The Tampa Bay Lightning were in the middle of a push for a post-season position when an injury to Mathieu Garon complicated the issue. Garon had assumed the role of starting net-minder and was putting up some of the best numbers of his career. He had appeared in 48 games, the most since 2005-06 when he was with the Los Angeles Kings. Until the time when he tore a groin muscle on March 6, it appeared that Garon was ready to lift his club toward the playoffs after putting together a 12-3-2 run.
With Garon sidelined, the team finished out the season with a 7-7-2 record, just enough to not be included in the post-season. Ironically, the medical staff cleared Garon to return to the ice, exactly one day after the season ended.
“I wish my injury had never happened,” Garon said. “After Christmas, we began to play a lot better. Just really bad timing.”
Garon’s timing did not improve after the season, when his family left on a long-awaited trip to the Bahamas.
“We went to the Atlantis Resort for four days and it rained for three of them,” Garon said. “The first day there was no sun but no rain, and we managed to do things the kids (Charles and Rosemary) wanted to do, like the waterslides. After that, we spent our time watching movies in the hotel room.”
Garon’s summer improved once school ended and the family headed to their home in Quebec City. His home is on a lake and the family enjoys getting out on their boat as often as possible.
“To be with them in the off-season is the most important thing,” Garon said. “For me, I want to be with my family all I can. We’re really a tight family. When we can, we want to spend our time together. I work out in the morning and the rest of the day I hang out with my family.”
That includes a fishing trip with his dad and his son for three days, and a charity bike ride around the lake. Some participants will ride for 24 hours, non-stop, but not Garon.
“I did eight hours,” he recalled. “I could have gone farther but at some point late at night it was dark and pouring rain and I began to think, ‘I don’t want to get injured doing this,’ so I pulled up.”
Garon takes part in a charity bike ride in his hometown of Quebec City.
After eight hours on the bike, Garon was pleased to note that his legs felt great. He did have to deal with some discomfort, though.
“Let’s just say that the bicycle seat wasn’t very padded,” he joked.
Pushing forward is nothing new to Garon, and he’ll have to do it again once the season gets underway, since the Lightning acquired goaltender Anders Lindback from Nashville in the off-season.
“As soon as we got him, I sent him a few text messages to welcome him,” Garon said. “I haven’t had a full conversation with him yet.”
Looking ahead, Garon’s attitude about the upcoming season seems to be shared by all the Lightning players.
“I’m really looking forward to the start of the season,” Garon said. “I think we all want to get back on the ice and make the playoffs.”