NEW JERSEY — As the New Jersey Devils continue to rebuild, one of their primary players has stepped up to the plate to help.
New Jersey’s Jason Garrison has been a fixture on the team’s blue line for much of the past two seasons.
He’s played in just nine games this year, registering three assists and three penalty minutes.
And it’s not the first time Garrison has become an ambassador for the franchise.
Garrison and former Devils coach Bruce Boudreau were two of the faces of the franchise during their first season as a full-time organization.
Boudreau was the head coach when the team won the Stanley Cup in 2012.
But the franchise has been hit hard by the recent recession, which has been particularly difficult on the blue line.
The Devils have had some of the worst scoring totals in the NHL this season.
In fact, the team has had a net-zero goal differential this season and are tied for the worst record in the league with just four goals allowed per game.
As of Saturday, New Jersey is tied for seventh in the Eastern Conference, two points behind the Tampa Bay Lightning for the eighth wild card spot in the conference.
With the team on the outside looking in, Garrison is one of the few New Jersey players that is not afraid to take a shot at the competition.
“It’s a great league, a great organization, and a great city,” Garrison said.
“And I can’t tell you how proud I am to be a Devils fan.
It’s just a great feeling.”
New Jersey Devils’ Jason Garrison on the ice.
For a player who has had to battle through a lot in his career, the best thing about his journey to this point has been the support from his teammates and coaches.
That support has shown through in Garrison’s performance on the field.
During his first full season in the Devils organization, Garrison posted 53 points (11 goals, 40 assists) in 82 games, a career-high for a defenseman in a single season.
His numbers dipped slightly to 43 points (18 goals, 34 assists) and 33 points (13 goals, 29 assists) the following season.
But it was still a career high.
“I’m happy to be in a position where I’m able to show people that I am capable of doing that,” Garrison told ESPN New Jersey.
“I’m also able to play in front of people and show them what I can do.”
While his numbers were not as high as his career average, Garrison did show his strength when on the power play.
When he had a chance to score on the rush, Garrison used his quick feet to deflect a shot, deflecting it behind his goalie.
It’s something he’s been doing a lot of since his rookie season in 2011-12.
The former first-round pick scored six goals in his first 30 games with the Devils.
Despite those numbers, Garrison was a healthy scratch on the blueline last season and was sent back to the AHL for the season.
While Garrison had an assist in the team defeat at the hands of the Tampa Kings, he had more than a few tough days.
After suffering a concussion in the first period of a 3-1 loss to the Florida Panthers on Nov. 3, Garrison missed a second straight game with the concussion.
On Nov. 15, he missed two games and the rest of the season because of the injury.
While the team struggled offensively last season, Garrison managed to provide some help to a defense that was ranked 28th in the entire NHL.
A big part of that was Garrison, who had just one goal and six points in 26 games during the Devils’ run to the playoffs.
Through four games, he has scored two goals and six assists for five points.
He’s had a strong presence on the penalty kill and was among the best at taking away shots.
If the team can stay healthy, it will be interesting to see if Garrison can find a role with the team next season.
Garrison, who turns 28 in November, has made it clear that he wants to remain a Devil.
He said he wants his legacy to be as a player and as a person, and that it will take time to find out what that legacy will be.