By Kyle Shohara
CALGARY – Tim Jackman has certainly paid his dues over the course of his professional hockey career. A veteran of seven seasons spent in the American Hockey League and another 10 in the NHL, Jackman has appeared in 888 regular season contests between the two tiers (AHL – 407, NHL – 481).
He laced up the skates in 30 career Calder Cup Playoff games spanning three separate runs and got as far as the Conference Finals with Manchester in 2007, but a chance to play in the Stanley Cup Playoffs had eluded him until this spring. As the Ducks look to take a commanding 3-0 series lead in a city he called home for four years, Jackman reflects on what it means to face his former team, the Calgary Flames.
“It’s pretty special to be back in a familiar place,” says Jackman, whom the Ducks acquired from Calgary on Nov. 21, 2013. “I met a lot of good people away from the rink who have had a big influence on my life, and I had a lot of fun playing in my first couple of seasons here. We had a couple good runs trying to make the playoffs, but we just missed it by a few points. I’ll remember those experiences.”
Though some of his former teammates have since moved on, including his good friend Jarome Iginla, Jackman says he always makes it a point to catch up with the Flames medical and training staff, as well as the team’s equipment crew, when they come to Honda Center and when the Ducks travel to Calgary.
This is a special time of the year for the Minot, North Dakota native known for his blue collar “lunch pail” work ethic. An upper-body injury late last season sidelined him for the entire 2014 playoffs and forced him to watch the games from the press box. And with the depth up front this year, the 33-year-old Jackman had to earn his spot on the team’s fourth line.
Jackman leads the team with 12 penalty minutes in the postseason and has 15 hits spread over six games, but it’s his heavy forecheck and physical play that has shined thus far. Jackman’s willingness to battle in the crease with Calgary’s Brandon Bollig in Game 1 directly led to Emerson Etem’s second goal of the playoffs.
“There is a price to be paid in every game, and you’re no longer looking for two points,” says Jackman, who will stick up for a teammate at a moment’s notice. “You’re looking to win. I’m just trying to help the team by playing my best out there.”
Jackman knows a thing or two about playing in this building, and how much of an impact the crowd has on the home team. Three of Calgary’s four wins in the first round vs. Vancouver happened on home ice, including a series-clinching Game 6 victory in which the Flames came back from a 3-0 deficit to win, 7-4.
“This building is similar to Winnipeg because it feels like the fans are right on top of you,” he says. “It’s going to be all red, it’s going to be loud and it’s going to be exciting. We’re going to have to weather the storm and keep it simple. They’re going to come out energized like they have been the entire playoffs.”