April 25, 2008
Garon's at No. 3 -- for now
By TERRY JONES -- Sun Media
QUEBEC CITY -- There's no truth to the theory that netminder Mathieu Garon was added to Team Canada to go in for the shootouts.
But now that you mention it ...
"I hadn't thought of that," Team Canada head coach Ken Hitchcock laughed of the goaltender who stopped 32 of 34 shots and was 10-0, leading the Edmonton Oilers to a record 14 wins against two losses in shootout games this season.
Another reason Garon could have been selected as the No. 3 goaltender of the team may have been as concierge to the best bars and restaurants in Quebec City. He lives here in the off-season.
"Maybe that's why I'm here," said Garon. "Maybe that will be one of my jobs. I don't know yet."
Garon said he knew he was on hold for the job, waiting to find out if Marty Brodeur or one of the others who have been Team Canada Olympic or World Cup of Hockey members would be knocked out of the playoffs and accept the invitation.
"They first contacted me a couple of weeks ago. "They wanted to wait and see how the first round of the playoffs turned out," he said of joining Sherwood Park native Cam Ward of the Caroline Hurricanes and Pascal Leclaire of the Columbus Blue Jackets as team netminders.
If he needs to go in for Canada, Garon said he's healthy. He missed the final nine games of the regular season with the Oilers due to an ankle injury.
"I was ready to come back for the playoffs," he said. "I'm feeling good."
Oilers coach Craig MacTavish sees Garon's selection as something of a reward, pointing to Garon's 26-18 season with a 2.66 goals against average and a .913 save percentage.
"I think it's recognition of the year he's had," said MacTavish, who also has Steve Staios and Sam Gagner from the Oilers on this team, the latter as the 14th forward or alternate.
"Sam was added because he's a teenage player who is still eligible to play junior hockey," said Hitchcock of his perspective on adding the 18- year-old who was the youngest player in the league last year.
"He's a really mature player who can play all three position on offence.
"He has the maturity of a 25-year-old. We decided we wanted to give him every chance to be part of the team," said Hitchcock.
"He's a special player. We felt he was somebody who could fit in this role," he said of being the alternate on offence. "Because we're playing this tournament on the smaller Canadian ice surface, I think the odds are higher that some players could get a bit banged up and we think Sam could handle coming in and playing."
Edmonton Oilers coach Craig MacTavish, an associate coach on this team, can't wait to watch his young star on the ice in practice and in exhibition play with the more established NHL stars on this team.
"I'm anxious to see him practice and play with these guys. I don't think he's going to look out of place. I think he's going to be a surprise to a lot of people."