With gut-churning conviction, Conor Garland pursues Canucks’ top winger role

ABBOTSFORD, B.C. – Those years running cross-country for the Dexter Southfield School near Boston came up big Thursday for Conor Garland. So did breakfast.

The Vancouver Canucks’ new winger knew when it was time to puke. And as he was warned by knowing teammates, that time would be on the opening day of training camp during coach Travis Green’s notorious session-ending conditioning skate when players are challenged to complete four gut-churning intervals in 40 seconds or less.

Olli Juolevi lay in the corner of the ice like he was dead. Garland merely felt that way, on his knees behind the net emptying the contents of his stomach beneath the dismayed eyes of arena workers holding scrapers and possibly wondering whether their wages were commensurate with their duties.

Until he discovered the wonders of Gravol, then left the Canucks as a free agent before last season, former Vancouver defenceman Troy Stecher wore his vomit – not quite literally, but it was close – like a badge of honour. Stecher literally skated hard enough to make himself sick.

On Thursday, so did Garland.

“Something I value. . . is to be a pace-setter in practice, somebody who practises hard,” Garland, the 25-year-old winger, explained afterward as he tried gently to rehydrate. “Today, I tried to kind of go as hard as I could the whole time. And that last (interval) kind of got me.

“I ate too big a breakfast. I just…

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