Mar. 30, 2012; Columbus, OH, USA; Florida Panthers defenseman Jason Garrison (52) during the first period against the Florida Panthers at Nationwide Arena. Columbus Blue Jackets won 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE

Jason Garrison A Diamond In The Rough

Growing up in White Rock, British Columbia, hockey was second nature to Jason Garrison. Jason knew that he wanted to be a professional hockey player from the beginning. Knowing that it would be no easy feat, Garrison put everything he had into the game. As a professional Jason has been through so much, whether it was being undrafted, playing in the NHL or even setting records, Garrison’s ride has definitely been different.

Garrison started his playing career with the Nanaimo Clippers, a junior “A” ice hockey team that plays in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada. As a young defenceman, Garrison was there to earn a better understanding for the game and also to gain experience which would be key to his success later on in his professional career. As a player for the Clippers, Garrison certainly showed a lot of promise and potential. In his first season as a Clipper he had 27 points in 52 games played. Although his numbers weren’t bad for a first season player, Garrison had a desire to improve his game. The very next season showed what discipline and dedication could do. Garrison had improved his statistics by a ton, improving his point total from 27 points to an outstanding 62 points in just 57 games. As a young player with a large amount of talent, Garrison went on to play college hockey at the University of Minnesota- Duluth.

Starting his college career for the 2005-2006 season, Garrison played in 40 games scoring 12 points. Coming off a decent freshman year, Garrison was ready to take his college career to another level. However, after missing the beginning of the season due to tonsil surgery Garrison only appeared in 21 games after injuring his leg which required surgery and eventually sidelined him for the remainder of the season. After having an ok freshman season and a terrible sophomore season, Garrison wanted to make sure he bounced back from his so far below-average college career to have a good junior year, and he did just that. Garrison started off his junior season the way he wanted to. In 26 games he had 14 points. With the clear improvement in play, Garrison was looking to carry his hot start with him through the rest of the season. However, his year didn’t end quite like he wanted to. In the beginning of February tragedy struck as Garrison broke his leg against the University of Wisconsin. Missing all but his final game, the Bulldogs suffered with him in the lineup winning on two of their final 10 games. Garrison went on to skip his senior season of college to turn pro.

After foregoing his senior season, Garrison wasn’t a highly rated prospect. However, Garrison was listed as an exceptional skater and passer but his one biggest knock was not being physical enough while on the ice. Despite his strengths he failed to be drafted in the 2008 NHL Draft, the Florida Panthers gave Garrison a chance to play for them after signing him to a two-year entry level contract. After being assigned to the Panthers affiliate the Rochester Americans, Garrison made a great transition to the pros. In his first season with the Americans, Garrison was one of the positives for the Americans after not having a great season. Scoring over 30 points in his first professional season Garrison knew he had to keep up his high level of play if he wanted to play in the NHL. Garrison made his NHL debut later on in his first season as being a last second call up due to an injured player.

His second season with the Americans didn’t last long. Garrison stopped playing with them halfway through the season. It wasn’t due to injury however. His high level of play earned him a call up to the Florida Panthers. Once he got the call he was there to stay. Even though he played in a limited role for the rest of the season Garrison was happy to be there.

In the 2010-2011 season Garrison saw not only his role with the team increase but also his stats increase from the previous year. He played in 73 games that season as he scored five goals and thirteen assist which was good enough for what was then a career high 18 points.

Now the 2011-2012 season is coming to an end. However this season was one to remember for Garrison. Garrison set career high throughout the season in goals, assist, and points. Garrison not only set a career high in goals for himself, he also set a record for the Florida Panthers. With sixteen goals in the regular season, Garrison became the top defenceman goal scorer in the season. The Panthers definitely found a diamond in the rough with Garrison and with the Panthers having not only trouble scoring but winning as of late, they need Garrison to be the great defender he is but also the great goal scorer and passer he is to help jump start the Panthers offense and help them as they battle for the division lead.

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