Barret Jackman is basically the total opposite of Rivers. Jackman would have been perfect playing in the 1990’s or even the 1980’s.
As his career went on, Blues fans forgot how good he could be. The narrative got spoiled because the game changed right when he came into the league.
Jackman was only in the league two seasons, one of which was shortened by injury, when the NHL lost a season to the lockout. That’s when the league changed their rules and players like Jackman were forced to adapt. To say he struggled a little might be understating it.
Jackman’s NHL was the clutch-and-grab style of the older days. He was still young enough to make the transition when it happened, but when you tailored your game a certain way for much of your younger career, and your physical attributes don’t match what the NHL was shifting toward, it makes it harder to switch.
Jackman’s footwork was not the best. He made up for it with grit and strength.
That was perfect for the league he came into. That’s exactly why he won the Calder Trophy for best rookie in the NHL.
That was proof that he was meant to be a pro player and was going to have a great career. He only ended up having a good career because things changed and he was slow to change with it.
Jackman started taking too many silly penalties after the lockout because he was still used to holding a guy back with his stick or grabbing their waist in the corner. Old habits die hard.
Sadly, one might make the case Jackman could have been an All-Star or even a Hall of Fame defender if the rules had stayed the same. Perhaps that’s a stretch, but his career would have been looked on with a lot more favor by Blues fans if he had played in the previous decade.