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Thursday, 18 April 2013 11:33

Jason Jaffray named man of the year by Ice Caps

Written by  Brad Brown
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Jason Jaffray named man of the year by Ice Caps Photo courtesy St. John's Ice Caps

Even the most diehard of the hockey diehards would have a hard time recalling the last time Jason Jaffray was part of a team that missed the playoffs.


Count Jaffray himself among them.
The answer can be found roughly half a lifetime ago — at least 15 years, 14 teams and four leagues in the rear-view mirror to be more precise. It’s a virtual eternity in the hockey world and the object in the mirror is not closer than it appears.
With his St. John’s IceCaps officially eliminated from the American Hockey League playoffs and the regular season ending Sunday, Jaffray barely knows how to react.
“I have no idea,” said the St. John’s captain, who played 41 games with the Swift Current Broncos in 2001-02. “It really scares me having that much time off. I don’t know what I’m going to do with myself.”
The silver lining is that Jaffray has a say in the matter at all. He wants to go golfing, something he didn’t do once last summer. In fact, Jaffray didn’t even finish the hockey season.
He couldn’t, after a hit from Tampa Bay Lightning prospect Radko Gudas on March 28, 2012, landed him in the hospital for spinal fusion surgery in his neck.
Post-surgery he lost, then regained, feeling in his right arm and eventually returned to the IceCaps’ lineup Oct. 24.
“I had a very serious injury and I didn’t know if I was going to be able to play again,” Jaffray said. “It was the Peyton Manning injury, the same thing as him and I was just lucky enough to get lots of treatment throughout the season.”
The IceCaps were officially eliminated from the AHL playoff race last weekend with a pair of losses to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
In reality, the damage was done much earlier through a series of key injuries and the NHL recalls of top defencemen Derek Meech, Zach Redmond and fellow Broncos alum Paul Postma.
“We went from having one of the best D corps in the league to having one of the youngest D corps in the league,” said Jaffray. “It’s nothing against the guys that are here now because they are playing hard too, but it’s really tough to lose guys like Redmond and Postma and Derek Meech, who were probably three of the most talented and offensively-gifted defencemen in the league.”
That’s put extra offensive pressure on guys like Jaffray. The second-oldest player on the team, he is also second this year in goals (15), points (47), power play goals (five) and shots (145) to go along with a team-leading 32 assists.
But nowhere was his leadership more evident than in the community.
School and hospital visits, minor hockey involvement and a Christmas project to provide supper and gifts for the less fortunate all conspired to earn Jaffray the IceCaps’ Man of the Year award April 11.
When his contract expires at the end of this season, Jaffray’s intentions are clear.
“My family loves being in St. John’s, my kids love being here also and we’d love to come back,” he said. “It’s a team that treats you extremely well … and a top-class organization. It’s tough to compare the treatment of the players or the top-end trainers and coaches or to think anyone could do it much better.”

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