John Albert’s NHL career (to date anyway) has only been nine games long. The 175th overall pick of the Atlanta Thrashers in the 2007 NHL Draft, Albert spent the first two years of his pro career with the St. John’s Ice Caps with some small measure of success before breaking out with a fine 2013-14 season where he posted 28 goals and 45 points for the Ice Caps in 63 games played, helping that team to a berth in the Calder Cup final.
In the middle of that season, Albert was called up to the Winnipeg Jets as they were dealing with a handful of injuries to the likes of Evander Kane and Jim Slater. Albert’s name instantly evoked memories for some older hockey fans who remembered a certain Canadian Tire commercial that featured a player named Albert…
To this day, no one knows if Albert was his last name and the kids were calling him by his last name – which would be a little weird – or if his first name was Albert and the hockey team he ended up playing for put his first name on the jersey – which would also be a little weird.
Anyway, we’re not here to talk about that. A day after he was called up to the NHL, John Albert joined the Jets in New York and despite missing the morning skate ended up dressing for the club that night as they took on the New York Rangers. That night, in “The Worlds Most Famous Arena” and in front of his parents who flew in from Cleveland to witness his first NHL game, John Albert pulled off an NHL rarity. A first NHL goal on his first NHL shot in his first NHL game…
Not only was it a first goal on the first shot, but it wasn’t no cheap ‘bank-shot’ type goal either. An excellent defensive read by Dustin Byfuglien who then made a fantastic breakout pass to Albert who as TSN’s Shane Hnidy pointed out at the time, scores the kind of goal that many a top level sniper in the league would envy. Albert at that point became just the third player to score in his debut game with the Thrashers / Jets franchise.
Unfortunately, that was as good as it got for Albert as far as his NHL career was concerned. John Albert played eight more games, not collecting any other points primarily playing on the Jets fourth line. Albert spent a few more seasons with the Ice Caps turned Manitoba Moose before going off to Europe to play for Karpat of SM-Liiga. He returned a season later as a member of the Washington Capitals organization and was traded to the Rangers, but only saw AHL time with both clubs. Albert – now 31 years of age – has spent this past season with the Jacksonville Icemen, the ECHL affiliate of the Winnipeg Jets where before the premature end to the season, he had eight goals and 29 points in 44 games played.
But no matter what happens with his hockey career, Albert has one of the most memorable first goals in Winnipeg Jets history.