This time around, we look at a former NHLer who looked like he had finally tapped into the talent that many felt would make him a star. We look at just what the hell happened to Jason Allison.
Allison, a standout with the Ontario Hockey League’s London Knights, was selected 17th overall in the 1993 NHL Draft by the Washington Capitals. His deft playmaking skills and huge frame (6’3″, 210) made him a tantalizing prospect. He needed to improve his skating but it looked like the Caps may have had a potential star on their hands.
As he lit up Juniors, scouts were drooling. He certainly didn’t hinder their expectations after leading all of Major Juniors in scoring, making the first All-Star Team and winning the CHL player of the year.
With high expectations curbed thanks to the lockout that cut the 1994-95 season in half, Allison was sent back to London where he averaged more than two points per game. He would tally 15 points in just 7 games to help Canada win it’s second straight World Junior Championship gold medal and was named to the tournament All-Star team.
He would spend the majority of the 1995-96 season in the AHL, struggling with the tighter checking and more physical game than he was used to in the offensive-minded OHL.
His big break would come soon but not as a member of the Caps.
During the 1996-97 season, Allison was involved in a blockbuster deal. He, fellow prospect Anson Carter, and former Vezina Trophy winner Jim Carey were sent to Boston in exchange for goalie Bill Ranford and forwards Rick Tocchet and Adam Oates. Many focused on Carey, the former star, as the center piece of the deal for Boston not realizing just what they had in Allison.
Allison exploded for 33 goals and 83 points over his 81 games in 1997-98, leading the Bruins to the playoffs and finishing ninth in the NHL scoring race. Unfortunately for Allison, he couldn’t lead them past his former team in the first round, bowing out in six games.
The following season, Allison took a small step back but proved his success was not an aberration. His 76 points in 82 games wasn’t good enough to land in the top ten this time but it was enough to lead the B’s back to the playoffs. He would tally 11 points in 12 games, leading the Bruins to the second round of the playoffs for the first time in five seasons. They would be ousted in six games by eventual Stanley Cup runner-up Buffalo and the nearly unbeatable Dominik Hasek.
It was during the 1999-00 season that we would get a glimpse of what would become of Jason Allison. Hampered by a serious wrist injury, Allison managed 28 points in 37 games, playing through the pain the entire time before finally opting for surgery and ending his season.
Allison would return with an absolute vengeance in 2000-01 as part of the “GAS” line with Bill Guerin and Sergei Samsonov. Setting a new career mark for goals (36) and points (95), placing him in a tie for fourth in league scoring.
The Bruins, who missed the playoffs, decided to shake things up by dealing Allison, a budding star in the NHL, to Los Angeles with Mikko Eloranta in exchange for center Jozef Stumpel and winger Glen Murray.
Allison’s first season in Los Angeles, he posted 74 points in 73 games and helped nearly upset the Colorado Avalanche in the first round of the playoffs. Unfortunately for Allison, the 2001-02 season would be his last bit of sustained success.
Knee and concussion issues saw him play only 22 games in 2002-03 and took him ou for the entire 2003-04 season, fairly earning him the “fragile” tag. The league would again lock its players out for the 2004-05 season, meaning Allison hadn’t played in an NHL game in two and a half years by the time the 2005-06 season rolled around.
The Toronto Maple Leafs gave Allison another shot and it looked as though he may have still had it in him with 60 points in 66 games but was again injured, requiring hand surgery that ended his season. Toronto chose not to re-sign Allison because new head coach Paul Maurice and GM John Ferguson did not feel Allison’s poor skating abilities and age would be a proper fit for their new, young, fast-paced team.
Despite supposedly having several contract offers, Allison did not sign with a team for the 2006-07 season. It wouldn’t be until the start of the 2009-10 season that the former star pivot would attempt his comeback, receiving a tryout with the Maple Leafs.
Despite a memorable moment in camp where he fought Philadelphia’s Darroll Powe during an exhibition game and ripped his helmet in half with his bare hands, Allison’s comeback bid was over as head coach Ron Wilson admitted that Allison was “out of the plans.”
The big centerman with some of the best hands in the league, the burgeoning Boston star, was done at age 34.
Allison now spends his time as owner and operator of a horse farm north of Toronto.
Once upon a time thought of as the NHL’s next great center, Jason Allison enjoyed a few seasons that most NHLers would consider a great career. He enjoyed his moment in the sun and Kings fans will always wonder just what he might have been if not for injuries.
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