Vancouver Canucks’ injured Jason Garrison plans to be ready for an NHL season … whenever it starts
White Rock native frustrated his debut with his new team has yet to happen
VANCOUVER — If the NHL and its players' union actually find a way to settle their lockout differences this week, injured Vancouver Canucks defenceman Jason Garrison said he expects to be at training camp.
“That's what I'm planning for, absolutely,” Garrison stated Monday after a one-on-one skate with Canucks skills coach Glenn Carnegie at UBC.
Garrison, 27, is not locked out due to his status as a person “unfit to play.” He has groin issues. He has been under the care of the team since the lockout began Sept. 15 and, like rehabbing mates Ryan Kesler and Alex Edler, is being paid until medically cleared. Canucks head athletic trainer Mike Burnstein was at UBC Monday observing Garrison's workout.
Garrison explained that he's had groin problems “the last couple of years.” He insisted it was not a sports hernia. He was the Canucks' prime off-season acquisition, agreeing to a six-year deal worth $27.6 million July 1 that included a $3-million signing bonus.
“I am trying to put this in the past,” Garrison said of the injury. “It's just using the time right now productively. I think that's the best way to put it. I want to make sure this thing comes to an end and I don't have to deal with it. Fortunately for me, I'm able to work with the best so it puts me in a good position to get healthy quickly.
“If you put this in a big time span, I guess I've had groin issues like any other player, but it's nothing that has really kept me out for an extended period of time or anything like that.”
Garrison missed just 14 games the last two seasons with the Florida Panthers. Asked if he could have played Oct. 11 had the season started on time, Garrison replied: “I was gearing up and getting ready for training camp and, obviously with the situation that happened, it allowed me to take a step back and really focus on this. (The delay) is nothing you can control and you don't really know how much time you have so you try to use the time productively as much as you can.”
Between the lockout and his injured status, Garrison admitted he was frustrated his debut as a Canuck has yet to happen. He's from White Rock and has friends and family anxious to see him in a Vancouver uniform during an NHL game.
“Definitely it's frustrating,” he said. “You don't really plan for it. You're really excited to play and obviously the lockout just kind of prolongs that a bit. So I don't want to think about it too much. I know the time is going to come and, when it comes, then it will be good from there on in.”
Like everyone else, he has his take on the lockout and Thursday's rejection by the owners of three NHLPA proposals.
“I wish I knew what goes on inside the heads of some of those people,” he said. “Obviously the frustration sets in when it doesn't look like they're taking the time. I mean, it's just unfortunate you don't see eye-to-eye on some situations. You give the same number and then you give the definition and it's a different definition. Hopefully it gets resolved soon. That's all I can say.”
Meanwhile, union bargaining committee member Manny Malhotra said there is a notable difference — so far — between this lockout and the one that cancelled the entire 2004-05 season.
“It's a little different in the sense there was no communication for a long time in the other one,” he explained. “It was a much more serious fight, I guess. It was a black-and-white 'cap versus no-cap' whereas this time the understanding is there. We understand the economics of where the game is going and we got to 50/50 and now it's a matter of the owners honouring the contracts they have signed. That's the main issue.
“There are a few more issues circling around," Malhotra added, "but this is far easier than a cap-no cap situation.”
On a lighter note, Garrison said he is anxious see the movie Argo as he has been asked (in jest, presumably) if he and actor Ben Affleck, who sports a full beard in the film, were separated at birth.
“It's funny you mention that because I did have a couple of people comment to me about it,” he replied. “It's tough to say who is the better looking one. Obviously I'm going to check out the move and see the resemblance.”
ICE CHIPS: Garrison credits crooner Michael Buble for “coaching” Kevin Bieksa's Buddies to victory in last Wednesday's charity match against the UBC Thunderbirds. “He had some words of inspiration and sang us a melody,” smiled Garrison. Buble and Garrison were part of a six-man group behind Bieksa's bench.
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