Hackett grew up studying Tony Esposito, his idol, and patterned his game after him. He was drafted by the New York Islanders in the second round of the 1987 NHL Entry Draft after playing in juniors for the London Diamonds and the Oshawa Generals. Behind Billy Smith and Kelly Hrudey on the Islanders' goaltending depth chart, Hackett split his first two seasons with New York and the Saint John Flames of the AHL. He led the Screech Owls to a Calder Cup win in 1990 and was awarded the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy, annually given to the most valuable player of the playoffs.
After spending the entirety of 1990–91 with the Islanders, the San Jose Sharks claimed him in the 1991 NHL Expansion Draft. During his first season in San Jose, Hackett was named team MVP for his play. However after winning only two games in 1992-93, one of them a Shark record 57 save effort over the Kings, Hackett was dealt to the Chicago Blackhawks prior to 1993–94 and he backed up Ed Belfour for several seasons. His excellent play in 1996–97 allowed the Blackhawks to trade Belfour to San Jose during mid-season. His only full season as Chicago's top goaltender, 1997–98, was highlighted by a career-high eight shutouts.
A month into 1998–99, Hackett was involved in a six-player trade which sent him to the Montreal Canadiens. He quickly became a fan favorite in Montreal as he recorded career highs in games played (63) and wins (26). After another solid season in 1999–2000, Hackett was limited to 15 games in 2000–01 and 18 games in 2001–02 due to a shoulder injury and lost the starter's job to 2002 Vezina Trophy winner José Théodore in the process. This signaled the end of his career with Montreal as mid-way through 2002–03 he was involved in a three-way trade which sent him back to San Jose temporarily and then on to the Boston Bruins.
The Bruins, who had been looking for a number one goaltender, threw Hackett into that role. After shutting out Philadelphia in his Boston debut, Hackett played well until a broken finger caused him to miss time including the start of the Bruins' playoff series with New Jersey, forcing Boston to go with Steve Shields.
Hackett signed on the first day of free agency with the Philadelphia Flyers during the off-season. He started his Flyers career by posting two shutouts in his first two games, also accumulating a record of 9 wins, 2 losses and 6 ties in his first 17 games. However, in December he lost six starts in a row and following a win in early January, lost his next two starts. He was diagnosed with vertigo on January 22 and after a one game rehab stint with the AHL's Philadelphia Phantoms on February 6, Hackett retired on February 9, 2004. Hackett finished his career after appearing in 500 NHL regular season games.
Read more about this topic: Jeff Hackett
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