EThere is a saying among ice hockey professionals. Christoph Ullmann, former national player, now TV expert and player advisor, told him these days: "In the dressing room, people often say: They didn't even give the coach a winter jacket." Who knows if it's still there in the cold season is? The exception according to Ullmann: Don Jackson. "He has a lot of winter jackets in his closet." There are 17, to be exact.
The latest copy with the Red Bull Munich coat of arms was released a few weeks ago, when preparations began for Jackson's 17th season as boss behind the gang in the German Ice Hockey League (DEL). The season started at the weekend. And on Sunday there was an anniversary when Don Jackson experienced his 1000th DEL game. As the first coach ever.
As a player on the sunny side
And of course he is also the most successful, winning the championship eight times, five times with Berlin and three times with Munich. Jackson was honored before Sunday's top game against Mannheim. DEL boss Gernot Tripcke presented a ring that the league had made. The Munich gave framed. And a film was running on the video cube in which companions, including NHL legend Mark Messier, were allowed to say good things about the celebrant.
Even as a player, Jackson had been on the sunny side, winning the Stanley Cup twice with the Edmonton Oilers alongside Messier and Wayne Gretzky. However, the 66-year-old does not like hype about himself, preferring to stay in the background. At press conferences, he only speaks a few sentences in German, which he reads off a piece of paper. He then answers questions in English, but just as quietly, briefly and innocuously. Even on his anniversary, he remained modest: "All I can do is be thankful for the opportunity to coach here."
Sounds a bit boring, but that's only one side. Players or colleagues speak highly of Jackson. From people and from the trainer. He has a special sense of when to leave his players alone and when to tighten the reins. Added to this is his expertise, even older players he does better. The result: He won more than 650 of his 1000 games.
For Tripcke, Jackson is "a huge asset to the league." However, he is “not always the dear, older gentleman in the dressing room, as everyone thinks”. You know "that there is a volcano in him". It's rarely seen by the public, but when it erupts, things get violent. At a North American game in the mid-1990s, Jackson climbed over Plexiglas to punch the opponent's mascot, Sir Slapshot.
And in 2019 he yelled "Fuck you!" at the referee ten times at a Champions League game in Switzerland, which was heard live on television. It didn't damage his reputation. Neither does his winter jacket collection.