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Seven lessons Ric Jackman learned during his globetrotting career

Defenseman Ric Jackman won the Stanley Cup in 2007 with the Anaheim Ducks. As it turns out, hoisting the Cup was just the beginning of Jackman's wild hockey journey.

Since winning hockey's grandest prize, Jackman, 37, has crisscrossed the hockey world. He most recently signed with the Braehead Clan of the Elite Ice Hockey League in the United Kingdom, his ninth team in nine different countries since winning the Cup with Anaheim.

Here are just some of the things Jackman, a Toronto native, has learned through his nomadic journey:

Best place to live? South Korea.

"I went to South Korea for two seasons with Anyang Halla. It was above and beyond my expectations. I didn't really know what to expect heading in there. They made you feel at home. It was great living in Seoul. They really took care of me there, a first-class organization. They made life for me and my family quite easy. There are also lots of international schools. Being in the city of Seoul, there is plenty to do, a big American area with restaurants and stuff like that.

"It was like living in downtown Toronto for me. I really enjoyed my time there and it was nice for my family to have a chance to travel with me and go to school abroad. There's not a whole lot of foreigners there, but they welcomed us with open arms. The hockey was surprising to me too. Man, can those Koreans skate."

Japanese food is, well, interesting.

"Last year I had the chance to go up to northern Japan, in Hokkaido. It was more of a small fishing village, so I had to get used to things. There was one McDonald's in town and the rest was all Japanese food.

"I'm not too much into sushi, but I did find a couple of things I didn't mind. We'd go to team events with our owner and there would be some real crazy things there: Pig intestines and octopus, a lot of raw fish, which was something I'm not accustomed to. But you put on a smile and try it out. Some of the stuff was OK, some of it I didn't care for. But I tried it. I didn't want to be rude or anything. You had to do a couple of laps at the grocery store to find what you're looking for."

Traveling the world with your family is great. For a while.

"The first couple of years were great. My family would come with me. But the past two seasons in Hungary and Japan, I've been on my own. My kids are at the age where they're playing pretty much more hockey than I am. With schooling and my wife starting a career back in our hometown of Barrie, Ontario, we're away from each other for quite some time. But we make the most of the opportunities we have to be together.

"My two daughters both play hockey and the oldest one plays on a pretty good girls' program. It wouldn't be fair dragging them over to Japan. I don't know if there is even girls' hockey there. They've become comfortable at home missing dad. It won't be for too much longer, that's for sure."

Leksand, Sweden, is basically hockey's Green Bay.

"I bounced around Sweden for a little bit and played in some really small towns with populations of around 200-300 people. Leksand was one of them, except in the middle of the city there's an 18,000-seat arena that is full every night. There would be 50 buses packed with fans outside the arena. It would be such a crazed atmosphere in the rink. Then you would leave the rink and you'd be in a farming village. People came from all over. That is definitely one of the most interesting places I have played."

World's most underrated (and craziest) league? The Swiss league.

"Some of the arenas in that league are 17,000 people; they're NHL arenas. You get that North American feel from the fans, except they're a little more accessible. They wait out and do their chants by the bus. The other team's fans come over and fights break out. It's an eye-opening experience.

"The quality of hockey is really good, too. The imports they bring in could play in the NHL but are looking for a change. What's nice is it's such a small country, so your road games are an hour away. The top guys in the Swiss league are making the NHL minimum, but you factor in that it's tax-free and they pay for an apartment and a car for you."

Hungary is beautiful, but the names are challenging.

"I went back to the Austrian league, but I was in Hungary. Szekeshfehervar is the name of the team. It's like an eye chart to try and spell it."

Scotland looks like a great place for hockey.

"I wasn't sure what to expect when I signed with Braehead. My agent, Shawn Green, mentioned how crazy the fan base is there and how big hockey is getting in Scotland.

"The afternoon I signed, I had over 1,500 messages and new Twitter followers. I haven't ever experienced an instant fan response like that. I'm looking forward to getting started."


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