Tim Jackman’s stint with the New York Islanders was all about one thing: Fisticuffs.
Before Matt Martin became the Isles resident tough guy, it was Jackman who filled that position.
Jackman, a native of Minot, ND, played three seasons for the Islanders from 2007 through 2010. He found his way to Long Island as a free agent in the summer of 2007 after flip-flopping back and forth between the AHL and NHL with Columbus, Phoenix (now Arizona), and Los Angeles years prior. Jackman didn’t make the varsity after training camp, but he only waited a few weeks after the season got underway before getting the call up in early November.
Jackman’s first game as an Islander was against who else, the hated New York Rangers. “I remember some of the battles we had with those guys,” he said via email.
One of the reasons Jackman was brought up was to beef up the lineup for nights like those. He shared the same sentiment when he would see the Devils, Penguins, and Flyers on the other side as well.
Still in the same pattern from his previous stops, Jackman spent time in both Bridgeport and Long Island his first season — 44 with the Sound Tigers and 36 with the Isles.
When he was up with the big club, it was Ted Nolan’s coaching that allowed him to really grow as a player.
“Ted was a coach about simplicity and working hard for each other,” Jackman said. “It was a great learning experience under him.”
One thing fans became accustomed to seeing from the burly Jackman during that first campaign: his fighting ability. Jackman had gained a reputation when he was in the minors for dropping the gloves on more than one occasion. In his 36 appearances that year, Jackman fought nine times according to www.hockeyfights.com. One of his most memorable bouts came against Florida’s Steve Montador in early January when both went blow for blow.
That season took a downturn for the Isles early, but Jackman was never afraid to give his team a pick-me-up when they needed it.
“I had to find a way to play in the NHL and the Islanders gave me a real chance to find a way to make the team,” Jackman said about embracing the role as a fighter. “I started fighting all the time and was willing to do anything for my teammates. I took pride in the fact that I was one guy that was willing to step up and do hard things for the team. I was always trying to say thanks for the opportunity to play for the Islanders and play in the NHL.”
The following season, Jackman once again started the season in the AHL. But after a short 12-game run, he was right back up with the Islanders and stayed for the entire year. One of the reasons he stuck was the bond he formed with new bench boss Scott Gordon.
“Scott was a more tactical and very detailed in the teaching of certain concepts and strategies for game plans.” Not sure fighting and hitting was a part of Gordon’s tactical approach, but Jackman excelled in his role, fighting 19 times and leading the team in penalty minutes (155) and hits (151). The 6’2 big man was also able to find ways to produce offensively under Gordon — five goals and seven assists that year.
“Scott tried to make me a better hockey player and help me continue to play in the league.”
That 08-09 campaign also saw a change in direction that the Islanders were moving toward in the future. The brass had decided it was time to go from veteran-heavy to a younger look. For Jackman, he got a first-hand look at that future. Two of those youngsters that stood out: Josh Bailey and Frans Nielsen.
“I will always remember those two. I lived with Bailey and remember the father-son trips we went on with all our fathers. I think the dads had more fun then we did,” Jackman wrote. “I remember Frans always being lights out with his backhand move in shootouts and just the poise that Josh had with the puck at such a young age. Fun guys to be around.”
Watching Bailey and Nielsen wasn’t the only unique thing for Jackman that year. Some might not remember, but he was the recipient of the Bob Nystrom Award (the team award given to the player who beset demonstrates leadership, hustle and dedication). That accomplishment still appeals highly to the former enforcer.
“It was an honor to receive the reward,” Jackman acknowledged. “I appreciate that people recognized that I was trying my hardest every shift. Bob was an incredible player, who played with passion and grit, so to receive a trophy named after him was an honor.”
Jackman’s last season with the Islanders — 2009-10 — was full of fun.
He once again led the team in penalty minutes with 98 and scrapped ten times. But other than making his home in the penalty box, and protecting prized first overall pick John Tavares, Jackman put himself in the record books.
On his 28th birthday, November 14, 2009, Jackman celebrated by scoring the Isles first goal 16 seconds into the game against the Florida Panthers. Little did anybody know, Jackman became the player to score the fastest goal in NHL history for a player on his birthday, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
Jackman was surprised when that fact was told to him.
“I’m not sure if that is a true stat,” he pointed out. “I heard someone may have done it faster. I remember starting that game in Florida and getting a sweet pass from Nate Thompson and putting it in the net. I think Nate was the only one who knew it was my birthday and then told everyone on the bench, it was cool.”
After he became a free agent, Jackman signed with the Calgary Flames. He would play four seasons before he was traded to the Ducks during the 2013-14 season. His tenure in Southern California would last for another three seasons until he was dealt to Chicago. Though he didn’t play a game for the Blackhawks, he continued to stick with Anaheim’s AHL affiliate — the San Diego Gulls — while awaiting to undergo back surgery.
Following the 2015-16 season, Jackman opted out of his contract, thus ending his career as a pro. Technically not retired, he returned to Minnesota State University to complete his degree in Education.
While waiting to finish his degree, Jackman took on the role as an Undergraduate Assistant Coach for the Mavericks Men’s Hockey team. He held that job for two seasons. Once he graduated, Jackman stayed in Minnesota and is now coaching high school prep hockey.
“We are called the Northstar Knights,” Jackman said of his new job. “It’s a Christian Academy through FCA, which is the fellowship of Christian Athletes, trying to help young men develop high character and develop as hockey players.”
Jackman still has the itch to keep playing if he could, but is enjoying coaching and working with youngsters with dreams of playing hockey. Other than coaching, the 36-year old’s main priority is on his wife Chelsey and his two young kids, James and daughter Jane.
Still, despite not actually being retired, Jackman is fond of what the Islanders did for him and his career.
“My teammates, the good times we had, and the laughs,” he said were what he treasured about his time with the franchise. “And the fans? They passionately love the Islanders.”
Jackman ended with this about the kind of teammates he had:
“I remember the guys I played with. Bruno Gervais always came to the rink with messy hair as he had just got out of bed. Mike Sillinger started always calling him loaf head. Then we all did.
“I remember riding the bus when we landed in Edmonton and had a long ride to the hotel. Doug Weight and Billy Guerin talking loud and they talked the whole ride like they were Canadian, with a strong Canadian accent. It was Hilarious! And they were such competitors.”