov and Alex Galchenyuk/Chanel Leszczynski

It was just another game, sure PK was back in Bell Centre after his trade to Nashville last summer and it was an emotional night.  Any time you reduce a hockey player to tears is an emotional night.

It had been several games since Brendan last scored a goal, and he’s hungry for it.  Nothing would be sweeter than getting a goal tonight since he is on Alex’s line.  Claude had been trying to find ways to gain offense, and Alex and Brendan would love nothing more to prove that they worthy of being linemates again.  Alex wins a key faceoff in the 3rd and the puck lands on Brendan’s stick.  He’s off to the races and dumps the puck in the zone and successfully chases after it.  Brendan passes the puck back to Alex and Alex gets it back to Brendan, and it hits the back of the net, SCORE!  Le But is going off after the horn sounds.  What happens next seems to occur in slow motion for him.

Brendan does his celly until Alex checks him into the boards.  They lock eyes and Alex mashes his lips onto Brendan’s.  For 1/10th of a second, everyone could see them until the rest of the line piles in from their various positions on the ice.  For a couple that has been keeping secrets for so long, this exhibit of PDA is unheard of.  With 9:45 left in the 3rd, they know they are going to have to answer for their kiss, but the happiness of scoring has dominated their minds. When Byron seals the deal with his empty-net goal in the last minute, Alex and Brendan’s’ minds snap back to reality.

After the pair shuffle into the locker room, the cooing and chirping starts.  Patch started it all with “Nice smooching there Gallys, gonna do it again just to celly the win?  We didn’t get a good enough view the first time.”

Alex complies as he cups Brendan’s face.  More cooing ensues!

“How ‘bout that smooch there Chuck?”  Nate looks at Alex questioningly.

Alex looks back sheepishly, “Was nice, I love Gally so fucking much!”

Everything is all fun and games until coach marches into the room.  The look on his face silences the room which would normally be overly happy with the win.

Claude finds his way back into the locker room, “Chucky, Gally my office now please!”  The coach growls out to a full room.  Everyone in the room knows what this meeting is about, and they hope to hell they are wrong about its outcome.

Alex and Brendan look slightly stunned at coach’s grumble.  Hockey is for Everyone month just ended, and even Shaw said that the Gallys make the cutest couple ever.  The team has been so supportive of them and even the coach knows that.

Alex and Brendan walk into Claude’s office with their heads down and stone cold silent, ashen faces.  “Before you try to explain that stunt, do you two realize what you just did?”

Alex looks at the floor, “Sorry coach, the emotion of Gally’s goal just got to me, I couldn’t help my…”

“Alex, look, you have nothing to be sorry for.  I’m only having this meeting right now to tell you that this will be discussed tomorrow at practice with the PR department.  Marc and I have already talked about this, we need a plan to craft a narrative.  Be ready tomorrow!  Just for the record, I’m on your side, I just want to be ahead of the shit storm you two may have just started.”

Brendan removes his eyes from the floor giving Alex a surprised look, Alex looks like he’s still counting carpet tiles.  “Thanks coach,” the pair mutters out and takes their leave to shower and change.  If they thought facing the coach was going to be bad, they were sorely mistaken.  The team is about to be much much worse.

After a solid 20 minutes of supportive chirping and cooing from the team, while they remove their hockey gear, Alex and Brendan head off to the showers to clean the game grime off them.  The team already had plans to take the happy couple out and celebrate their coming out.  After a fair bit of drinking, the pair catches a cab back to Alex’s condo and passes out.

Brendan and Alex wake up the next morning with a lovely hangover, almost forgetting that they have to be at practice early to meet with Marc Bergevin, Coach Julien, and Mr. Beauchamp from the PR department.

They arrive at Brossard with 5 minutes to spare before their meeting and take a fleeting moment to kiss each other good luck.  They grab their gear bags and sprint to their meeting.

Marc begins, “Alex, Brendan I want you to know that the Canadiens organization supports you 100%.  You two are very important to this organization.  I just want you to know that.  Last night, you two essentially came out of the closet.  I don’t think that anyone really noticed, but we are having this meeting just to make sure there won’t be any surprises, Monsieur Beauchamp…”

“Merci Monsieur Bergevin.  Gentlemen, the Canadiens organization will not formally make any comment confirming or denying your relationship without your consent.  What are players do off the ice is of no importance to us.  If you want to be out of the closet publically, I have no problem with it.  We are going to ask some personal questions of you now; this is just to make sure that there is nothing in your past that would reflect negatively on the team.”

Alex and Brendan let out a collective sigh then slouch in their chairs indicating with their body language that they know they are going to be here a long time.

Mr. Beauchamp continues, “So let us start with the beginning, Take me back to the beginning, and I don’t mean the beginning of your relationship.  Take me back to the first person you ever came out to up until you two started playing on the same team.”

Brendan lets out a long sigh.  He needed a deep breath to calm his nerves a little.  A game presents its own nerves, this story has raised his heart rate until he hears his own heart beating.

I came out to my family just before I started playing in juniors.  Just like every other gay athlete, I struggled with the concept of being gay and playing sports.  Knowing that there was a high likelihood that I was going to be drafted into the NHL, I kept things very quiet.  I didn’t want to risk my chances of making it to the pro leagues.

I didn’t tell anyone my secret the entire time I was in juniors.  I would hook up with some random guy from time to time, but they never knew completely who I was.  I doubt any of them were even hockey fans and would recognize me.

I got drafted in 2010 as all of you know.  I wasn’t picked very high, but I was picked nonetheless.  After training camp, I was sent to Hamilton with a bunch of my draft mates.  I kept my secret that very first season, and the second one too.  I didn’t come out to any teammate until my first year as a Hab.  That was the same year I got to play with Nate and Alex.  I quickly made friends with Nate, he was always so approachable and we meshed almost instantly.

Just before the end of training camp, I came out to Nate.  I took him to lunch one day on the road before a preseason game.

“So Gally, thanks for lunch, you sounded like there was something serious you wanted to tell me.  So tell me, eh?”  Nate starts out looking concerned.

“Well Nate, I am glad to call you one of my friends.  With my stature, I need all the friends on the ice I can find.”

“Brendan, stop chewing around the edges, what’s up?”  Nate’s lack of using his nickname made Brendan understand that Nate knows Brendan is in serious mode.  It’s rare when it happens, but Brendan’s serious side is opposite to his normal attitude.

“Well, you notice how I never pick up when we go out as a team right?”

“I figured you just focused on trying to make the team, we ALL are trying to make the team.”

“Trust me I’d love to make the team, but I have a secret that might fuck all that up.”  Brendan now looks at the floor.

“Gally?”

“I’m gay, Nate.  I like guys.  I know that isn’t well received in our sport.”

“Brendan, I’m glad you told me.  I don’t care who you love as long as you stay you.  I love being around my sunny little ray of sunshine on this team.”

Not long after that, Nate was sent back down to Hamilton.

Brandon Prust was the next to learn my secret, probably not a shock since he was given the task of mentoring me.  I didn’t actually tell him, he figured it out.  One day, Brandon and Alex were play fighting outside the locker room at Brossard for an upcoming episode of 24CH.  I was in the locker room watching everything unfold.  When Brandon and Alex stopped, Brandon had noticed that my eyes were watching with a very lustful look on my face.

“Gally you can stop checking me out, I’m straight.” Brandon offered.

“Prusty, your ugly mug would only be considered attractive if it were shoved in a pillow.”

“Fuck you Gally!  I have women beating down my door to get up on this!  So let’s get back to what you just admitted to.”

“I didn’t admit to fucking shit, Prusty!

“Oh young padawan you did, you just admitted that you like Alex.”

“Alex is a great friend of mine and my road roomie, I do like him.”

“No Gally, you don’t just like him, you liiikkkkkeeee him!”

“Can we have this conversation somewhere else?”

“Nope, we’re having it here and now whether you like it or not.”  Brandon leans in and whisper, “so are you gay or bi and don’t tell me it’s something else cause there clearly is something going with you and Chucky.”

“Gay, Brandon” Brendan whispers back.

The two go back to normal stances, “Well Gally if someone disses your ass, tell me and I’ll end their career!”

What I didn’t know at the time was that Alex was standing behind me in a corner of the locker room and was redder than our sweaters.

Alex and I ended up making the cut and joined our team when the lockout ended.  We were the only rookies that ended up staying on the team and became roommates.  It was nice to make a friend, we bickered like an old married couple, but it was nice to have someone walking in the same shoes as you.

Alex lived with his mom that season in Montreal and I was with Josh Gorges, so our time together was usually limited road trips.  On the road, we played video games a lot usually with takeout food.  It was a shortened season, but by the time it was over, we were incredibly close friends.  I missed him a lot that first summer.

When our second season came, we were both much more assured that we would stay up with the Habs.  We still roomed together on the road which made the trips a lot less lonely.  We actually started hanging out at home more too, since Alex’s mother insisted that I get a homemade meal every once in a while.  I never had to be anyone other than myself around Alex.  We developed a very close bond, often ending up on the same line on the ice.

About the middle of that year we started dating.  It still feels just like it happened yesterday.

“So Chuck, when are you going to kiss me?”

“And why would I do that Gally?”

“Because I’m about to be the best boyfriend anyone has ever had,”

“Wait, boyfriend?  Are you telling me that you’ve developed feelings for me?”

“Wow Chuck, you must be blind!  No wonder you can’t see the puck when Prusty passes it to you!”

“Fuck you, Brendan!  I see just fine!  I’ve seen the way you look at me.  You look at me like I hung the moon in the sky.  Every time I see you, I get this warm fuzzy sensation in my chest.  I really have grown quite fond of you.”

“Fond, what are you 80, Alex?”

“What people don’t say fond anymore?”

“Well come here you big lump, kiss me already.”

The events of the rest of that evening are not suitable for work.

That was the first off-season that we actually spent some of the offseason together.  I had to introduce him to my family.  I told my family before we flew back to Vancouver that I had met someone and that I was bringing him home to meet them.  You can imagine their shock when I stepped into the waiting area with Alex.

We got off the plane and out to the meeting area outside the terminal security checkpoint.  My parents Della and Ian were waiting for us.

“Brendan, welcome hom…”  my mom started with a shocked look on her face and an inability to finish her sentence.  She took a moment to compose herself, then a couple of steps over to hug Alex, “It’s so good to see you Alex.  So Brendan, let’s get home we apparently have a lot to talk about.”

We got home and discussed our budding relationship.  My parents have always been supportive of me.   They also love Alex which made things a lot easier on both of us.

Josh was traded that summer which made me homeless so to speak so Alex and I made a pact that we were going to purchase separate apartments for the following season.  It made things easier from a publicity standpoint.  We were good friends already so it wasn’t hard to envision that we would spend evenings at each other’s houses during the season.  We each kept a small wardrobe at both places so that we didn’t have to carry overnight bags when we chose to sleep over.  We also decided that we would be sure that our apartments had spare rooms, so when one of us stayed the night we could just brush it off as we were drinking and being responsible.

Everything was fine until Alex sensed that something might become public that would destroy us.

I had a feeling I was bisexual since I was just turning into my teenage years. I liked a lot of girls, and I had the same feelings for guys. It was a very confusing time for me. I had no idea what it meant. At the time I was living in Russia, and I knew that liking guys would not be a prudent move, so I shoved that part of me deep down and ignored it for a long time. I didn’t tell my parents about what I was feeling, at the time it wasn’t important. Anna sensed something was going on, but she too ignored it.

A couple of years later, I moved out of Russia when I went off to juniors and became a member of the Sarnia Sting. Coming to Canada helped me become a little more comfortable with liking guys and girls. I dated both during my time at the sting.

I met Nail Yakupov during my time on the Sting. He was the first ever person to find out my sexuality on any team I ever played for. We were on the road one night and Nail and I ended up in the same room. I was almost asleep when Nail came in intoxicated from a night out with our teammates. Nail stumbled into my bed next to me, then rolled over and kissed me. I laid there frozen for a moment.

To say that breakfast the following morning was awkward would have been an understatement. Nail had a nasty hangover, and was acting as if he never kissed me. Since I was awake before him, he wasn’t even aware that we even shared a bed.

I would have brushed that off as a one-time drunken instance, but then the following road trip he and I ended up sleeping in the same bed. As far as I remember neither one of us had anything to drink that night, but we did kiss again along with other things that I won’t share here. We never did form a romantic relationship during our time on the Sting, but if we couldn’t pick up and needed to blow off steam, we would hookup.

Once I joined the Canadiens, Brandon Prust had taken me under his wing. He took me out to lunch one day after practice.

“Chucky, listen I read everyone on this team, and I know all their secrets. I know there is a teammate that you really like.”

“If you mean Gally, you need to call Ms. Cleo again. We room together cause the Habs make us. Under normal circumstances, I can’t stand the pest.”

“Well Chuck,” Alex winces at the nickname, “Once you get past that Russian stoic hard homophobic exterior, let’s chat.”

“American! Asshole! I’m American and I’ve never been a homophobe.”

“Whatever Chuck, chisel off the ice so we can have a real conversation.”

“What do you want to talk about?”

“You know that fight we had on camera for 24CH right?”

“Yeah, I won really!”

“Like hell you did, but Brendan and I had a chat and you were blushing in the corner and don’t deny it. Nate and Patch told me all about it!”

“Did this conversation have something to do with Gally and I?”

“It did in more than one way.”

“He loves me doesn’t he?”

“Great job Chucky! I didn’t even have to prompt you too hard!”

“I’ve had feelings for him for a while, just haven’t really found the right opportunity to express it to him.”

“Why not?”

“’Cause I didn’t know if he felt the same thing I did.”

As Brendan just eluded to it, the week after that lunch date with Prusty, we were on the road when Brendan decided to make his move.

After I moved away from my parent’s house in Montreal and got my own condo, I felt like we were being watched more. The potential to destroy our careers was becoming a hazard and I wasn’t ready to handle it. I had gotten a couple of threatening letters. One of them demanded money or they would disclose that Brendan and I were dating. I did what I thought what was best for us, so I got a beard. Once Brendan’s hand injury happened, I started dating Chanel to cover up our relationship. In retrospect, it was the biggest mistake I ever made!

Mr. Beauchamp listened to both sides of the story with great interest.

“Alex,” Mr. Beauchamp starts. “We remember the end of the Chanel story when it showed up in the papers. The last straw was your birthday if I recall. Take me through your relationship with her. If anything above all others, this might come back up again.”

Alex slouches even further in his chair. If he were to sink any lower, he’d probably fall on the floor. He sucks in a deep breath and looks at Brendan sitting to his right with his hand firmly in Brendan’s grasp even though it went sweaty and clammy about 10 minutes ago. He doesn’t really want to remember this part of his life, nor does he want to have to relive it now. The verbal abuse, the physical abuse, the pain it inflicted on Brendan and his relationship.

“I received a letter one day that had threatened to expose the relationship between Brendan and I, they had demanded millions of dollars to keep it quiet. I wasn’t ready to be out to the public at large, even though Brendan urged us to do so. Even with ‘You Can Play’, there really isn’t a welcoming parade for people like Brendan and I, even though I know more of us exist around the league. They say 1 in 10 right?

“I met Chanel one night at a club when we went out with the team after Brendan and broken his hand. I told him that I had planned on picking up a fake girlfriend and initially he was apprehensively supportive of my decision.

“I would take Chanel out a couple of nights a week when our schedules aligned. I made sure that we got our pictures taken where ever we went. Chanel as a model and me as a professional hockey player were sure to draw press wherever we went. I never made my intentions clear to Chanel, but for a short time, everything was fine.

“About a month into our for want of a better term ‘relationship’, Chanel was wondering why she was never invited to my condo for the night. I bought myself a month by telling her that it was being renovated, there were pictures of Brendan and I all over my condo. She would then offer that we could go to her place, I would then make excuses about having a game or practice and needing to get to bed early. I could sense frustration was coming from her.

“Convincing Brendan my plan was still a good idea, he said that I should probably spend the night at her place a couple of times just for appearance’s sake. Trying to find reasons not to have sex with her was another story altogether. Brendan did advise me that charade should only last another couple of weeks. Feelings on Chanel’s side might cause problems.

“I slept over a couple of times, telling her that I had strict religious beliefs that I couldn’t have sex outside of marriage. She grudgingly accepted that and yet again I bought myself some time. Within a few days of that conversation, the verbal assaults started when she started getting jealous of any woman that walked within 2 feet of me.

“I bought her a seat to the game, not realizing that her seat was in the same location as many of the other WAGs from the team. I gave her a t-shirt with my number in hopes that she would get caught on camera. We lost and I didn’t play my best that night. In retrospect, I was distracted as to what was occurring in the stands. Dinner that night was an argument about my lack of hockey skills that night by Chanel. We went home separately.

“Brendan started practicing with the team again in December, and I was so happy to have him back in Montreal. We wanted to catch up on each other from being away so long. I called and canceled my date with Chanel, which started an argument over the phone.

“Brendan heard all the voicemails that she left me. He told me to call off the relationship and just let us come out of the closet. This prompted an argument with Brendan where he stormed out of my condo and went back to his. We barely spoke on the ice and we almost broke up over the incident. I kept us together by the grace of promising that we would come out in a big way, I wasn’t sure when we’d do it, but that we would make sure everyone knew. Brendan and I started talking again and sharing rooms on the road again.

“I spent less time with Chanel over the following 2 months, which lead to a level of jealousy I haven’t seen from her before. I don’t know how Nate found out about her, but he invited her to my birthday party. The party was at my condo, keeping in mind that there are pictures of Brendan and I sharing intimate moments everywhere. I was not aware she was invited. Nate though Chanel was one of Anna’s model friends. Since Anna knew the situation, he was sure that since Anna knew so did all of her friends or at least be tolerant of a gay relationship.

“Chanel turned up that night, Brendan was hanging off me. Just as she found me, Brendan had just planted a romantic kiss on me. Every other attendee cooed us, Chanel punched me square in the face. Mr Beauchamp, I’m sure you remember the rest of the story from here. I don’t want to relive the rest of that moment.”

Mr. Beauchamp looked up from the legal pad where he had been writing furious notes, “Yes, Alex that is enough of that. I remember how the rest of the story goes. It took quite a lot of cover-up work in the press to keep your relationship with Brendan under wraps at that time.”

Marc Bergevin has been keeping a poker face through the entire meeting up until this point, “So boys is there anything else the organization needs to know.”

Alex looks at Brendan, and the stare is returned with a look that said, “should we?” Alex nodded. Brendan turned to look at the two gentlemen in suits and said, “Well we need to tell you what happened in Vancouver last summer.”

Alex feels like he’s about to explode.  “Brendan and I flew together back to Vancouver after our season ended.  We had intended to spend part of the summer there and the rest of the summer at my condo in Miami and spend time with my family.  Besides visiting with Brendan’s family, I had found out who was trying to blackmail Brendan and me.

“Chucky, I can’t believe you got a beard and I don’t mean that whole werewolf thing you have going on your face.  I thought my message might have really worked.”  The man with black hair and a black beard appeared from behind the couple at baggage claim.

“You know as much as anyone that you can’t make a horse drink when brought to water.”

“I see your English is still a little fleeting there Chucky, that phrase is ‘you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.’”

“Fuck you asshole, it meant the same thing.”

“True that brother.”

“Brother? Last time I checked no one in the league would have your ass there Prusty.”

“Well Chucky and Gally, I was really hoping my little letter would finally get you guys to cement things.”

Alex leaves Brendan to find the bags, and turns to leave very little personal space between himself and Prust and clenched his jaw, “It fucking scared me!  I thought I was going to lose my career, I thought I was going to lose the love of my life! WE,” pointing between himself and Brendan, “thought it was best if I had a girlfriend to give us plausible deniability.”

Prust steps in a little cautiously with the same clenched jaw, “I watched that relationship tear you up Chucky.  The league is a lot more accepting than you think.  Besides, your team will take care of you.  Pricey, Patch, and Beau already told me that they know about you and couldn’t give a crap.  If you have Patch, the rest of the team will follow him I know it.  Montreal’s gay village is part of the pride of the city, do something to show them that the Canadiens can be part of their world too.”

Brendan has their bags and comes into the conversation with a patented Gallagher grin, “I have a feeling a lot of things are going to change this summer.  That mess with Chanel made us really think about things.”

Prust smiles for the first time, Gally’s enthusiasm is infectious.  “My rental’s outside, shall I be your chauffeur?  Brendan’s parents sent me as the welcoming party.”

Alex finally relaxes off his haunches, “Show us the way, be nice to actually have you do something nice for us for a change.”

“Thanks, Chuck the least I could do for freaking you out last summer, truce?”

“Truce, Prusty.”

Brendan wakes up the next morning to find Alex on the Phone

“So yeah how would you guys like to play a game against my bros?”

Brendan watches as Alex listens to the person speaking on the other end of the phone.

“Alright, we’re game, let me call my friends and we will meet on the ice next week.”

Alex turns to Brendan, “We’re going to play against The Cutting Edges.  I got Prusty, Beau, Ovi, Backy, Kaner, Tazer, Duncs, Seabs, Pricey, and Drouin to play with us, I thought it would be nice if we showed a little solidarity between the NHL and some of the gay leagues around Canada you know?  The Cutting Edges are also using it as a fundraiser for a homeless shelter for gay youth here in Vancouver.”

“I agree, will be nice to play where we can… wait all those NHLer’s besides our team know about us right?”

“Yes, Brendan they know about us.  Come to think of it some of them are just like us.”

“Let me guess Kane, Toews, Duncs, Seabs, and Jo?”

“Umm… you left out two.”

“Not Beau and Prusty for sure, so that leaves Ovechkin and Backstrom?”

“Wish I could have talked the Benn and Seguin into this, but Seggy is off on a Zamboni naked somewhere tempting Jamie by seductively eating a popsicle.  Anyway, you were saying?”

“I was about to say that it will be nice to play with ‘us’ friendly foes.  Wait… Seggs is naked on a Zamboni and I don’t have pictures of this on Instagram.  That boy is naked everywhere.”

“Jamie won’t let him anymore.”

“So when are you going to seductively eat a popsicle naked in front of me?”

“That’ll be never Gally!  You’ll just have to live with me using your dick like a popsicle.”

“No objection there!”

Alex goes back to making calls to get the team arranged for the impromptu game.

“Our dream team is set, they’ll be up tomorrow to practice.”

Back to the meeting at hand

So we played our game against the Cutting Edges.  We raised $30,000 for the homeless shelter which each player in the game turned around and matched that money.  It was an awesome night for the gay community for Vancouver.

We were really excited after the game and it might have been the adrenaline from the game or the fact that we were amongst friends, but the love Gally and I share went a step further that night.

After the game with the Cutting Edges

“Great game everyone and thank you for making matching contributions, the Cutting Edges organization managed to raise $300,000 total for a homeless shelter for gay youth in Vancouver.  I have one last thing to do before I let you all back loose on the off-season.”

Alex takes a small box out of his suit coat and walks over to Brendan and gets on one knee.

“Brendan Adam Matthew Gallagher, since I joined the Habs you have filled my life with experiences that I couldn’t have ever imagined possible.  You have challenged my patience and probably made me do things that I would not have done with anyone else.  I can’t imagine my life without you ever.  I love you with all my heart, will you marry me?”

“Of course, I’ll marry you, even with that grumpy hard to crack exterior.”

Back to the meeting in Montreal

Marc begins, “so that explains your many objections to being traded. Alex.  I knew that you and Brendan were close and I’ll admit I had my suspicions, but now I understand your motives for wanting to stay in Montreal.  Things are going to be tight in free agency because I need to build a stronger defense line, Markov is asking for a long contract worth a small fortune, I want to keep him and his experience here.  Alex, I will work with Stan to make sure you get a fair contract, but I’m going to be expecting more from you if you want to be re-signed.

Let us talk about your wedding, you and Brendan can make a big impact and improve our relationship with the gay community here in Montreal.  The Habs would like you to get married here at Bell Centre and use the proceeds from it to make a substantial donation to ‘You Can Play’.  Would you let us do that?”

Brendan looks at Alex, both men know that they are trying to let things be private about their upcoming nuptials.  Finally, Brendan breaks the bad news to Marc, “Marc as much as that is a tempting offer, we made an agreement that we will have a private wedding ceremony.  I know that doesn’t fit with your plan here, but I think we might be able to do a few things to foster the connection you desire.

“Alex and I have talked about coming out publicly.  With Mr. Beauchamp’s help, we could get on a sports talk show or do an interview for one of the gay magazines.  Maybe we can even get our families involved as part of it, so the whole story is told.”

“Ok then Alex and Brendan, we’ll work on your coming out during the offseason that way it won’t be a distraction during the season,” Mr. Beauchamp concludes.  The meeting ends with Alex and Brendan headed to practice.

Fast forward to July 1st.

“Your play also isn’t what I expect of you, so here is my proposal.  I am going to cut your base pay so that you don’t generate a large cap charge.  I want you to be thirsty on the ice, so what I am going to do is incentivize your performance.  If you give me a 30 goal season I will give you a $500,000 bonus, if you get 35 goals we’ll up that to $750,000 and if you get 40 goals I’ll give you a $1,000,000 bonus.  Since I haven’t completely made up for the pay cut in your base contract, if the team advances to the conference finals, I will also award you a $1,000,000 bonus.  If my math is right, a conference final season will net you a $300,000 pay raise.  These bonuses can be earned annually over the next three years.  If you continue to improve, I’ll work out a better deal for you next time.”

Alex looks at his agent Stan who nods that this is probably the best deal he is going to get then turns back to Marc.

“I accept those terms,” he replies

Marc passes the contract to Stan for his review, Stan nods that all is well, then hands Alex the contract for his signature, which Alex gladly signs and passes back to Marc to file with the league.  Now Alex and Brendan can head back to Miami to re-connect with Alex’s family and plan their wedding.

As it turns out, just coming out of the closet in the NHL presented some unique challenges that the Gallys hadn’t considered.  It really didn’t help that Brendan’s notoriety as the “Sunny Little Ball of Hate” around the league already makes him a target of scrums in front of every goaltender in the league.

In their travels around the league though, not a single NHL player was surprised by the announcement of the relationship between.  In fact many of the players publicly supported Alex and Brendan after the article that appeared in Out magazine stormed its way around the internet, some were even quoted in the article.

The article in Out lead to a twitter storm from several friends around the NHL

Taylor Hall @Hallsy09

Congrats @AGally94 and @BGally17 for their courageous act.  Hope my wedding invitation is in the mail!

Nathan Beaulieu @nathanbeaulieu

Glad to be quoted in an article featuring my friends @AGally94 and @BGally17.  You two have been perfect for each other since the day we met.

Connor McDavid @cmcdavid97

New found respect for @AGally94 and @BGally17.  Hey @stromer19 are you thinking what I’m thinking?

Dylan Strome @stromer19

@cmcdavid97 yeah where’s my ring?

Auston Matthews @AM34

Nice work @AGally94 and @BGally17!  @marner93 you better be at my place in the next 20 minutes or I’m doing something rash!

Mitch Marner @marner93

Officially announcing that @AM34 is the love of my life!  How’s that for rash @AM34?

Auston Matthews @AM34

Nice @marner93 but you still better get home soon or dinner will burn!

Montreal Canadiens @CanadiensMTL

Notre felicitations @AGally94 and @BGally17/@AGally94 and @BGally have our congratulations.

Jonathan Drouin @jodrouin27

Felicitations @AGally94 and @BGally17!  Looking forward to being teammates this fall!

Tyler Seguin @tseguinofficial

Congratulations to my hockey friends @AGally94 and @BGally17.  @Jamiebenn14 and I were happy to get an invitation, see you in October!

Patrick Kane @88PKane

Was great playing @AGally94 and @BGally17.  I have an announcement of my own coming real soon, stay tuned!

Jonathan Towes @jonathantowes

@AGally94 and @BGally17 congratulations on coming out!  @88PKane and I are sending you some interesting mail!

Andrew Shaw @shawz15er

Still sorry what I said in Chicago one time to @BGally17.  Congratulations to my teammates @AGally94 and @BGally17.  #BestMan

Carey Price @CP0031

@AGally94 and @BGally17 waiting for your two to make the Habs family bigger after the wedding! #Adoptalready

Toronto Maple Leafs @MapleLeafs

Nice article from our friends @CanadiensMTL.  @AGally94 and @BGally17 best wishes on the wedding planning!

The Twitter storm continued into the night.  Alex had to peel Brendan off of his laptop to go to bed.

“Gally you can’t possibly read it all.  It will be there in the morning”

“But Chucky this is incredible!  Half the league has tagged us in at least one tweet today.  Oh, and Seggy and Jamie officially RSVP’d by Twitter.  Mitch and Auston finally professed their love for each other publically, and McDavid and Stromer hinted wedding bells may be in their future.  We officially have a hashtag now called #OutGallys that is trending.”

“Yeah well the invitation to the Kane and Towes wedding came in the mail today and it’s set at the United Center the night we play the Hawks in November,”  Alex commented.

“The best part Chucky is that the Montreal Dragons League wants to play us.  It’ll be a non-check game so I think Bergevin would be on board since there is little risk of injury to us.”

It turned out not to be quite that simple.  After some serious negotiations with the league, the NHLPA and the Montreal Dragons (the gay men’s hockey league in Montreal), Bell Centre had finally scheduled a preseason game where the Habs would play the Dragons as a fundraiser for You Can Play.  Alex, Brendan, and their new teammate Jonathan Drouin were the main drivers of the game.

It turned out to be a magical evening as the Gay Men’s Chorus of Montreal performed the national anthem with Dragons players and Habs alike on the red line as one and Scott Heggart was given the honor of performing the ceremonial puck drop.  Since the Dragons are a non-checking league, that request was honored by the Habs.  Overall the game raised nearly $250,000 for the You Can Play organization, and a matching $250,000 was donated to the local teenage crisis center to help teens that are struggling with their sexuality.  After the game ended, the Canadiens took the Dragons out that night for dinner and drinks in an awesome show of solidarity.

During all the planning for the Dragons game, Alex and Brendan were still planning their coming wedding as well.  The Canadiens had offered up the Brossard practice facility for the reception and the ceremony was going to be held at the top of Mont-Royal in the week between the preseason and the start of the regular season.  Only the team, the Montreal Dragons, family, and friends around the league were invited to attend.   The park had already closed for the season so the general public was not permitted to access the park.

The wedding was simple and the reception was unsurprisingly rambunctious.  The whole event carried a family atmosphere and the kids and adults alike joined in the fun all the facilities at Brossard offered.

Now that the Gallys had their personal life out in the open, other players had either come out to them in person or asked how it was received by their team.  As for the fans in the other cities, well there always seems to be some homophobic asshole somewhere in the stands no matter what city the Habs were the visiting team, but they are quickly booed and usually escorted out of the building.  The checks remained just as hard, and the scrums in the front of the net where Brendan sets up shop continue just as they had before.  It was like very little had changed when the team was on the road.

Back in Montreal, the team would occasionally celebrate a win at a club in Beaudry.  Usually, if the game was on Friday evenings where they could invite their friends on the Dragons hockey league to join them after their game ended.  If the Habs were off and at home on a Friday night, they were usually watching the Dragons and headed out for beers with them after the game.

It didn’t take long for the 3rd gay hockey player to come out of the closet.  It was Jonathan Drouin, after he announced to the team that he had started dating a member of the Montreal Dragons.  Brendan and Alex took them both on a double date to vet the guy and make sure he’s a good fit for Jo.  Several hours of chirping and a vocal highlight reel of Jo’s more embarrassing moments during Jo’s tenure in Tampa were on full display, often with Brendan laughing his ass off.

Through all the press, You Can Play videos, a wedding and even a kiss on the ice the entire sports world saw.  The Gallys did things their way.

Gally's

OUT OF THE LOCKER ROOM

By OutSports Staff

Gay hockey leagues have existed in many of the major metropolitan areas for years.  A place where a gay player has no fear of the homophobia that often exists in many team sports.  The fear of a professional player having to keep their sexuality quiet is enormous.  Over the years a professional player has come out here and there, often ending their very short careers and none of them came from the hockey world.  Would anyone ever come out publicly in the NHL?

We didn’t think so until March 2nd when one of our hockey correspondents was watching the Montreal Canadiens play the Nashville Predators.  A goal with less than 10 minutes by Brendan Gallagher finally broke a stalemate.  The goal didn’t catch our attention, the kiss that occurred after it did.  So we called the Habs PR department and got a voicemail.  Three days later our phone call was returned and we were told that they wanted to meet with us.

We traveled to Montreal and were directed to a stark conference room in the Canadiens’ practice facility in Brossard where we were met with Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher known to their teammates as AGally and BGally or even just Chucky and Gally.  They were the two players that performed the kiss we saw back in March.

Gally Kiss

OutSports: Take us back to March 2nd.  Your former teammate was in town.  I have to admit, I’ve never seen a hockey player cry before.  Brendan scores, and Alex you were there a few seconds later, what was going through your mind?

Galchenyuk: It was Gally’s first goal in 16 games and our first time on the same line since we were both injured in December.  All I saw was the man I love celebrating the sweet smell of success.  I couldn’t help myself, my brain shut off and I skated over to Brendan and mashed lips just as the rest of our line flew in around us.  I didn’t even realize that we were visible for a couple of seconds.

OS: So how long have you two been together?

Gallagher: About 3 years now, we got engaged last summer.

OS: Congratulations, when’s the wedding?

Galchenyuk: It will be a private ceremony in October most likely, we are still working out the details.  The Habs wanted us to do it at Bell Centre, but we are both pretty private guys and wanted to keep things mostly that way.

OS: So how did you two get together?

Gallagher: Well we were road roommates our rookie season.  Being the only two rookies to make the team that year the CBA required us to room together.  We spent a lot of time on the road together.  We both acknowledged to a teammate how we felt about each other.  About halfway through the second season our teammate Brendon Prust kind of nudged us together.  We’ve been that way since.

OS: So does the whole team know?

Gallagher (laughing): Well they did after that kiss in March.  There was a second in the locker room after the game.  Seriously though, Nathan, when I came out to him as a rookie knew and before he was traded so, did PK and Prust.

Galchenyuk: I had come out to Prust about the same time Brendan and I started dating.  There were feelings, but I kept them to myself.  Made things rather awkward in my mind.

OS:  There was a time Alex that you had a girlfriend in the 15-16 season.  If you and Brendan were together, why keep a double life?

Galchenyuk:  There was someone who threatened to out us.  We had kept our life together private.  Brendan and I are usually private individuals and wanted to keep things that way.  So, I got a girlfriend to ensure we had plausible deniability.

In retrospect, it was the worst decision I’ve ever made.  My fake girlfriend got attached and caught Brendan and I in an intimate moment during my birthday party that year.  We got into a physical altercation and that ended it all.  That very night I knew I had to track down the blackmailer and mend my tattered relationship with Brendan.

OS: Did you ever find out who sent the letter?

Galchenyuk: We did.  It was a former teammate, and we have forgiven his actions.  He never meant to act on the letter.

OS: Are you going to name this teammate?

Gallagher: We aren’t going to comment on that further.  In our minds, it has become a non-issue.

OS: So what does the future hold for Alex and Brendan?

Gallagher: Well we are planning on traveling back to our families over the course of the summer.  Now that we are out, we might help with some fundraising for organizations that support the health, welfare, and equality of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender individuals.

Our first order of business is a game against the Cutting Edges in Vancouver.  We gathered some friends around the league to who we trust our secret to join us.

Galchenyuk: My second order of business is to get resigned by the Habs.  I won’t say that it will be all roses and sunshine, but I want my future to be in Montreal with Brendan.

For a locker room having two of its star players come out is something that is often met with apprehension.  In Montreal, we found out that the team suspected something was going on long before the March kiss that outed Alex and Brendan.

Captain Max Pacioretty commented, “Their coming out wasn’t really a surprise to me.  Gally and Chucky are rarely separated.  They’ve been joined at the hip since their rookie season, where they acted rather awkward to each other, it was kinda fun watching them work things out!”

Former teammate Nathan Beaulieu furthered, “When Brendan came out to me in our rookie season, I had to admit I was a little shocked.  He was genuine that he thought his sexuality would mess up with his career.  I’m happy to see that it hasn’t.  I wish Brendan and Alex all the best for their future together.”

Andrew Shaw was previously penalized for homophobic comments directed at a referee.  He was very quick to comment to us, “Alex and Brendan make a very cute couple together.  Alex is genuine and ever since he got a goal from me on a line together, he now considers my mustache a good luck charm.  Brendan is our little ray of sunshine.  I made a homophobic remark once at him too.  I have apologized for both instances, and since meeting Brendan and Alex, I consider my past prejudices to be very errant.”

Newly minted Coach Claude Julien even spoke in support, “Alex and Brendan have the full support of the Canadiens organization and the Agglomeration of Montreal.  We are in negotiations to play a pre-season game with the Montreal Dragons League in honor of the courage of Alex and Brendan,”

With all that has gone on in Montreal this year, there is a ray of hope that coming out in the NHL will not be a career-ending move.  It was an honor and privilege to interview Brendan and Alex.  Best wishes to them both for a bright future and long career.

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