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Transplants Garland and OEL Loving Life, Stirring Hate (+)

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Travis Konecny of the Philadelphia Flyers called him an “angry little elf”. Filip Zadina of the Detroit Red Wings referred to him as a “midget” in a postgame press conference. I’m referring to one of the Vancouver Canucks acquisitions from the summer, forward Conor Garland, formerly of the Arizona Coyotes. He is a “shift” disturber, Energizer bunny, and waterbug all rolled into one. He seems to pattern his game a bit after Brad Marchand of the Boston Bruins, a name Garland brought up more than once in the preseason. Marchand has a higher-end offensive game, but there are similarities in stature, attitude and approach.

The other man who came north in the July 23rd transaction was defenceman Oliver Ekman-Larsson (OEL). He was considered the main piece in the deal that sent three draft picks and some bad contracts south, but many hockey aficionados were more excited about Garland. Either way, we’re only three games into the Canucks 2021-’22 season, and it looks like Vancouver fans should be excited about both.

Playing in Glendale, Arizona is like hockey purgatory. The anonymous lifestyle I’m sure is nice, and playing hockey for large chunks of change is adaptable to any environment. But let’s face it, and I’ve seen it first hand as a visiting game broadcaster and journalist, the half empty rink and the less than authentic atmosphere gets old quickly. The games were way more exciting back when the team first moved from Winnipeg and Jeremy Roenick and Keith Tkachuk were playing at America West Arena near downtown Phoenix, even with its obstructed view seats at one end of the rink. Playing in a modified basketball building was way more tantalizing that what’s been taking place the last decade-and-a-half in the strip mall boonies.

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