Sitting down with a 6’0” built Ryan Garbutt of the Dallas Stars, we talk shop – about what it’s like to play his first NHL game, what he thinks about being home, the Winnipeg Jets, how he made it to where he is, and just how he plans to stay there.
Growing up in Edmonton, his favorite team was the Edmonton Oilers, at 13 years old his family made the move to Winnipeg where he would become an instant hockey prospect. Playing hockey 6 days out of 7 and rigorous training regiments throughout Garbutt’s teenage years, Winnipeg had guessed it right; that we would see Ryan in the National Hockey League in years to come.
As Garbutt is very close to his family, father Gord, mother Karen, and younger sister Lauren, he made it very clear to me that he couldn’t have made it to where he was without their unconditional support through his hockey years growing up. Being around the rink constantly in Edmonton at 2 and 3 years of age, his father Gord Garbutt played for the WHA Oilers. Gord, also being on the radio as a sports broadcaster had a major impact on his son. With Ryan developing a taste for the game at an early age, hockey is something he has always wanted to do. But for Garbutt, “being back home is the best feeling, being here with family and my friends, there’s nothing like it”. As his favorite meal is steak, potatoes and a Pepsi (with a side of tragically hip and baseball), it seems nothing can break this strong family bond that has gotten him so far!
Playing as a tough forward for the Winnipeg South Blues from 2003-2005 set him up early to be scouted by Brown University Bears. Here he would play for the Ivy League school for four years as a lead scorer before starting with the Chicago Wolves AHL team. As the Atlanta Thrashers affiliate team, in Chicago, Garbutt made good friends with his ‘favorite’ Jet, forward Tim Stapleton. “He is just such a strong and smart player and has a lot to offer; I actually spoke to him just before this interview” Garbutt laughs.
His first game in the NHL against the Phoenix Coyotes was ‘inexplicable’ he says shaking his head. “Just an amazing experience, it all happened really fast”. Being called up from the Texas Stars the night before, he was ready to play and make an impact with the Dallas Stars. And that he did – Dallas General Manager Joe Nieuwendyk spoke quite highly of this ‘star’. “It’s exciting for me, but who would have thought a year ago would be a player like Garbutt-he did a good job for us. You need those things to happen, I think it’s critical. It’s refreshing to see players come in and do the things they did”.
However to date, the ‘most amazing experience’ of Ryan Garbutt’s life was on March 14 2012, When Stars hit Jets at home. “Having my parents and everybody at the game in my hometown was just so unbelievable. Coming to play the Jets with their crowd and fans was incredible and I’ll never forget it!” Noting how the Jets are an extremely tough team to beat at home and how insanely loud these dedicated Jets fans are did not however make it any less special for this committed and dynamic player.
As a busy summer of training awaits Garbutt, he is willing and ready to put the time and sweat in. With his trainer of ten years Richard Burr, Garbutt’s meticulous workouts include a lot of isolated leg training, skating, balance routines, running and swimming. Though Ryan thinks I may be able to take him down no contest in the lap pool, he would have me beat on the track any day.
As his training starts at 9 am each day, six of his Dallas Star teammates are playing in IIHF World Championship right now. Garbutt expressed how he is very excited for all of them “I think they will all excel there!” Quite confident Canada has the gold in our grips, he thinks fellow forward Jamie Benn will secure that for them at Hartwall Arena in Finland.
As Ryan Garbutt’s fate is not yet sealed as an unrestricted free agent, this ‘unconventional prospect’ will definitely make an impact on any team he hits. This forward is a fine contender to be signed as a Star in Dallas.