At the start of his junior career, Jamie Rivers won a gold medal in the provincial under-17 World Hockey Challenge held in Sudbury in 1992. The championship marked the beginning of a very successful amateur run with the Sudbury Wolves of the OHA. Rivers attributes at least some of his good fortune to his older brother, Shawn, who, having played four games with the Tampa Bay Lightning, was able to offer his kid brother some guidance.
By the time the younger Rivers was ripe for the NHL Draft in 1993, the smooth-skating blueliner was rated to go in the first round. The wait, however, proved a little longer. The St. Louis Blues took him in the second round.
During his first two campaigns in the Blues' organization, Rivers spent most of his time improving his skills with the Worcester Ice Cats of the AHL. In 1997-98, however, he got his first full-time run at the NHL level. As a rookie, Rivers didn't try anything fancy. He focused on a conservative defensive game as the foundation of his value to the team.
In 1999, he was traded to the New York Islanders where he continued to play a stay-at-home game for one season. He then opened the 2000-01 campaign with the Grand Rapids Griffins of the IHL where he played only a couple of games before joining the Ottawa Senators for the bulk of the season. After parts of two seasons with the Senators organization, Rivers was acquired by the Boston Bruins in the early stages of the 2001-02 season.
Upon the completion of the 2001-02 season, Rivers became a member of the Florida Panthers. In his only season with the team, the Ottawa, Ontario native spent the majority of the year with its AHL affiliate in San Antonio before being acquired by the Detroit Red Wings in the summer of 2003.
After parts of three seasons with the Red Wing organization, Rivers was acquired by the Phoenix Coyotes at the 2006 NHL trading deadline. Rivers would end his season with the Coyotes and compete in 18 games with the club. He then signed as a free agent with his former club, the St. Louis Blues, in the summer of 2006. Rivers split his time in St. Louis between the Blues and their AHL affiliate in Peoria. The Ottawa, Ontario native spent only a single season in St. Louis, and signed with the Montreal Canadiens in the summer of 2007.