Return to rink stirs up memories for former Pat
Former captain returns to Brandt Centre and is honoured with his own bobblehead
When Barret Jackman walked through the players’ entrance at the Brandt Centre — just as he had hundreds of times before — the memories from 18-plus years ago came flooding back.
The former Regina Pats captain did plenty of reminiscing on Saturday when he returned to his former junior home for Barret Jackman Bobblehead Night — a sure sign that the former NHLER has officially arrived as a WHL legend.
“I made it,” he said with a laugh while standing outside his old dressing room.
“Walking down the stairs, it seems just like yesterday. I was walking down there as a 16-yearold for the first time. This takes me back to where a lot of my career started and I’m very appreciative for the Pats and the City of Regina.”
Jackman spent four seasons with the Pats, compiling 28 goals, 139 points and 796 penalty minutes in 234 regular-season games. He also played for Canada twice at the world junior championship, winning two bronze medals.
Jackman is considered one of the greatest all-around defencemen in Pats’ history, not just for his two-way prowess but also his leadership, no-nonsense style and legendary toughness.
Not many players would mess with Captain Jack, including his own teammates. Even at a young age, his maturity stood out among players up to four years his senior.
“(I remember) coming in as kind of a naive 16-year-old and battling (for a spot), then capping it off with the Mem Cup at the end (in 2001),” said Jackman, 37, who attended last year’s tournament in Regina as a special guest. “I came in for one game and got to feel the energy and the crowd. It’s different when you’re on the ice playing but it was fun to watch again.”
Jackman’s final WHL game was on May 26, 2001 — a 5-4 overtime loss to the QMJHL’S Val-d’or Foreurs in the Memorial Cup semifinal. The host team was headed for the championship game when Jackman scored a goal with 1:28 left in regulation time but Simon Gamache tied it with 38 seconds on the clock and Chris Lyness ended it in OT.
“I can always remember the feeling scoring a goal late in the game and then getting deflated afterwards,” said Jackman, who still keeps in touch with a few former Pats teammates. “Just the excitement and the feeling that entire tournament was awesome.”
It was a memorable end to a celebrated junior career for Jackman, who was among the most-respected captains of his era. He wore the ‘C’ for three seasons after being named the youngest captain in franchise history at age 17.
“It was kind of a tough year with a lot of guys getting traded,” he said of the 1998-99 campaign. “Gerad Adams was the captain at that time. He was a great mentor at a young age. Getting that ‘C ‘is always an honour and quite a privilege, especially with a franchise that’s that old. To be able to have a little part of history was pretty neat.”
Jackman was selected by the St. Louis Blues in the first round (17th overall) of the 1999 NHL draft. He graduated from the WHL two seasons later and spent just one year in the AHL before he earned a spot with St. Louis, winning the Calder Trophy as the NHL’S rookie of the year in 2002-03.
Jackman would play 12 seasons in St. Louis before finishing his career in 2015-16 with the Nashville Predators. He married a St. Louis girl and still resides in the city with their two kids — a nine-year-old boy and seven-year-old daughter.
Jackman was involved in player development with the Blues last season but took a step back to spend more time with family.
He’s still very much involved in the community — much like his time with the Pats.
“Coming to Regina I had no idea what to expect — where my career was going to go and if I was good enough to actually play in the NHL,” said Jackman, who went on to make 876 regular-season appearances in the league. “I played with some great players (in Regina) that were drafted a couple years before me in Brad Stuart and Derek Morris and guys like that. Being able to keep up with them kind of gave me the confidence to keep going and continue that dream.”
Barret Jackman still is looking fit almost two decades after his junior hockey days, although, as his bobblehead suggests, with a lot less hair.