Any listing of the NHL’s finest younger defensemen has to embrace Seth Jones of the Columbus Blue Jackets. The 24-year-old Texas native completed fourth in voting for the Norris Trophy final season after posting a career-high 57 factors in 78 video games throughout a marketing campaign that additionally noticed his defensive affect enhance.
Regardless of lacking the beginning of this season with a knee harm, Jones picked up the place he left off and hasn’t missed a beat, accumulating 20 factors in 27 video games whereas averaging a formidable 26 minutes, 26 seconds per recreation in his sixth NHL season.
We spoke to Jones this week on the ESPN On Ice podcast about his season, his fiery coach, his star teammates who’re dealing with free-agency selections, the NBA (the place his father coaches) and his love of cooking.
Are you drained? Your ice time has actually jumped by two minutes a recreation. What’s behind that?
Jones: I do not know, however my legs really feel good to date this season. I began the season with an harm, however after I bought again the coaches made it clear that they had been going to play me quite a bit this yr. I like that that the coaches might put me in that place to see quite a lot of ice.
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Final season was an actual breakout for you, ending fourth within the Norris Trophy voting. Had been you bummed about not being within the prime three? Do you are feeling it could be a market factor because you play in Columbus?
Jones: That is not up to me. What’s up to me is robust play, and then no matter occurs, occurs. I assumed I had a reasonably good season final yr, and I am joyful my identify is up there with the most effective defensemen within the league for the time being, ones which are actually of their prime, like 27 or 28 years previous. I am fortunate to be in that place.
It offers you slightly fireplace inside, not being within the prime three. However that clearly comes with extra alternative to develop as a participant and grow to be higher and higher yearly. My greatest critic is myself, when it comes to my recreation. I pleasure myself on enjoying laborious and being somebody you may depend on each evening.
Your coach, John Tortorella, is among the finest within the NHL, however he is additionally recognized to be form of a caricature typically. Your buddies again at dwelling should ask what he is like. What do you inform them?
Jones: Oh, man. There’s fairly a bit. I do not assume I might pick one story for ya. It is all the time enjoyable coming to the rink each day and seeing what is going on to occur. However he is been quite a bit higher. Even after I bought traded right here, we had been in the midst of actually altering the tradition right here, attempting to create a profitable surroundings, and I feel we have executed that.
You realize, we have now a younger staff. He is taken a step again and he is grown as a coach. He understands that you could’t coach the best way he used to, particularly with us being as younger as we’re. He is given guys extra leash. He is been nice for us, as a result of he pushes us, holds everybody accountable. That is what I like.
Do you bear in mind the primary time he chewed you out?
Jones: I do, really. The yr I used to be traded to Columbus [from Nashville in 2016], in the previous few minutes of a recreation in opposition to Chicago. We had been enjoying Artemi Panarin, Patrick Kane, these guys, final recreation of the season. I am unsure the place my thoughts was that recreation, as a result of we had been out of the playoffs already. So the very first interval, 5 seconds into the sport, I fall down, Panarin and Kane are available and they rating. So Torts says, “No matter occurs, occurs.” However then Panarin and Kane join for two extra objectives whereas I am on the market, like they did in opposition to everybody all season. [Tortorella] comes into the room after the primary [period] and he simply rips me a brand new one. He stated I wasn’t going to depart the bench within the second interval. And I did not see a shift within the second interval. I performed within the third. However that was the reminiscence.
And then you definately modified your shorts after that interval.
Jones: (Laughs) Yeah, I had to develop up fast.
Columbus’ Seth Jones talks about his elevated ice time to date this season (12:53). Web sensation Colton Saucerman of the Utica Comets brings us behind his now well-known hockey beard (33:10). Plus Linda Cohn joins the present to speak about “In The Crease,” and reply listener questions (54:27)! Plus, “Phil Kessel Loves Scorching Canines,” Sach bought your quantity, Puck Headlines and extra! Pay attention »
You talked about Panarin. It is clearly been looming over the Jackets this season that Artemi and Sergei Bobrovsky are free brokers this summer time. Is there speak about it within the room? Do you ever take Panarin apart and say, “Hey, we’re constructing one thing cool right here. It will be good when you took pen to paper and signed on for extra?”
Jones: You realize, probably not. I feel we have form of turned it into form of a enjoyable subject. Earlier within the yr, it was one thing in our locker room that wasn’t optimistic. It was form of in the best way of issues. Throughout camp there have been quite a lot of media questions and all the things. So we sat down as a staff and had a gathering about it — coaches and gamers. These guys … it is their proper to do what they need to do. I feel it was a difficulty at the beginning of the season, however I do not assume it’s anymore. We snicker and joke about it with each Bob and Panarin. If they need to keep, they need to keep. However we all know we’re going to get the most effective out of them this season.
We’re suckers for anecdotes. Panarin looks like a magnificence when it comes to character. What’s your favourite story about him?
Jones: He nonetheless cannot communicate nice English, however he is a reasonably humorous man as soon as he opens up; respectable one-liners. He cannot actually put a full sentence collectively. However he loves days off. He is all the time telling us, “Go into Torts’ workplace, get us a time without work.” Each time Torts walks via, he is asking, “Time off tomorrow?”
Your dad, Popeye Jones, is an assistant coach with the Indiana Pacers. Who’s your NBA staff? And what do you concentrate on the present product within the Affiliation?
Jones: I do not actually have a favourite staff, to be trustworthy. I’ve favourite gamers. LeBron [James]’s in all probability my favourite participant. I just like the Greek Freak [Giannis Antetokounmpo], too. I feel the NBA … there’s quite a lot of good characters, quite a lot of good personalities. They usually get quite a lot of publicity, quite a lot of nationwide TV video games, too. I like sitting down and watching basketball at any time when it is on. If I did not play hockey, I’d have positively performed basketball. I simply get pleasure from watching it, and I play it in the summertime.
Whenever you see among the NBA guys taking runs at one another on social media or via the media, do you assume they’re all in on the joke? Or is it actual warmth?
Jones: I am unsure. However they’re throughout Twitter. I like when the NBA 2K rankings come out. That is the most effective time to observe them on Twitter. However it’s aggressive nature and slightly bit for the present. That is good for the sport. The worth of the NBA retains going up and up, like with that $2 billion TV deal. I feel with the [players’ association] in that league, and with the NBA itself … you see guys coming to the sport in loopy outfits and exhibiting a distinct aspect of basketball you do not see on the court docket.
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Do you ever see a state of affairs the place hockey gamers will catch up slightly bit to the NBA, so far as character goes? Like, beefs and memes and issues like that.
Jones: I feel it is going to take time. Hockey’s been such a cultural factor from the beginning. It is laborious to examine the basketball personalities with the hockey personalities. However we have now some guys that run the character class in our league. P.Okay. [Subban] is a man that has taken the position of being that man for our league. Typically he will get a foul rap, and I am unsure why. However guys are going to begin following alongside in his footsteps. A whole lot of youthful guys will. Slowly the tradition will change and guys will present extra of their personalities.
Last item. We perceive you want to cook dinner. Is it therapeutic? And what do you want to cook dinner?
Jones: First off, I feel it’s sorta therapeutic, truthfully. It relies on the day. Typically after apply I am so drained and so beat. Or the day after a recreation I am going to simply exit to eat. However I do like to cook dinner. Possibly get a glass of wine, put some music on and observe the recipe. I cook dinner for my teammates fairly a bit. I feel it is enjoyable. My favourite factor to cook dinner? I attempted home made hen parm a number of weeks in the past. I additionally bought a type of pasta machines, these rollers? Made some home made dough, made some linguini.
Thanks, Seth. You are the most effective. We promise to strive to get you into the highest three for the Norris this season.
JONES: (Laughs) I am going to maintain you to that.