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Quiet Garon just gets the job done

Upon entering the Manchester Monarchs locker room, goaltender Mathieu Garon just may be the last person you would notice. His modest and reserved demeanor does not exactly make him stand out – until he hits the ice. He is at the top of his game right now, and is crucial in keeping the Monarchs at number one in the AHL’s Eastern Conference.

Garon was aquired by the Los Angeles Kings last summer for Cristobal Huet and Radek Bonk, after spending the 2003-04 season with the Montreal Canadiens. The Quebec native made 19 starts for the Canadiens, including a debut in the Stanley Cup playoffs. With the lockout looming, Garon agreed to a contract with the Monarchs in September and never looked back.

“The AHL is the best option for me right now,” Garon explained. “Europe wasn’t really signing many goalies, and with my newborn baby I felt it was best to stay here. It is the best fit for me.”

He added, “I’ve played here before, and it is good preparation for the NHL when it returns. I did not want to be sitting at home through the lockout.”

Garon is no stranger to the AHL, and has been very successful during his stints in the league. He came from the NHL prepared to play, and has given nothing but his best effort.

He currently ranks third among AHL goaltenders and is tied for the lead league with six shutouts on the season. Those numbers earned him a nod into the 2005 Dodge AHL All-Star Classic on February 13-14, where he will have the chance to play in front of his home crowd in Manchester.

Garon believes that the ability to thrive at any level correlates strongly with having a good work ethic.

“I try to always maintain a good work ethic. I work hard in practice and I don’t mind being on the ice for a long time,” Garon stated.

Monarchs backup goaltender Adam Hauser added, “Mathieu’s work ethic is outstanding, and there is a lot that can be learned from him on and off the ice. He has an admirable attitude and character in the locker room.”

Hauser also added that there are many benefits to having an NHL-caliber goaltender on the team.

“I get to practice with an NHL goalie every day. It’s the next best thing to being in the NHL, especially right now. Also, it is great to have someone around who I respect to talk about goalie stuff. We don’t always have the opportunity to have a goaltending coach here in Manchester, so Mathieu is very helpful to me. There are many benefits to him that we have to take advantage of, and we are.”

Having a solid, focused goaltender like Garon is also important to the confidence level of a team, as Monarchs left wing and captain Chris Schmidt explained.

“It absolutely makes a difference to know he is back there,” said Schmidt. “He gives us a sense that we’re never going to be out-goaltendered. It gives the team a lot more confidence to play in front of a guy like him.”

Garon has found a good fit in Manchester and he is just as happy to be with the Monarchs as they are to have him.

“My experience here has been great so far. This is a great organization,” he remarked.

“It is fun to play in front of wonderful fans and also fun to play for a winning team.”