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FEATURE: Jackson a firm fit for unique Oilers hockey operations role

Jul 17, 2023Jul 17, 2023

EDMONTON, AB - For eight of the 13 years Jeff Jackson spent operating as a well-respected player agent representing a breadth of the game's top talent, most notably Connor McDavid, Edmonton became one of his more regular stops around the NHL.

Across that timeframe, he's bared witness to a lot of changes in Oil Country.

"I've had the distinct pleasure over the last eight years of watching the team very closely, with Connor being a big part of that," he said. "I've spent a lot of time in Edmonton. I've watched this team evolve."

Over those regular visits to Oil Country, the 58-year-old watched as OEG Inc. Owner & Chairman Daryl Katz's vision for world-class performance and entertainment flourished in downtown Edmonton through the Oilers and ICE District, creating a perennial partnership that's driven on the ice by McDavid and bolstered off it by the League's most knowledgeable and passionate fans inside the state-of-the-art Rogers Place.

"The vision goes way back. I remember walking through this arena when there was no roof on it. There were no buildings around," Jackson recalled. "There was a plan, and Bob Nicholson and Kevin Lowe at the time presented what the plan was and here we are, eight or nine years later, and you can see the impact on the city and how the team's structured now and where they're at -- I think on the verge of some great years."

For Jackson, who's spent more than his fair share of time in various arenas around North America and Europe taking in their sights and sounds while serving his clients and building connections with various contacts around hockey, the combined efforts of club and community in Oil Country have helped create something that's unmatched anywhere else in the game.

Now, as the incoming Oilers CEO of Hockey Operations, the job for Jackson shifts to how his extended resume as a former player, an agent and NHL executive can help sustain the Oilers long-term success and achieve their aspirations of bringing a Stanley Cup back to Edmonton.

"I spent a lot of nights in this building watching the team and I felt the energy and the passion of the fans. It's an unparalleled building," he said.

"In the role of agent, you go around the league and see a lot of games and sit in a lot of buildings. I think that this place is unparalleled, and I hope to be able to help Kenny get this team to a point where that fanbase is even more proud."

Video: RAW | Jeff Jackson, Ken Holland 08.03.23

After an eight-year playing career from 1984-92 that included 263 NHL games played for the Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers, Quebec Nordiques and Chicago Blackhawks, Jackson retired from professional hockey and practiced corporate and entertainment law before joining the Maple Leafs' front office as Assistant General Manager and Director of Hockey Operations in 2006.

Four years later, Jackson left the Maple Leafs and founded his own agency, with former Oilers first-round pick Sam Gagner serving as his first-ever client. In the 13 years since that have led up to his official hiring by the Oilers on Aug. 3, Jackson has helped build Wasserman Hockey into a leading entity among sports hockey agencies that represents the likes McDavid and Auston Matthews thanks to his extensive knowledge of the industry and its many different facets.

"I think that being an agent is unique and it's really not an easy job," Jackson said. "It's a lot of late nights at rinks and different things, and you're kind of flying all over the place and you're seeing your clients, but you do get a chance to see a lot of people in unique spots.

"You run into people all the time, so I think what I can bring from all those relationships is just to continue to use all of the networks that I have to try to find out information, to trade information, and to find out what's going on in the league."

Together, Jackson possesses a unique hockey curriculum vitae that fits the mould perfectly for a unique position in the League as Oilers CEO of Hockey Operations, where he'll oversee all aspects of OEGSE's NHL, AHL and WHL hockey operations while working closely with GM & President of Hockey Operations Ken Holland.

"I've talked a lot to Jeff and he's got an incredible resume," Holland said. "What I've found through my time in the NHL is when you're an agent, you talk to 32 GMs and have a real understanding of how 32 teams operate. I think Jeff's going to bring a lot of information to the Edmonton Oilers and to our Hockey Ops department that's going to help make us better."

Jackson is approaching his new opportunity hoping to use his experience to put the finishing touches on the foundation that's been built in recent seasons by Daryl Katz, Ken Holland, Bob Nicholson and Jay Woodcroft, while setting the Oilers up for long-term success.

"Part of what my role is going to be is looking at the entirety of the organization," Jackson said. "I think for me right now, my focus is starting today by spending a lot of time with Ken and learning a little bit more about the organization. I've been around the team for eight years, but I don't know the inner workings of the team. I don't know all the scouts. I don't know how Ken runs things. I need to get to know all that stuff.

"I have no preconceived ideas about what I want to do. We're going to make some assessments as we go. We'll see how the team's doing, and then when the time comes to make decisions, I'll be ready for it."