Following the 1994-95 season the Toronto Maple Leafs had already lost Sylvain Lefevbre and Bob Rouse the previous season and then veteran Garth Butcher retired and Grant Jennings was released leaving their blue line corps thin and the prospect cupboard bare. Then-General Manager Cliff Fletcher took a step toward rectifying this by using the Leafs 1995 first round draft pick to select defenseman Jeff Ware of the Oshawa Generals.
Ware's Junior career was highlighted by his inclusion on the Canadian Junior Team in 1997 that went undefeated in the tournament en route to the nation's fifth-straight gold medal win.
Though the Leafs had high hopes for the big defenseman, he only played 15 games for them during his time in the organization. When it became clear that Ware wasn't part of Toronto's future the Leafs traded him to the Florida Panthers in exchange for winger David Nemirovsky on February 17, 1999.
In South Florida things didn't go much better as Ware was limited to just six games with the Panthers, though he did register his first NHL point when he notched an assist.
When the Panthers elected not to resign Ware his became a free agent and hoped to catch on with the expansion Columbus Blue Jackets but failed to impress during their in augural training camp. However, after playing well with their farm team that season he earned a contract with them the next year, though he was still playing in the minors.