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New York Islanders hire former Laker coach Jeff Jackson as an assistant
July 26, 2003
SAULT STE. MARIE - Former Lake Superior State hockey coach Jeff Jackson has been a head coach during 90 percent of his storied career.
Until this year, his only extended tenure as an assistant coach was while working under Frank Anzalone at LSSU. Now he's back in an assistant's role - in the National Hockey League.
On Thursday, Jackson, 48, and former Atlanta Thrashers head coach Curt Fraser, 45, were named assistant coaches under New York Islanders head coach Steve Stirling.
Jackson's varied coaching resume includes stints in the Michigan National Hockey League (AAA midget), North American Junior Hockey League, college hockey, United States National Team Development Program and Ontario Hockey League. He was the head coach at LSSU from 1990-96 and led the Lakers to six NCAA Tournament appearances and national championships in 1992 and '96.
Jackson's responsibilities with the Islanders will be outlined when the coaching staff meets in August, but he expects to be working with the defense while Fraser will handle the offensive end of the ice. Stirling made it clear, however, that he wants his coaching staff working together as a team.
"I'm looking forward to it (being an assistant coach)," said Jackson from his summer home in Sault Ste. Marie. "I'll get to focus on doing things that revolve around the development of the player and the specifics of the game. I'm looking forward to working with Steve and Curt."
Jackson, who has "covered the gamut" in his coaching career, passed up a chance to coach in the Hartford Whalers organization in 1995 in order to stay at LSSU. Now he's getting another chance to coach in the NHL and he hopes to help the Islanders bring back the glory days that included a Stanley Cup title in 1980.
"For a number of years they have had difficult times,...but general manager Mike Milbury is doing some things so they can keep top young players," Jackson said.
Jackson described the Islanders as a young team with talent and depth. He said it is difficult for any NHL team to have both without stable ownership.
Stirling was looking for assistants with head coaching experience and a talent for developing young players.
"I wanted to put together a staff with a lot of experience at all levels of the game," Stirling stated in an Islanders press release. "To be able to bring in a man like Curt Fraser, who had a long NHL career as a player and was a head coach in the NHL the last four seasons in the Eastern Conference, is a huge benefit to me. And it's not every day that you get to hire a man who was the head coach of two NCAA champions as your assistant, so I'm thrilled Jeff Jackson accepted my invitation to be part of the Islanders family."
Jackson has been connected with the Islanders since former USNTDP assistant coach Greg Cronin brought the team's off-season prospects camp to Ann Arbor, which is the home base of the USNTDP. Jackson was a consultant to the Islanders at this year's NHL Draft.
Jackson was instrumental in starting the USNTDP and coached in the national program for four years. He was the head coach of the OHL's Guelph Storm for two-plus seasons. In addition to his NCAA titles, he was an assistant coach in the 1998 Olympics with Team USA and coached in the 2002 Memorial Cup with the Guelph Storm.
"Both Curt and Jeff are intense competitors and very sharp technically," Stirling said. "I'm looking forward to getting to work."
Jackson's experience with international and OHL hockey have prepared him for the long and demanding NHL season. Gone are the days of two-hour collegiate practices every day before a weekend series.
"A lot of practice time is spent in a video environment or a meeting environment," Jackson said. "Team practices are very short, and there are is a lot of individual skill work done after practice. Practices are quite a bit shorter because of the travel schedule. There is not as much time to practice, and you have to consider the wear-down on the players."
Lake Superior State Men's Ice Hockey