This is Jean-Francois Jacques. He of the Zach Parise trade, the “Crazy-Train” nickname and the very attractive size/speed combination that had some of us Oilers fans pretty damn excited about his future.
Hold that thought.
Guy Flaming has an article up on his blog about Jacques injury although the Oilers are going to hold onto it for awhile. We’ve talked on this site many times about injuries to prospects and the fact that often when people talk about failed draft picks and horrible draft seasons they overlook the injuries. 2001+ for the Oilers in terms of draft picks with promise would include the names Doug Lynch, Jesse Niinimaki, Jarret Stoll, Marc Pouliot, JF Jacques, Mikhail Joukov, Rob Schremp and Alexandre Plante.
Jacques is/was a favorite of mine. Big men with plus speed are all kinds of interesting to hockey fans. He received attention from hockey men early on, as he was the 10th overall pick (Baie-Comeau’s) in the QMJHL draft on June 16 , 2001. He was 16 and a couple of months when drafted, coming off a nice playoff run with Cap-de-la-Madelaine that spring (39gp, 22-13-35 in the regular season and 10gp, 5-8-13 in the playoffs).
Jacques would grow as a player with the Baie-Comeau Drakkar, going from 10 goals and 136pims in his freshman season to 36 goals and 56pims in his senior year. He turned pro at 20, impressing in the minor leagues and every training camp (he made the opening night roster 2 times, 2006 & 2007) but looking tentative and unable in the show. This past season injuries slowed his progress (read some of it here).
There is at times a tendency to imply things are a certain way, when the facts dictate otherwise. There may be a need to “write history” for JF Jacques and say this back injury did him in, but the facts are that there was a job opening, the Oilers gave him every chance to grab it and when he didn’t Zack Stortini filled the role with aplomb. The two men were drafted in the same year and in the same range (Jacques at 68, Stortini at 94) and one of them is going to have an NHL career while the other has failed in three auditions and now has a back injury that might require surgery.
This is what happens in hockey. When Raimo Summanen and Esa Tikkanen came over from Finland, everyone talked about Summanen becoming 99′s long lost left winger and we all know how that turned out. Hard work, grey matter, listening to the coach, having a terrific toolbox but lacking in another area, all of those could be reasons for this outcome. Luck was in there too, that bitch.
All the best, Jean-Francois Jacques. We’ll leave a light on and hope for your return.