|Tim Jackman played for Minnesota State from 2000-02|
before embarking on a pro career that saw him play for
six NHL teams in 12 seasons. He's now a student-assistant
coach for the Mavericks
Most kids who grow up playing the game of hockey in Minnesota dream of one day making it to the National Hockey League.
Born in Minot, N.D., Tim Jackman’s father worked for the railroad and was often transferred all over the nation for work. Following a few years in Brooklyn Park, Minn., and a year in Texas while Tim was in seventh grade, the family moved back to Minneapolis, where his hockey career began to flourish. And following two years of varsity hockey at Park Center High School and a short stint with the Twin Cities Vulcans of the United States Hockey League, where he had 11 goals and 19 assists in 25 games following his senior year of high school, he headed to Mankato for his freshman year of college hockey with the Mavericks.
“I loved the opportunity they were willing to give me by taking a chance to let me play right after my high school season so I thought that it would be a great step in my development as a player,” said Jackman on his decision to play college hockey for Minnesota State.
Jackman played two seasons for the Mavericks where he had 25 goals and 28 helpers in 73 games and it was his after his freshman season in 2001 when he was selected in the second round, 38th overall, by Columbus in the 2001 National Hockey League Draft.
He said he had known Columbus was interested after having a few meetings with them before he was drafted. “Growing up I wasn’t much of an NHL fan, I watched the North Stars a little, and was a big Wayne Gretzky fan. But I really watched a lot of college hockey though, so I never envisioned myself being drafted or playing in the NHL, I just couldn’t see it. It all just happened pretty fast.”
He signed with the Blue Jackets following his sophomore year with Minnesota State, but looks back fondly of his time as a student-athlete in the Key City. “The community and the fans were great,” said Jackman. “The buildup of the weekdays going into the weekend and with the opportunity play college hockey on Friday and Saturday nights with a great group of guys was special.” He also noted that the college hockey model was an important ingredient in his development as a player with the practice to games ratio, along with strength and conditioning during the year serving in his growth as an athlete.
Jackman began his pro career with Syracuse, the American Hockey League affiliate for Columbus. He played there for a year and a half before making his NHL debut on December 20, 2003 in a game against the Minnesota Wild in St. Paul. By doing so, he became the first former Maverick to play a game in the NHL.
Last year, at the age of 33 and going into his 12th pro season, Jackman went to camp with Anaheim, but was experiencing back problems. Following two games with the Ducks he was sent to San Diego of the AHL where he played another 22 games before surgery ended his year. Having forged a professional career and playing a physical game that saw him tally 32 goals and 43 assists for 75 points in 483 games over a span of 12 seasons with six different NHL teams, it was at this point where the big forward decided he needed to start turning his attention to things outside of his hockey career.
Now at the age of thirty four he decided to return Mankato, starting a new chapter for his family, which includes his wife, Chelsey, an 18-month old son and another child on the way.
With a desire to finish his degree, but wanting to continue on with the game, he received the perfect opportunity from Mike Hastings and his staff, joining Minnesota State as a student assistant coach.
“This is something that I have really gotten excited about,” says Jackman, who assists with practice, reviewing game tape and strategy. “I just want to be someone that can help pass the message to the players, and sometimes just encourage the players when I see something by trying to explain it and help them out by relating it to what the coaches want. I just want to be a positive influence to the program as a whole.” By working with Hastings and the rest of the coaching staff, Jackman characterizes his work as "great opportunity to learn some new things. I truly admire the way Coach Mike Hastings carries himself and treats his players. He is very honest with his players, he really cares. It’s great for the players to know it’s a safe place to make a mistake because as long as you’re playing hard and learn from it, and you’re having fun with it that’s all that matters.”
So in a back-to-the-future kind of way, it’s hitting the books for Jackman. And while he’s working toward the next phase of his professional career, one in which he will likely teach and coach, he’s also assisting young student-athletes prepare for the next aspect of their careers. For Tim Jackman, it’s come full cycle.