Saturday, December 16, 2017
Tampa Bay Lightning

Garon knows Lightning tenure ending

WINNIPEG — Mathieu Garon knows how to read between the lines, especially when the writing is on the wall.

The Lightning goaltender said he has not spoken with general manager Steve Yzerman about his future with the club. But after Tampa Bay acquired Ben Bishop at the trade deadline, it did not take a rocket scientist to figure out Garon will not be re-signed.

Yzerman later confirmed the plan is for Bishop and Anders Lindback, at least as 2013-14 begins, to share duties in net.

"I know what it is," Garon said. "I've been around long enough to know the situation."

And that leaves the pending unrestricted free agent in what would seem an uncomfortable situation, playing for a team he knows will discard him when the season is over.

That became even clearer Monday, when Bishop signed a two-year, $4.6 million contract extension through 2014-15.

Asked if his circumstances sting a bit, Garon said, "Well, I'm sure you can draw your own conclusions. It's not the easiest situation."

Garon, 35, signed in July 2011 to a two-year deal, has been a good soldier for the Lightning, first as the backup for Dwayne Roloson and this season as backup for Lindback.

When Roloson faltered during 2011-12, Garon was the de facto No. 1 and went on a 12-3-2 streak that had Tampa Bay in the playoff race until a torn groin ended his season in March.

His statistics this season — 5-9-2 in 18 games with a 2.90 goals-against average and a .897 save percentage — are not as robust. But Garon has not lost in regulation in his past three starts or his past four appearances (2-0-2).

Part of that has been his irregular playing schedule. Also, there's the compressed season schedule because of the lockout that leaves little time for practice.

"It's hard, but I don't want to use excuses or anything," Garon said. "It's my job every time we step on the ice to get ready."

That kind of level-headed response, and how Garon has gone about his business, has reinforced what his teammates knew.

"Ultimate class," coach Jon Cooper said. "After the trade (for Bishop), we spoke, and naturally, I'd feel the same way. But that's it. He got up the next morning and turned the page and, 'Let's go, boys.' He's been great for us."

"It's tough," captain Vinny Lecavalier said. "Tough times, that's really when you see how people are, and he's handling things the right way, for sure."

There's not much more to do.

To get a new contract somewhere, Garon has to impress any team watching. That's another reason his work Saturday in Washington, where in relief of Bishop he held off the Capitals while the Lightning mounted a four-goal comeback before losing 6-5 in overtime, was notable.

"Probably the only thing I can do right now is have good games," Garon said. "Besides that, there's not much I can control."

MOVES: With forwards Nate Thompson (cut over right eye) and Pierre-Cedric Labrie (upper body) expected to play tonight against the Jets at the MTS Centre, J.T. Wyman was reassigned to AHL Syracuse. Forward Tom Pyatt (head) likely will be held out as a precaution, Yzerman said.

Damian Cristodero can be reached at [email protected]

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