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Jackman back where he belongs

Defenseman signs one-day contract to retire a Blue

by Chris Pinkert / St. Louis Blues

ST. LOUIS - In the past 50 years, plenty of legendary names have worn the Blue Note, from Glenn Hall to Al Arbour, Bob and Barclay Plager, Brett Hull, Al MacInnis and even the best of all time in Wayne Gretzky.

But there's another guy, too - a player whose name wouldn't show up among a list of legends but certainly should because his contributions to the team on the ice, in the locker room and in the community weren't any less significant.

That player is Barret Jackman, and he's a true Blue through and through - even if he spent his final 73 games in another team's uniform.

Jackman announced his retirement Tuesday afternoon during a press conference at Scottrade Center, where he signed a one-day contract to officially leave the game where his heart never actually left - with the St. Louis Blues.

And for No. 5, he wouldn't have it any other way.

"For me, I grew up wearing the Blue Note," Jackman told stlouisblues.com. "I came into the League at 18, got drafted, threw that jersey on and moved from Canada down to St. Louis. I met my wife, had my kids - and I did all that with the Blue Note on."

Jackman retires as a 14-year NHL veteran. He ranks second on the Blues' all-time games played list with 803 regular-season games - trailing only another one of those legendary names: Bernie Federko (927).

His resume, which dates back to the 1999 NHL Draft in Boston, is impressive.

"I remember sitting in the stands and knowing I had a few interviews the day before with different teams. The Blues were one of them," Jackman recalled. "Going into draft day, you don't know what number you'll be picked or where you're going, but you're just excited you get to go to an NHL training camp. When my name was called for the Blues, I was thrilled but was more focused on walking down the stairs without falling."

Jackman never fell. In fact, he didn't even stumble.

Video: Jackman retires as member of the Blues

RELATED LINKS: Photo Gallery | One-Day Contract

In his rookie season, he tallied 19 points, 190 penalty minutes and a plus-23 rating, which helped him capture the Blues' first and only Calder Trophy, which is given annually to the League's top rookie.

"It was nice to see Jax win that Calder Trophy, because those types of players never seem to get the recognition they deserve," said Al MacInnis, Jackman's defensive partner in 2002-03. "I can still remember his first game. It was in Detroit when we called him up in the playoffs. His first game in the National Hockey League looked like he was in the League for five or six years. That's the kind of poise and composure he showed."

"Every team has a heart-and-soul type of guy, someone that wears their heart on their sleeve and does what's best for the team, sacrifices their body. Jax was that guy in St. Louis for a long time," said former Blues teammate Chris Pronger, who won the Hart and Norris Trophy as a member of the Blues after the 1999-2000 season. "It's not easy a lot of times, and those are the things that go unnoticed. Those are the intangibles that don't end up on the scoresheet. You have to watch somebody like Jax night in and night out to appreciate what he does for the team."

And that's exactly what we did. We watched him every night - because he rarely missed a game, even when he was hurt. We watched him battle for his teammates. We watched him play that physical, tenacious and gritty style he made all his own. We even watched him drop the gloves if the situation required it.

No one could question his effort. In his final seven years with the Blues, he recorded a plus-46 rating, which tied him for 21st amongst all NHL defensemen in that span. He also was one of only 15 defensemen to log over 500 hits and 700 blocked shots in that stretch.

"He's been a leader ever since I've known him," said Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo. "Jax is a good friend to a lot of us, and he helped me a lot when I was coming up. Speaking for myself and a lot of the guys (in this locker room), we owe a lot to him. We're really privileged to have played with him and to have had him take us under his wing.

"He had an unbelievable career and not only that, he dedicated his whole career and life to the city of St. Louis. What he's given back is absolutely tremendous."

Video: Barret Jackman: A Career in Review

Until he signed with Nashville in the summer of 2015, Jackman was the longest-tenured athlete in St. Louis, which also made him one of the most recognizable names in the community. Over the years, he was heavily involved in many charitable causes - from The Dream Factory, which granted dream vacations for children with serious illnesses, to the Delta Gamma Center for Children with Visual Impairments and Stray Rescue of St. Louis.

Those 14 seasons went by fast. In his own words, Jackman calls it a "whirlwind and an amazing journey." That journey has led him back to St. Louis with his wife Jenny - a St. Louis native - his son, Cayden and his daughter, Makena.

And St. Louis is right where he belongs.

"Just being out in the public, you're out for dinner or you're taking your kids to school or different events around St. Louis, the fans come up and say they enjoyed watching you play - that they know you played hard and you played the game the right way," Jackman said. "I took a lot of pride in that. Guys like Bobby and Barc Plager, and Kelly Chase - they might not be the all-stars, but every time they were on the ice, whether it was for two minutes or 20, they weren't cutting any corners and they were playing every shift like it was their last. That's what I tried to do.

"I look forward to many more years in St. Louis, making this my home and being part of the Blues Alumni," Jackman added. "I feel very honored to be a Blue."

Barret Jackman will be honored by the Blues at the Oct. 27 game vs. the Detroit Red Wings. Tickets are available now at ticketmaster.com.

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