Often overlooked, underappreciated, Garland ready for big stage with Canucks

VANCOUVER – Conor Garland has heard the Vancouver market is tough.

Yeah, whatever, so is hockey when you’re five-foot-eight, been cut from bantam teams, ignored in the National Hockey League draft and been a regular healthy scratch — in the minors.

“I’ve heard that,” Garland told Sportsnet when asked about alleged negativity in a market. “But that stuff doesn’t bother me in the slightest. I’m probably my hardest critic and I view hockey as a privilege to be able to play, and you have to realize people are going to say stuff about you whether you play in Arizona or Vancouver or Toronto.

“If I’m driving in my car and I hear somebody on the radio say I’m a bad player, it’s not going to bother me in the slightest. I’m more excited about going to a city where on a Friday night the biggest thing (in town) is the game going on, and I’m one of the players on the team. Whether they’re negative or positive, it’s not going to affect me. I’m just happy to play in a market that is as enthusiastic about the team as I am.”

It’s impossible for a National Hockey League player to hide in Canada, and Garland, who is from Scituate, Mass., on the South Shore outside Boston, just got a lot bigger with Tuesday’s five-year, $24.75-million contract extension with the Canucks.

The contract makes the 25-year-old winger part of the Canucks’…

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