Newly-acquired Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Jason Garrison is making his second foray into the Sunshine State after starting his NHL career with the Florida Panthers during the 2008-09 season.
Sandwiched between the four-year stint in south Florida and his new home in Tampa Bay, Garrison spent two productive seasons with his hometown team, the Vancouver Canucks.
Following informal workouts Friday at the Brandon Ice Sports Forum, the White Rock, British Columbia, native admitted it would take time to re-acclimate himself to the Florida heat and humidity.
“Definitely a change from Vancouver, that’s for sure,” he joked.
The 29-year-old Garrison was a key acquisition for a Lightning squad that made a number of off-season moves to solidify the roster. Finding a veteran blueliner who could impact the power play was a priority for Lightning vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman.
The Bolts found those traits in Garrison, a 29-year-old lefthander with a heavy slap shot and a propensity for staying on the ice – his minutes per game average of 20:53 ranked third last season on the Canucks.
Yzerman initially made a play for Garrison prior to the 2012-13 season, but the unrestricted free agent signed a six-year deal with Vancouver. With the Canucks looking to unload his contract this offseason, Garrison waived his no-trade clause to become a member of the Lightning. Vancouver sent Garrison, the rights to forward Jeff Costello and a 2015 seventh round draft pick to the Lightning in exchange for the 50th overall (second round) selection in the 2014 NHL Draft.
“(Yzerman) continued to have faith, I guess, for a little bit,” Garrison said.
Garrison scored seven goals and had 26 assists last season for the Canucks, and his 33 points tied a career high. In his last season with the Panthers in 2011-12, Garrison put up his best totals, recording 16 goals and 17 assists while averaging 23:41 of on ice time per game.
Now back in Florida, Garrison is readjusting to the Florida lifestyle. He said he’d like to try his hand at a different brand of fishing.
“I haven’t gone deep sea fishing…I have, not in the warm waters, cold water, Vancouver, way up in Queen Charlotte (Islands), I went salmon fishing up there. But nothing like the big boys here.”
However, don’t expect to find Garrison partaking in another Florida pastime: sunbathing on the powdery, white sands of a local beach.
“When I was in Florida [prior], I don’t think I went [to the beach] maybe once,” he said. “It’s not really on my radar…Unless you go there every day and you hold your tan, your first time you’re a lobster. You don’t want to walk in here like that.”