Former Arizona Coyote Conor Garland and Vancouver Canucks on track
It wasn’t easy for Conor Garland to suddenly leave the Arizona Coyotes and his longtime friends and former teammates in the organization when he was traded over the summer to the Vancouver Canucks.
Garland admitted it on Friday. He said he was okay with the team’s rebuilding plan, given his investment in the franchise. But the exchange of him and longtime Coyotes captain Oliver Ekman-Larrson in Vancouver has taken place, and since then the Canucks have undergone sweeping changes as well.
Saying goodbye to the players, including forward Clayton Keller and others with the Coyotes, was tough. A few former teammates will be at Garland’s wedding next summer.
“I have a pretty strong relationship with these guys. ‘Kells’ is like a little brother to me and I keep in touch with him, I talk to him probably every other day,” Garland said. “It was quite emotional when I was traded, because then you realize how lucky you were to be a part of a team with your best friends and to go out for dinner and be in the same rink. and work with them every day, and have the same goal as them. “
Garland is excited to compete against the Coyotes, which he will do for the first time on Sunday night at Rogers Arena in Vancouver. He has 22 points in 31 games (nine goals) with the Canucks after 2 ½ seasons with the Coyotes, and 2 ½ with the Tucson AHL Roadrunners.
“It’s a game that I’ve had on my schedule for a while,” he said.
“That logo and that city (Phoenix) meant a lot to me. I didn’t know where I was going to be traded this summer. There were a bunch of teams we had heard about, and I knew I was on the move. to be bought, pretty much since the deadline (last season), ”Garland said. “When I moved, I now focus on winning the Stanley Cup. We have a very, very good team here, and that’s our goal. to have that, to know that at the start of the season you have a real chance to win the Cup. “
The Canucks might think so much more now, having won six in a row on Friday under new head coach Bruce Boudreau. But earlier this month in a major upheaval, head coach Travis Green and general manager Jim Benning were sacked, along with assistant general manager John Weisbrod and assistant coach Nolan Baumgartner.
At that point, the Canucks were 8-15-2 and got stuck at the bottom of the NHL Pacific Division standings. Garland loved Green’s training and wished the team had played harder for him.
“Sometimes it’s necessary. But for me, I was just starting to understand our system and felt comfortable playing. I was playing late in games and a lot further away from a goal, and I liked a lot (Green). I was starting to get familiar with ‘Greener’ and then all of a sudden we have a change. It almost feels like it all started all over again. “
Garland said it takes time to get used to a new team and a new city and the adjustment continues, but hockey dominates the sporting scene in Canada, and it’s exciting for him to be in a market like Vancouver.
Fan passion results in angry reactions to defeat and negativity, but on the ice Garland is simply trying to get Boudreau’s system back.
“Obviously it’s a lot better when you win, which we are now, so it was with our departure,” Garland said. “It’s fun. There are challenges with that. I think the biggest challenge is just ignoring it and accepting it when you’re there at the rink and how passionate they are and how they’re loud and it’s full every night. It’s a lot of fun to be a part of. “
Contact Jose Romero at Jose.Romero@gannett.com. Find him on Twitter at @RomeroJoseM.