Seth Jones is off to another strong start after finishing fourth in Norris Trophy voting last season.
Any record of the NHL’s finest young defensemen has to include Seth Jones of the Columbus Blue Jackets. The 24-year-old Texas native finished fourth in voting for the Norris Trophy last season after posting a career-high 57 points in 78 games during a campaign that also saw his defensive impact improve.
Despite missing the start with this season with a knee injury, Jones picked up where he left and has never missed a beat, accumulating 20 points in 27 games while averaging an impressive 26 minutes, 26 minutes per match in his sixth NHL season.
We spoke to Jones this week on the ESPN onice podcast on his season, his fervent trainer, his celebrity allies who are facing free agency decisions, the NBA (where his daddy coaches) and his love of cooking.
Are you tired? Your ice time has literally jumped by just two moments per match. What is behind that?
Jones: I actually don’t know, but my thighs feel good so far this year. I began the season with an accident, but when I got in the coaches left it clear that they were going to play me much this year. I enjoy that that the coaches can put me in that position to find a lot of ice.
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Last season was a real break out for you, finishing fourth at the Norris Trophy voting. Were you thinking about not being at the top three? Do you feel it could be market thing since you play in Columbus?
Jones: That is not around me. What’s up to me personally is strong drama, and whatever happens, happens. I presumed I had a pretty good season last year, and I am glad my name is up there with the very best defensemen in the league at the moment, ones that are really in their prime, such as 27 or 28 yrs old. I am blessed to maintain that location.
It provides you with a small fire inside, maybe not being at the upper three. But that obviously comes with more chance to grow as a player and start to become better and better every year. My main critic is myself, when it comes to my personal game. I pride myself playing hard and being somebody you can trust every night.
Your trainer, John Tortorella, is among the very best in the NHL, however, he’s also considered to be kind of a caricature sometimes. Your buddies back in home must ask what he’s like. What do you tell them?
There is quite a bit. I really don’t think I could select one narrative for ya. It’s always fun visiting the rink every day and watching what’s going to happen. But he’s been a lot better. Even when I got traded here, we were at the midst of changing the culture here, attempting to develop a winning environment, and that I think we’ve finished that.
You know, we’ve got a young team. He has taken a step back and he’s grown like a trainer. He knows that you can not teach how he used to, particularly around being as young as we are. He has given guys more leash. He has been great for us, because he compels usholds everyone accountable. That is exactly what I enjoy.
Would you remember the very first time he chewed you out?
The year that I had been traded to Columbus [from Nashville at 2016], in the last few moments of a match against Chicago. I am not sure where my mind has been the match, because we were outside of the game already. So the very first time, five seconds into the match, I collapse, Panarin and Kane come in and they also score. S O Torts says,”Whatever happens, happens.” But Panarin and Kane connect for just two goals while I am on the market, just as they did against everyone all season. [Tortorella] comes into the room after the first [stage ] and he rips me a brand fresh one. He explained I wasn’t going to leave the seat in the second phase. And that I didn’t find a shift in the second phase. I played at the next. But that has been the memory.
And then you changed your shorts after that period.
Jones: (Laughs) Yeah, I had to grow up quick.
Columbus’ Seth Jones talks about his increased ice time thus far this year (12:53). Internet sensation Colton Saucerman of this Utica Comets brings us now famous hockey beard (33:10). Song »
You said Panarin. It has always been ticking within the Jackets this season that Artemi and Sergei Bobrovsky are free agents this summer. Is there talk about it at the room? Do you take Panarin aside and say,”Hey, we’re building something cool here. It would be nice for those who chose pencil to paper and signed on for more?”
I think we’ve sort of turned it in kind of a fun topic. Earlier in the year, it had been some thing within our locker room that wasn’t positive. It had been sort of at the manner of matters. During camp there certainly were a lot of networking questions and everything. So we walked down like a team and also had a meeting about it — players and coaches. These guys… it’s the best to do exactly what they want todo. I believe that it had been an issue at the start of the season, but that I don’t think it is anymore. We laugh and joke about it using both Bob and Panarin. If they would like to stay, they would like to stay. But we know we’re going to get the most out of these season.
We are suckers for anecdotes. Panarin appears to be a wonder concerning personality. What’s your favourite story ?
Jones: He still can’t speak great English, but he’s quite a funny guy once he opens up; adequate one liners. He can not really put a full sentence together. However he loves days off. He is always telling us,”Go into Torts’ office, get us off a day .” Everytime Torts walks through, he’s requesting,”Day off tomorrow?”
Your daddy, Popeye Jones, is an assistant trainer with all the Indiana Pacers. Who is your NBA team? And exactly what exactly do you think about the current product in the Association?
Jones: I actually don’t really have a favourite team, to tell the truth. I have favorite players. LeBron [James]‘s probably my favourite player. I enjoy the Greek Freak [Giannis Antetokounmpo], also. I think that the NBA… there is a lot of good personalities, lots of good characters. And they receive a lot of publicity, a lot of federal TV games, too. I really like sitting and watching basketball if it’s really about. When I didn’t play baseball, I would have played basketball. I only enjoy watching it, and that I play with it at the summer.
Whenever you find some of those NBA guys taking runs at each other on social networking or through the networking, you think that they’re all in on the joke? Or is it heat?
Jones: I am not convinced. Nevertheless they’re throughout Twitter. I love if the NBA 2K ratings come out. This is the ideal time to check out along with them on Twitter. Nevertheless, it’s competitive character and only just a tiny bit for the series. That is good for this match. The price of this NBA keeps going up and up, like with that $2 billion TV deal. I believe with the [players’ association] in that league, and with the NBA it self… you see guys coming into the match in crazy outfits and showing that a different facet of basketball you never see on the court.
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Do you see a circumstance at which baseball players will grab up a tiny bit into the NBA, so far as character moves?
Jones: I think that it’s going to take time. Hockey’s been such a cultural thing from the start. It’s hard to compare with the basketball personalities with the baseball characters. But we have some guys that run on the personality category within our league. P.K. [Subban] is some guy that has had the role of being the guy for our league. Sometimes he has a bad rap, and I am not sure why. But guys are going to begin after along in his footsteps. A great deal of younger guys will soon. Slowly the culture will change and also guys will show more of their personalities.
Last thing. We all understand you like to cook. Is it healing? And exactly what would you love to cook?
Jones: to begin with, I think it is sorta curative, honestly. It is based on your day. Sometimes after practice I am so exhausted and thus conquer. Or the day after a match I’ll only head out to eat. But I do prefer to cook. Maybe receive a glass of wine, then put some music on and follow the recipe. I cook for my own team mates. I believe it’s fun. My favourite thing to cook? Chicken parm was tried by me a couple of weeks ago. Additionally, I got one of those pasta machines, these pliers? Made some homemade bread, made some linguini.
Thank you, Seth. You’re the best. We promise to attempt and get you in the best three to the Norris this season.
JONES: (Laughs) I’ll hold you to that.