Jason King will forever go down in hockey history as a member of the Mattress Line. That's what they called the line of Daniel and Henrik Sedin and rookie Jason King in 2003-04 season. Two twins and a King, get it?
The native of Cornerbrook, Newfoundland was a likeable forward with good hands around the net. He had a strong junior career with the Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL, but he was a late bloomer. He never even bothered going to his own NHL draft, figuring he would not get picked at all.
But the Canucks took a chance on King in the 7th round, taking him 212th overall. A lot of kids would be discouraged to be drafted so late, but King was delighted.
“When Vancouver selected me, I was thrilled. I was very happy it was a Canadian team. I knew I would have to work harder than I ever had before, but I was definitely looking forward to the challenge. I just tried to keep a positive outlook.”
King always had a mature ability to remain calm and patient when facing hurdles, and it served him well in a 9 year professional career, including stops in Anaheim and Europe.
The right-winger dedicated himself the rest of the summer and erupted with a final QMJHL season where he was virtually unstoppable, scoring 63 times in 61 games, ending the campaign with 99 points, along with another 17 in 13 post-season contests.
Suddenly he was on the prospect radar, but he remained level-headed about his future.
“A lot of things still had to fall in place,” he said. “All I could do was play my best hockey. If I did that, I really couldn't be too disappointed.”
In 2002-03, King had his first taste of NHL action, albeit briefly, appearing in eight games with the Canucks, posting two assists. The right-winger spent the majority of the season with Manitoba of the American Hockey League, notching 20 goals in 67 games with the Moose.
That performance prompted Vancouver to give King a legitimate shot at cracking the line-up in 2003, a tough challenge for any aspiring NHLer, even more so when you consider the talent quotient on the Canucks.
Knowing it was the break he had always hoped for, King didn't give the organization much of an option in determining his fate, performing strongly throughout camp, holding his own against such stout scorers as 2003 Lester B. Pearson Award winner Markus Naslund and premiere power forward Todd Bertuzzi.
The result? A well deserved spot on the roster.
Simply making the grade, however, wasn't enough for King, who would eventually team up with the Sedin twins, Henrik and Daniel, to form a dangerous trio at both ends of the rink.
“I definitely wanted to fit in and contribute and it's worked out well so far. I think the three of us bring something different to the rink. We really work well off one another. They're great at cycling the puck and that really gives me some good chances to put the puck in the net.”
The line was definitely fit for a King. Though their tenure together was brief, King was one of the very first wingers to benefit from playing with the brilliant Sedin twins.
King would spend the lockout season with the Canucks farm team in Manitoba. When the NHL finally returned a year later, King would not find a roster spot on the deep Canucks team. He was destined for another year in the minor leagues.
"I just have to keep playing as hard as I can and capitalize on my opportunities. I have to believe I will get another opportunity."
King did get another opportunity, though it was not with the Canucks. In the summer of 2007 the Canucks traded King to Anaheim for an undersized speedster named Ryan Shannon.
King would play just 4 games with the Ducks that season, spending the rest of the year in the minors. He jumped at a chance to earn bigger money playing in Germany.