January 20, 2014

Jason York

Jason York was drafted by the Detroit Red Wings. He spent several seasons apprenticing in the minor leagues, but only got into 19 games with the Wings over 3 seasons.

Still, he is quick to credit the veteran Red Wings dmen of the time with helping him become a NHL regular, even if it didn't happen in Detroit. Veteran dmen like Mark Howe, Brad McCrimmon and especially Hall of Famer Paul Coffey.

“He was my partner (as a rookie) and he was a great guy to me. He used to give me little tips and stuff – playing the game the way he liked the game to be played,” remembered York. “Obviously, I don’t play like Paul Coffey, but there’s little things like getting your feet moving and moving the puck right away – little things that you remember. I always remember what he said: ‘Keep your feet moving and get rid of the puck.’”

York moved on to a brief stop in Anaheim before establishing himself as a full-time NHLer during a five-season stint in his hometown of Ottawa (1996-2001.) Interestingly, as he emerged as solid NHL player he also emerged as leader on blue liners. He regularly played with and tutored a young Wade Redden. 

“I always tell him, I taught him how to play because I had him when he was a rookie. His dad’s the only one who believes it,” said York with a smirk.

York was a skilled defender. He was a mobile skater with a hard shot. He read plays well, both offensively and defensively. He was never a natural physical player but learned how to best implement that facet of the game into his bag of tricks. He always relied on positioning and an active stick more than any form of brute strength.

York left Ottawa and began the vagabond years of his hockey journey. He returned to Anaheim, spent a couple of seasons in Nashville, headed over seas and finally retired in 2007 after a season in Boston.

York - who was a notable artist with caricatures of teammates being a specialty of his - played in 757 NHL games, scoring 42 goals and 187 assists for 229 career points. He later became a television broadcaster and had a popular newspaper column in which he wrote the following:

I was fortunate enough to play in the NHL for 13 seasons - for five different teams, including Detroit, Anaheim, Nashville, Boston and my hometown Senators.

I got a chance to compete against some of the best to have ever played the game - players like Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Sidney Crosby and Mario Lemieux. I played alongside the likes of Steve Yzerman, Paul Coffey and Ottawa's own Daniel Alfredsson.

Being a seventh-round draft choice of the Detroit Red Wings made getting to the NHL a little tougher for me, but it makes you appreciate it a lot more when you get there.

Yorkie's teammates and coaches all appreciated him, too.

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