Re­turn to rink stirs up mem­o­ries for for­mer Pat

For­mer cap­tain re­turns to Brandt Cen­tre and is hon­oured with his own bob­ble­head

Regina Leader-Post - - FRONT PAGE - GREG HARDER [email protected]­

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.