Thursday

Don Jackson

One of the forgotten members of the Edmonton Oilers Stanley Cup dynasty years is Don Jackson.

The Minneapolis, Minnesota born Jackson was 3rd pairing defenseman with the Oilers (often paired with Randy Gregg) from 1982 through 1986. Twice he sipped champagne from the Stanley Cup (1984 and 1985) and played in another Cup final (1983) while with the Oilers.

Jackson was physical presence on the Oilers blue line, but not to be mistaken as a goon. He fought if he had to, but mostly he provided solid defense. Unlike so many of the famous Oilers, Jackson was not particularly skilled in terms of puck or skating skills, but he could make a strong breakout pass if given some time.

Jackson actually started his NHL career with his hometown North Stars in 1977, after graduating from the University of Notre Dame. He never regularly played with the Stars, though. And he almost quit hockey to pursue a career in real estate in 1982. Had he followed through with his brief retirement from the game he would have missed out on his chance to win the Stanley Cup and play with Wayne Gretzky!

He rounded out his NHL career with the New York Rangers in 1986-87 season, but a degenerative hip condition forced him into retirement.

Jackson then stepped behind the bench in the minor leagues and later in the NHL. Twice he made headlines for all the wrong reasons.

In 1995, with the Atlanta Knights of the IHL, he scaled the glass behind the bench to attack the Cincinnati Cyclone's mascot, who had infuriated the coach by making fun of him. Jackson was suspended for 10 games.

In 2000-01 he was fired by the Chicago Blackhawks just 8 games into the season. The Hawks experimented with the NHL's first European coach, a Finn named Alpo Suhonen. The two did not get along, although it is unclear if it was personality differences or more about cultural differences.

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