By Matt Malinowski
READING, Pa. – Tom Galvin, with a little shake of his head and a curl of his lip, said that he hates the fish sticks.
Despises them, actually. They give him a rancid taste in his mouth, an uneasy lump in his stomach.
The Reading Royals’ defenseman wasn’t complaining about days in his old high school cafeteria, and he doesn’t have any personal vendetta against Mrs. Paul.
The “fish sticks” Galvin finds the most unappetizing are the New York Islanders.
Which seems a bit strange, considering he grew up on Long Island. But the team Galvin grew up adoring was the Islanders’ division rivals, the Philadelphia Flyers.
More specifically, the Flyers of the 1980’s captained by Dave Poulin.
His favorite Flyers were Pelle Lindbergh, Ron Hextall and current Pensacola Ice Pilots owner Tim Kerr, but Poulin was right up there.
Around these parts, Dave Poulin needs no introduction. He played with the Flyers from 1982-90, won the Selke Trophy in 1987 as the league’s top defensive forward and was an NHL All-Star in 1986, ’87 and ’88. He is a member of the Flyers’ Hall of Fame. There are plenty more highlights, but you get the picture.
Poulin also played at Notre Dame and was team MVP in 1981-82. He was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award as the national player of the year in 1982. And, 10 years ago, he became the head hockey coach at Notre Dame.
Galvin also has an undying passion for the Fighting Irish. He was going to attend college there, period, end of sentence.
Poulin’s presence in South Bend certainly didn’t hurt.
“I would have gone to Notre Dame no matter who was the coach, but with him being there it was definitely a done deal,” said Galvin, who didn’t start playing ice hockey until he was 12. “I didn’t even have to meet him, really.”
No introduction was necessary because Poulin’s reputation precedes him. Classy. Hard working. Smart.
He’s a player who didn’t have overflowing talent but worked himself into a top performer. He tried to instill that kind of work ethic in his players.
Tom Galvin was all ears. And it’s a strong work ethic that has helped turn him into a very, very good defenseman.
“He’s a real intelligent coach,” Galvin said. “Obviously when you have a coach that was a captain at the highest level, everyone always is listening. He’s a great speaker and a great guy on and off the ice.
“He taught me how much it takes to be successful, all the hard work it takes. He always would stress attention to detail and the little things. He always found a way to stay upbeat and put things in perspective.”
Galvin was a key member of a Notre Dame squad that set school records for lowest goals against average (2.48) and shutouts in the a season (six) last year. The Irish also won 20 games for the first time since the 1987-88 season and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time. He was voted the team’s most outstanding defenseman.
He’s not the biggest blue-liner to lace up skates, standing 5-9 and weighing 185 pounds. But he’s tough as nails, skates well, makes good puck decisions, is very versatile and is a tireless worker.
Sounds like a certain former captain of the Flyers, doesn’t it?
“He plays with a lot of energy and is very intense on the ice,” Royals coach Derek Clancey said of Galvin. “When he is on the ice he sometimes gives us the presence of a fourth forward. He can really read the play and is a very intelligent player overall.
“Whatever he is doing, he does it with everything he has inside of him. He does it at practice and at games and it translates into good habits. He’s the kind of guy a coach loves to have on his team. He does everything with a purpose, which I really like.”
Hmm, Galvin plays with passion, follows the Flyers and hates the fish sticks. Think Royals fans are gonna like him?