After playing for hockey teams in Minnesota, New York, Florida and on Vancouver Island, White Rock's Jason Garrison has returned to his roots as a newly signed defenceman for the Vancouver Canucks.
The 27-year-old took the long way home, but is back in B.C. for the next six years on the home team.
Like most Canadian hockey players, Garrison was practically born with a hockey stick in hand and grew up glued to Hockey Night in Canada. He skated Centennial Arena and South Surrey Arena, getting a feel for the ice at the local rinks.
"My dad played, all my family played, all my friends played," said Garrison. "It's very easy for a Canadian kid to get into hockey at an early age, and that's kind of exactly what happened to me."
He cheered for the Canucks and looked up to many of the local greats in the franchise's history, citing Trevor Linden as his biggest inspiration.
"Trevor Linden was obviously somebody who everybody loved and wanted to watch," he said of his main idol. "Over the years, you kind of meet some of the guys that you grew up watching and had influence on you, and still have influence on you, now that you've met them and know them on a personal level.
"You don't expect to really meet them, but when the time comes, it's very cool. It brings you back to your youth and watching them play back in the day."
But even though hockey has been Garrison's lifelong passion, it wasn't until his senior year at Elgin Park Secondary School that he started pursuing the sport as a career.
"I didn't take it too seriously until then and really started to work out and train," he said.
"I played at kind of a Triple-A level and I think just playing at that competitive level helped me progress and really want to play and do something with this sport."
He started his career playing two seasons for the Nanaimo Clippers in the British Columbia Hockey League. He then played three years of collegiate hockey with the University of Minnesota, and on-and-off seasons with the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League.
Through perseverance, he made it to the National Hockey League with the Florida Panthers and, after becoming a free agent, he signed a contract worth $27.6 million with the Vancouver Canucks on Canada Day of this year.
Through it all, Garrison's family has had his back, and he's thankful for their support and dedication. While he no longer lives with his parents, he comes back to his skating grounds for the company of loved ones and to reconnect with childhood buddies.
"I get out to White Rock every once in a while," he said. "It's always nice to get out there and check it out and be with family and friends."
Garrison may end up spending more time in White Rock if there's an NHL lockout this season. He said he doesn't know what to expect at this point from the talks, but he's not getting worried about it until anything is announced.
"It's something that you obviously are thinking about during the summer and wondering what's going to happen," he said. "You hope for the best and you want the season to start on time, so that's how you prepare yourself and think mentally. You just take it from there."