If you like feel-good stories about fighting back from adversity, you’ve probably already taken note of J.F. Jacques’s comeback story with the Oilers.

Jacques, 23, played just his fifth game of the season last night against the Wild, but the fact he’s back on the blades at all is good news for the six-foot-four, 227-pound winger considering he’s overcome off-season surgery to repair a bulging disc in his back.

The injury, suffered in a minor-league scrap in January of 2008, not only put his career on hold, but threatened to end it.

Jacques, selected in the third round of the 2003 entry draft, has bounced up and down between the AHL and the Oilers since draft day, which has been difficult enough.

Unable to make the kind of impact he’d hoped for at the NHL level — Jacques faced Minnesota with just one goal in 57 games with the Oilers — he’s seen younger prospects like Sam Gagner and Andrew Cogliano zip past him on the depth chart. Then, the injury. When rest and physical therapy didn’t solve the problem, the decision was made that he would have a discsectomy. The procedure was done in Denver last September.

“I’ve got a really old back for a guy my age,” smiles Jacques.


Fresh from being named CIS coach of the year with the Alberta Golden Bears, it's probably a lock that Eric Thurston will have the interim tag removed from his coaching credentials and be re-signed, no?

With two CIS titles to his credit and an 84-26-2 conference record (.759) since assuming the position after Rob Daum left to join the Oilers in 2005-06, you’d think so.

Still, with the Bears bounced from the 2009 CIS finals in two games, I wonder if there’s a decision to make if somebody like, say, former Oiler Dean Clark, WHL and CHL coach of the year with the Calgary Hitmen in 1998, was to throw his hat in the ring?

Clark, 45, was let go as coach and GM of the Kamloops Blazers early in the 2007-08 season after a group including Jarome Iginla and Shane Doan took ownership of the team, and he’s been in Edmonton since.

Clark’s a sharp guy who should be behind somebody’s bench.