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November 25, 2015

Jeff Batters

Jeff Batters loved the game of hockey. Unfortunately his life was cut short by a tragic car accident.

A defenseman with the Kansas City Blades of the IHL, Batters was a 4 year pro making some good strides in his development as a player. Just days prior to attending the San Jose Sharks training camp, Batters was killed in an automobile accident just outside of Banff, Alberta where Batters was working a youth summer hockey camp.

Just 25 years old, Batters signed with the Sharks as a free agent on September 7, 1995. He played the entire 1995-96 season with the Blades, scoring 34 points (5 goals, 29 assists) while accumulating 223 penalty minutes in 77 games. At the end of the year he was asked to join Team Canada at the World Championships. His invitation there showed just how far Batters had come over the years.

Born in Victoria British Columbia, Jeff played his junior hockey at a very unlikely place - the NCAA division two school at the University of Alaska at Anchorage. Jeff fell in love with the city of Anchorage, and later called it his favorite city.

Despite playing in a low level of college hockey with a no-name team, Batters size and physical play was discovered by NHL scouts. The St. Louis Blues used their 7th choice (135th overall) of the 1989 entry draft to select Batters.

Turning pro in 1992-93, Jeff spent the next three years playing mostly for the Blues farm team in Peoria of the IHL. However he did get called up for 16 NHL appearances, collecting no points but 28 PIM.

Batters became a free agent in the summer of '95 when he signed with the Sharks. Even though he didn't play a game with the Sharks, its conceivable that Batters could have played at least a handful of games in the 28 or 30 team NHL that expanded since his death.

"Jeff never gave up on his dream to play in the National Hockey League," said Sharks General Manager Dean Lombardi. "He was a good person who was well liked by the entire organization. Our condolences go out to his family."

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