November 25, 2015

Jeff Jackson

Jeff Jackson was a hard working forward who came to play every night. A rugged wall-banger and occasional glove-dropper, Jeff played a largely third or forth line role on most nights, often playing defensively against the other team's top forwards, as well as a penalty killer.

Selected 28th overall in the 1983 Entry Draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs, Jackson was more of an offensive player at the junior level.

“I came into the (NHL) as a bit of an offensive player when I was drafted. But I think what happens is you get put in roles that best fit a team and I became a defensive minded player. I enjoyed that type of the game, I took a lot of pride in it. Your offensive game suffers as a result but that’s what kept me in the league for a number of years so I can’t complain about it."

However this lack of production left all but the close observers feeling that Jackson was a disappointing high draft choice who never came close to fulfilling his potential.

That isn't very true however. Injuries plagued him throughout his career, as did his puck handling skills. While he had good NHL size and speed, he was only average with the puck. Unable to make solid plays witht he puck, Jackson's small offensive contributions became a result of his banging and crashing and going to the front of the net.

Jackson had a strong junior career in the OHL with the Brantford Alexanders and Hamilton Steelhawks. He also had a strong 1985 World Junior Championships when he notched 1 goal and 7 assists in 7 games.

Jackson didn't make the Maple Leafs until the 1986-87 campaign when he scored 6 goals and 7 assists in 55 games. However the youngster wasn't progressing like the Leafs had hoped and there was no real role for the young winger to play in Toronto. So he was traded late in the season to the New York Rangers in the Mark Osborne trade. The trade instantly looked bad for the Leafs as Jackson scored 5 goals and 1 assist in 9 games to finish the season. He added 1 goal and 1 assist in the playoffs and many fans wondered if the Leafs gave up on the blossoming player too soon.

Had he stayed with the Rangers, perhaps Jackson's offensive totals would have been better. But before the 1987-88 season Jackson and Terry Carkner were traded to Quebec in exchange for veteran scorer John Ogrodnick and defenseman David Shaw. Jackson would play the next three years with the struggling Nords, who at that point were one of the worst teams in league history. Jackson was asked to play a crash and bang role on the third line.

His best offensive season came in that first year in Quebec. He had 9 goals and 18 assists for 27 points. Knee injuries limited Jackson to only 33 games in 1988-89 but he came back strong in 1989-90 when he scored 8 goals and 12 assists.

More injury problems would plauge Jackson for the rest of his career. He only played in 35 pro games in 1990-91, only 10 of which were with the Nords. He scored 3 goals in one of those 10 games, and added an assist in another for 4 points that season.

Jackson then signed with the Chicago Blackhawks for the 1991-92 season but spent all but one game in the minors. That one game in a Hawks uniform proved to be Jackson's last as he retired at the end of year.

Jackson's career totals are 38 goals, 48 assists and 86 points in 263 games.

After retiring from hockey, Jackson went to law school and passed his bar exams.

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