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Seth Jones prepared to follow Lidstrom’s example

Seth Jones

Oct 8, 2013


As surprising as it may seem for a kid who grew up in Denver and whose dad was at least on speaking terms with Joe Sakic, Seth Jones grew up a Red Wings fan.

“The Red Wings were probably my favorite team growing up, so I tried to watch them as much as possible,” Jones said.

Not surprisingly, Jones – arguably the top defenseman of the 2013-14 rookie class – grew up a fan of one of the greatest blue-liners of all time, 7-time Norris Trophy Winner Nicklas Lidstrom.

“On and off the ice, he’s just kind of the picture perfect player and character,” Jones said. “I’ve heard a lot about him. He was a great captain of the Red Wings and a great player throughout his career. He was so smooth and mistake-free on the ice. A lot of defensemen now try to replicate his game, but it’s so hard that no one really accomplishes it.”

The Avalanche had the first selection in the 2013 Draft and, once they were awarded that pick, it seemed almost a foregone conclusion that Joe Sakic and company would take Jones – the highest rated prospect – first overall. However, it was not to be – Colorado selected Nathan MacKinnon, instead, and the pundits across the board started to wonder how Seth Jones felt about being passed over by his favorite team. Only, the Avalanche were not his favorite team.

“I’ve always liked the Red Wings. Not just (Lidstrom), but Datsyuk and guys like that who are respected as well. The organization itself is a very respected organization. They’ve been around a long time. They don’t change much throughout the organization. They’re kind of a classic Original 6 team. I just liked the idea of the Red Wings.”

As a small child, Jones wanted to play hockey, so, while playing for the Denver Nuggets, his father – NBA veteran Ronald “Popeye” Jones – asked Sakic for advice on getting Seth and his brothers started. Sakic said to start with skating lessons, so Popeye sent his sons to a figure skater.

While Seth Jones learned to skate from a figure skater, he wants to be very clear about one thing.

“I did not take figure skating lessons,” Jones said. “It was just edge work – inside and outside edges, forwards and backwards skating. It’s obviously the most important thing. The game has transformed. If you can’t skate, it’s hard to play.”

While Jones obviously learned quite a bit about being a professional from his athletic father, he also learned quite a bit from his mother..

“My mom also did a fabulous job of teaching not only me, but also my two brothers,” Jones said. “Little stuff like firm handshakes, eye contact – those sorts of things. Little things that show a person that you respect them and that’s kind of what you’re about.”

“She had to give up a lot, not just for me, but my two other brothers played hockey at the same time I did,” Jones added. “She definitely gave up a lot and had a lot of responsibility and I give her full credit for raising us.”

Jones also said that his mother and father would not wake him up to go to practices – they left that up to him. If he woke up, they would drive him, but it was his responsibility to be up and be ready.

“That’s just part of being a pro,” Jones said. “You set your alarm. You get up. You start your day off right. You eat breakfast. You don’t need your mom or your dad coming into your room and telling you when to wake up and popping you out of bed, whether it be for school or hockey practice or anything. Obviously, you learn as you get older that at this level, there’s not going to be anyone babysitting you. So you have to get up and be responsible.”

Drafted fourth overall by the Nashville Predators, Jones obviously comes into his rookie season with a great deal of expectations. However, he recognizes that merely being ranked highly and thought of highly does not automatically make him an elite-level or even an NHL-level player.

“There’s only about 700 players in the NHL every year and every year new kids are drafted,” Jones said. “There’s always someone trying to come and play in the League, so you have to be very consistent with your game. You have to try to be the best you can be every night on the ice. Every training camp before the year starts, you have to try to be the best you can be so that you earn your ice time and earn your place on the team.”

When Jones was drafted that night in Newark, he answered more questions about being passed over by the first three teams – particularly the Avalanche – than any other questions. While Jones was obviously disappointed each time that a name other than his was announced, all of that anxiety went away when the Predators contingent walked to the stage.

“They say ‘falling to fourth’  but fourth is still pretty good,” Jones said. “When I got drafted I was just happy to hear my name called. I was very relieved and gave my family hugs. I hugged my mom and that was a pretty special moment. She probably got teary-eyed, but I didn’t really look. It was a pretty cool feeling that you only go through one time, so I tried to make the most of it.”

As for the Red Wings…

“I’m a Predator now.”

Photo Credit: Sarah Fuqua