SUN Hockey Pool

Jacques resumes quest

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:27 AM ET

DALLAS -- After waiting 53 NHL games spread out over three seasons without registering a single point, J.F. Jacques returned to the Oilers after a year on the shelf and got an assist in the first period.

The big winger, on the comeback trail after back surgery, looked pretty good last night in his first game back.

He didn't play that much, just over two minutes, but gave and took a few big hits and finished plus-one.

He says the back injury is a non-issue.

"I'm not concerned at all," he said. "It was a really good thing for me to have eight games down there (Springfield) in a short stint. I got into a scrap down there and got a couple of hits and it felt good. I feel like I can bring a little bit of physical play up here."

It also helped that he spent a month practising with the Oilers before the Springfield stint. Every day after practice, assistant coach Kelly Buchberger would grind him in skating drills.

"I hated Bucky at the time, but I have to thank him now," said Jacques, who last played an NHL game Oct. 30, 2007 against Detroit.

Head coach Craig MacTavish says Jacques at the top of his game could bring a valuable stretch-drive element.

"He's going to add some enthusiasm and some physical play, that's what we need him to do, come out banging."

Now Jacques has to resume the quest he was on before the injury: trying to establish himself as a full-time NHLer.

"I want to prove to the management here that I can stick up here for the rest of the season and help the team push to the playoffs," he said.


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