Dave Jackson will take the ice one last time as a National Hockey League referee.
Jackson’s 25-year, 1,629-game career will come to a close Thursday night in Los Angeles as the Kings take on the visiting Arizona Coyotes. He’ll be joined on the ice by fellow referee Marc Joannette and linesmen Pierre Racicot and Lonnie Cameron.
The Pointe-Claire, Quebec, native made his NHL debut in his home province, working a December 22, 1990, game between the New Jersey Devils and Quebec Nordiques. That match featured linesmen Ron Asselstine and Ray Scapinello on lines, with Hall of Famer Guy LaFleur on the ice.
Bryan Lewis, then the NHL’s director of referee development, said of Jackson on his debut, “He demonstrated maturity from the first day that I talked to him. I went back to my boss (John McCauley) and told him, ‘This guy can’t miss. I’ll put my mortgage on it.'” Lewis was right.
Jackson finishes his career with 1,546 regular season games and 83 playoff matches. He also suited up for two All-Star Games (2002, 2018). Internationally, Jackson officiated the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
“Dave has been a warrior for our game,” said NHL officiating manager Don Koharski. “He’s battled through some major injuries – like all of us have – but he’s truly been a great team guy. He puts everyone ahead of himself. You’re talking about a guy that loves the game and has a passion for the sport.”
“[This season] he’s probably worked the best I’ve ever seen him work. He’s full of confidence, he’s in a good place, he’s in a comfort zone and sometimes that says a lot. You get in that comfort zone and you just go out and do what you do for 30 years that comes natural to you.”
“This game and his teammates and the rest of us will miss Dave Jackson when he’s gone.”
Jackson will also miss the game.
“Hockey has changed,” he told NHL.com. “I’ve got older and my generation of players I worked with in junior and the American Hockey League, they’ve all retired. And the bulk of the guys I’ve worked with have retired or are about to retire. It’s just time. I had a great career.
“I’m not going to miss the airports, but I’m going to miss being on the road with the guys, some of whom I see more than my family. It’s been that way for my entire career. I’ve been with the NHL for 32 years and a lot of the guys started around the same time I did. I’m going to miss that.”
From the NHLOA:
The Pointe-Claire, QC native started as a minor hockey referee at age 14 in the West Island Hockey Association in the western suburbs of Montreal. As a young official, Jackson spent his first few years learning the officiating craft in the low categories. He reached the inter-city levels after his third season as an official but almost gave up being a minor hockey referee the following year after an ugly incident happened to him outside the local arena in Lachine, QC. Some parents physically attacked him and his officiating partner when exiting the arena after a bantam game. Jackson credits his mentor Doug Hayward for convincing him to stay around the game, reminding him that he had a bright future as a referee. This was 1982.
From this point on, his progression as an official took off and he was going thru the different levels of hockey in the province of Quebec at a furious pace. Jackson reached the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League quickly only a few years later. Then, the National Hockey League got interested in him and invited him to join their defunct “trainee program” in 1985 at age 21, making him one of the youngest officials to be part of this initiative from the NHL that had identified officials traveling across the three different Major Juniors leagues in Canada and some minor professional leagues in the U.S. in order to gain experience and knowledge, providing ready prospects for the big league when they had an official retiring or being terminated. During his “trainee” years, Jackson was selected to work the 1988 Memorial Cup in Chicoutimi, QC where he made great impression on an NHL officiating supervisor attending.
In the summer of 1989, Jackson was offered an NHL minor-leagues referee contract when he was 24. He made his NHL debut on December 22, 1990 in Quebec city at the old Colisée when the New jersey Devils were in town to play the now-defunct Nordiques. He would go on and spend four seasons under an NHL minor-league referee contract before being promoted under an NHL full-time referee status in the summer of 1993. Almost three decades later, Jackson has had many milestones and important assignments during his journey wearing the black and white sweater.
His first NHL Playoffs Game was on April 22nd, 1999 in Raleigh, NC when the Boston Bruins visited the hometown Hurricanes. He was selected to work the 2002 NHL All-Star Game in Los Angeles, CA and was also part of the officiating crew selected to work the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. He also worked an outdoor game on February 27th, 2016 when he skated during the 2016 Coors Light Stadium Series game opposing the Detroit Red Wings and the Colorado Avalanche. Being around for almost three decade also means a lot of hockey games worked. In fact, Jackson worked his 1,000th NHL Regular Season Game back in 2008 (December 20th) in his hometown of Montreal when the Buffalo Sabres visited the Canadiens. He would reach a very exclusive group of referee on January 15th 2018 when he reached the impressive milestone of skating in his 1,500th NHL Regular Season Game in Denver, CO (Ducks vs Avalanche).
When the final buzzer will be heard at the Staples Center in Los Angeles tonight, the NHLOA brotherhood will be loosing a great member and an even better person when then man wearing uniform no.8 will be calling it a career. The NHLOA would like to congratulate referee Dave Jackson for his terrific career and wishes him all the best for his retirement. Well done Jacks!
Congratulations to referee Dave Jackson on a terrific NHL career. All the best in retirement!