New Canuck Jason Garrison relishes Sedin synergy
Defenceman pencilled to be on first-unit power play with twins
VANCOUVER — Even before he became a Vancouver Canuck on July 1, defenceman Jason Garrison pondered what it might be like to have his pals from White Rock rooting for him in a Canuck jersey.
“All my friends and family are big Canuck fans,” he said last May. “They give me a hard time about being all the way out here in Florida.”
Those hard times are apparently over. After an 8½ month wait, Garrison will make his debut Saturday as a Canuck, wearing No. 5, and facing the Anaheim Ducks at Rogers Arena. He left the Panthers as an unrestricted free and signed with Vancouver for six years and $27.6 million.
“Finally,” nodded Garrison, 28. “It’s been a long wait. I have made it a bit easier on everyone who follows me. It’s been good. My family is going to be coming Saturday and, hopefully, my friends will be watching. It’s tough to get everyone tickets but over the time I’m here, hopefully I’ll be able to spread out the ticket requests.”
On the ice, Garrison essentially replaces Christian Ehrhoff, although one year late, on a five-man group with the Sedin twins, Alex Burrows and Alex Edler. He also be on the first-unit power play with Daniel and Henrik.
Garrison attempted to downplay the potential bonanza of offence he could collect with the twins feeding him. Ehrhoff parlayed that arrangement into the best two seasons of his career and a stupendous contract with the Buffalo Sabres in 2011.
“It’s obviously pretty early to say how it will go but, as of now, it’s been a lot of fun,” said Garrison. “I think it makes it easy for me to kind of get a feel for the systems because those guys know them so well. Obviously if that opportunity is there, I’ll be supporting them as much as I can, giving them the puck and trying to find my ice, trying to jell with them and getting to know them on the ice.
“Their passing ability is pretty surreal. When you’re out there with them, and see what they can do, you have to be ready at all times, I think.”
Henrik Sedin admitted he’s been pleasantly surprised by Garrison’s talent. The Florida Panthers aren’t frequently on TV so Henrik hadn’t seen much of them, although he started watching the Cats a little more after fellow Swede Mikael Samuelsson was dealt there early last season.
“I knew Jason had a great shot but he has been a nice surprise for all of us,” said the Canuck captain. “He reads the play really well. He’s really calm with the puck and he makes the easy play all the time. That’s what you want. Yeah, he is a little bit like Ehrhoff. They both have a great shots and love to shoot. I think maybe Hoffer was a little bit more offensive and really liked to jump up in the play.
“I haven’t seen enough of Garrison yet but, in the two scrimmages, he was up in the rush a lot so that’s a good sign.”
Goalie Cory Schneider faced Garrison in both scrimmages this week and liked what he viewed.
“I saw about 15 of his shots so he’s a shoot-first defenceman, which is great,” Schneider commented. “I think we’ve all been very impressed with his fitness and his strength and I think he’s going to be a big minute-eater for us this year.”
Garrison was a bit of a news item during the 119-day lockout as he was considered an “injured player” and was paid for two months while under the team’s care for a groin issue. He spent a lot of time with noted physiotherapist Rick Celebrini before getting cleared in mid-December. Garrison has skated well during the Canucks’ weeklong camp but now the true test comes.
“Rick Celebrini helped me tremendously,” Garrison said. “Absolutely working with him has paid off. I’ve had a bunch of people help me a lot along with way and I’m just glad it’s in my past. I definitely feel stronger and more stable on the ice. Rick’s whole thing is core, core, core. I definitely notice the difference and I look forward to this weekend.”
Let the games begin.
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