Sports

Demers ready to make playoff impression for Sharks


Jason Demers, with the San Jose Sharks, recently found out that he has a Jewish background on his father’s side of the family. Jason Demers, with the San Jose Sharks, recently found out that he has a Jewish background on his father’s side of the family.

 

Whether achieving his childhood dream of playing in the National Hockey League despite being passed over in two consecutive entry drafts or discovering his Jewish ancestry, San Jose defenceman Jason Demers takes life events in stride. As the Sharks’ Stanley Cup playoff drive begins this week he will be counted on as a key contributor.

The Dorval, PQ native, 23, only learned about his Jewish background a couple months ago.

“We all received the news at the same time. (Being Jewish) is on my father’s side of the family tree,” stated Demers. “It all came as a little bit of a surprise, but we welcomed it. I’m curious about every religion because it’s a different way of looking at the world. Obviously having that new-found heritage makes me curious.”

Growing up, his parents asked him to decide on hockey or soccer “as their seasons…overlapped.

“My older brother and my dad played hockey and that sport became my passion.”

He played in the Hockey West Island minor hockey organization for nine seasons and was drafted in 2004 by Moncton Wildcats of the QMJHL.

“Leaving home at age 16 and moving so far away was a significant adjustment period for me.”

In 2005-06 the Wildcats focus on winning the Memorial Cup with veterans meant Demers spent most of his time on the bench.

“With not enough playing time I knew I needed to advance my career elsewhere.”

In late December 2005 he was traded to Victoriaville Tigers for goaltender Josh Tordjman (Jewish Tribune, Feb. 22, 2007)) “and was confident I could help my new team jump start their offence.”

He recorded 25 points in 33 games and then 24 points the next season.

Determined to prove himself to NHL teams who overlooked him, Demers in summer 2007 attended San Jose’s development camp. He excelled in the 2007-08 Tigers season, leading all QMJHL defencemen with 9 goals and 55 assists in 67 games.

“I was placed on the first defence pairing and carried the offensive team load.”

Despite that great season, Demers had few NHL expectations.

“My dad watched my name being called in the draft (2008, 7th round, 186th overall). I was very happy, pleasantly surprised and proud a great team like San Jose picked me.”

His favourite players are Detroit’s Nicklas Lidstrom and Ottawa’s Sergei Gonchar.

“Competing against both players achieved a great dream and was very awe inspring.”

He considers himself a solid two-way defenceman.

“The NHL is a great league and there’s high risk being too offensively minded. I’ve emphasized the defensive side of my game during my professional career.”

Demers had 33 points in 2008-09 with the Sharks AHL affiliate in Worcester. Starting 2009-10 with San Jose was “a great lifelong dream coming true and I enjoyed the honour of being in the opening game lineup,” he said. 4 goals and 17 assists in 51 games included He scored his first NHL goal on Nov. 15 against Chicago and went on to score 4 goals and 17 assists that season.

He also spent time in Worcester that year with 17 points in 25 games.

“It was tough season back and forth between leagues, but watching great defenceman with the offensive upside of Dan Boyle and two-way play of Rob Blake, helped me greatly.”

In 2010-11 Demers had 2 goals and 22 assists in 75 games and led all Sharks with a plus 19. During this season’s NHL lockout he played with Oulun Karpat in Finland’s top hockey league.

“I got my game back to where I wanted it to be and given greater responsibilities,” said Demers who played for Canada at the Spengler Cup tourney in Switzerland last December.

“I was very proud to play for my country and wear the Canadian jersey.”

He suffered a broken wrist during Canada’s gold medal win putting him on the injury shelf till early February and at press time has 1 goal and 2 assists in 22 games.

“I’m playing with veteran defenceman Brad Stuart, follow his lead and let him do what he does best. We have a great lineup gaining more confidence as playoffs approach and peaking the right time.”

Demers hopes to develop as a consistent defenceman “who can be counted on in crucial situations at both ends of the ice. I look forward to contribute to a Sharks team that will contend to win the Stanley Cup for years to come.”

Email j_borenstein@hotmail.com   www.twitter.com/JackJaybee

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