By Ken Wiebe
The Winnipeg Sun
WINNIPEG, Manitoba – Go ahead and call him Mr. Versatility.
Jason Jaffray, who was named First Team All-ECHL and to the ECHL All-Rookie Team while also being voted ECHL Rookie of the Year in 2003-04, has done just about everything for the Manitoba Moose this season, outside of manning the point or strapping on the pads to take a few shots.
Sure there have been some trying times, like when Jaffray, who was voted as a starter in the ECHL All-Star Game in 2003 and 2004, spent three of the first four games this season on the sidelines as a healthy scratch.
And bouncing between the first and fourth lines is never easy.
“It’s different. Obviously, it’s tough to get used to and your emotions are high and low,” said Jaffray, who has nine goals and 38 points in 62 games to sit third in team scoring. “It’s just a matter of keeping your emotions in check because you know you’re going to get your chance. Spots are opening up all over the place and that’s why it’s good to have a guy like me, who the coach feels confident putting at left-wing, right-wing or centre.”
These days, Jaffray certainly likes the view, as he’s skating between snipers Lee Goren and Jason King on Manitoba’s No. 1 unit.
For the most part, Jaffray has done everything in his power to nail down a regular spot at the American Hockey League level for the first time in his four-year professional career.
Jaffray put the early scratches behind him and has earned the respect of Alain Vigneault, who shifted the natural left-winger to centre for much of the season.
“I like the way he’s been able to adjust to whatever position we’ve put him in — he’s done a remarkable job,” said Vigneault. “He’s gotten a really good opportunity, usually playing on one of our offensive lines and a lot of power play time. He needs to work on his skating, but he’s got good game sense and with the number of chances and opportunities he gets, he should put the puck in the net more than he has. But his work ethic and overall play this year is solid. He took the opportunity and ran with it and did a good job. He’s earned it.”