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Garrison: Off days provide chance to relax with family

by Jason Garrison

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Jason Garrison will be blogging for periodically throughout the Stanley Cup Final. In this edition, he explains the importance of having days off throughout the Final.

BRANDON, Fla. -- Two days off between games in this Stanley Cup Final gives us a lot of time to unwind and just get away from everything for a bit. We all need it. It helps.

We flew home on Thursday, and I probably walked in my door around 1:30 or 2 p.m. I had family that was in Chicago flying back here a little later in the day, so I got home and just cleaned up a little bit, unpacked and relaxed before everybody got in.

I had a massage appointment. Let's call it a sports massage appointment. We have a team masseuse, but at that time of the day they're busy and they've been traveling, so I have somebody I see on a regular basis.

Anyway, that was later in the day, and then my family got in. I had my aunt and uncle in for Game 2, and now they're back along with my cousin and good friend. My dad and sister get in tonight. More family friends are also coming in.

Now that practice is over I'm going to go have some lunch with some of my family members and then probably just relax after that. There's not really much to do. I'll hang out and be with them. There isn't a whole lot going on, but these days off give us a chance to get out, rest the body and even rest the mind a bit.

My family likes to talk about hockey. We're from Vancouver, so hockey is big. They're interested about Tampa as a city, a hockey market, and the game, what's going on. They talk hockey for sure and I try to fill them in as best I can.

With family that's fine, but on a regular basis I try to take my mind away from the rink when I can. It seems to help out a lot. It seems to give me the energy to come to the rink every day and have fun with it.

I don't want to liken this to a regular day job, but it relates a bit to someone who goes to the office and when they go home they'd rather not talk about work. Obviously this is different. I'm doing what I love for a living and I'm incredibly fortunate to be able to do this. I never, ever take a day for granted. But mentally it can wear on you, so it is good to get away for a bit. That way when I come to the rink I'm so excited about it, so excited to get here.

That's why it's nice to have family around. They want to get up to date on some hockey things, but there are a lot of other things you can talk about with them to take you away a bit.

And yes, they talk to me about my beard. I don't think I go a day now without talking about my beard.

They're great. They're fans of the game and they want to be involved. They love it and they're having a ton of fun now. It's exciting for me to see them have that fun and be a part of it. It's a pretty cool experience.

The problem is I have to get a lot of tickets. I know I have more than 10 right now for them for Game 5, but it's not going to cover everybody. There is a lot of family here for all the players and we only have so many tickets that we can buy, so some of my family members, I don't know if they'll be able to get into the rink. It's tough, but you try to do your best. Our PR guys do a great job in trying to handle everybody's requests. It's a special moment for everybody.

But we have a team dinner and meeting later on tonight, and that's when the focus really turns to Game 5. That's when the signal goes off and it's time. As soon as you have any team or hockey-related meeting or event it's all business. It's about the goal.

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