A Look Back at #8
I had a front row seat for Conor Garland’s dominance during his time with the Moncton Wildcats in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Garland’s brilliance in the offensive zone became the stuff of legend around the Hub City, but more importantly I witnessed Garland’s maturity on and off the ice.
I realize from a media standpoint that it was a must to stay impartial and critical during that time as a TV colour analyst for my creditably and integrity, but the young diminutive scoring sensation did extraordinary things while in Moncton.
Here’s a look back at a blog I wrote in 2015 on the Boston, Massachusetts product.
How Good is Conor Garland? (Originally published 11/18/15)
Conor Garland continues to dominate the QMJHL. Garland’s franchise high and league leading point production a season ago lifted the Moncton Wildcats into the QMJHL semi finals meanwhile drawing the attention of the Arizona Coyotes. Garland a 5th round selection 123rd overall appears to be a potential steal for the Coyotes organization.
Garland no stranger to constant criticism continues to impress offensively but has quietly worked hard on other facets of his game. Garland has noticeably been more accountable in his own zone, blocking shots and is even seeing sometime on the penalty kill as of late. Garland terrorizes his opponents by possessing a relentless offensive instinct, tenacity and grit. Given his stature and playing style, Garland continues to prove skeptics wrong by amassing points at an incredible rate early on in the 2015-2016 season. With a unique skill set and vision that rivals that of former Boston Bruin standout Marc Savard, Garland possesses an uncanny ability to make every teammate an offensive weapon.
Garland’s ability to spot the open man coupled with his tenacity below the dots in the offensive zone is a truly unique combination for a player of that skill level and stature. His instincts and willingness to go to the dirty areas to make a play has made him one the most dangerous players in the CHL while on the man advantage.
Nevertheless, Garland isn’t free of the normal flaws of a highly offensive junior player. Shift length, a lack of defensive intensity on a consistent basis and a willingness to back check have certainly fuelled the fire for Garland critics and has led some people to believe that he can’t play at the next level.
So how good is Conor Garland? Conor Garland can change the complexion of a game at any time, he is an offensive catalyst and on many nights Conor Garland is the engine that drives the Moncton Wildcats.
If Garland’s defensive accountability, maturity and leadership qualities align with his offensive prowess twenty-nine other NHL teams will be left wondering why they didn’t take a chance on the diminutive offensive genius from Boston, Mass.
Garland has certainly paid his dues in the American Hockey League. It’s truly awe inspiring to see him having early success in the NHL.
In 78 career games the talented winger has 24 goals and 10 assists. The kid from Boston proved a lot of critics wrong in reaching the National Hockey League and continues to do that today.
Conor Garland is just another perfect example of kid that they all said was too small or too one dimensional to play.
Conor Garland deserves everything and more that has come his way.