Tencer's Blog: Keeping Up With the Jones
Dan Tencer takes a closer look at Ryan Jones' emergence & more in his latest blog
|Ryan Jones celebrates his first period goal vs. the Dallas Stars (Photo by Andy Devlin / Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club).
Only Taylor Hall and Dustin Penner (14) have scored more goals than Jones, which is a fabulous stat for Ryan and perhaps less than complimentary to some of the other forwards on the team.
It was anything but a straight line to the big league for Jones, who recently regaled the media with the tale of his work in the drive-thru at Taco Bell in Chatham, Ontario at the same age that Taylor Hall is right now. Against all odds, he was drafted by the Minnesota Wild after playing for the Junior B Chatham Maroons, where his coach told him to make sure he scored a goal and found a fight every night there was a scout in the house.
He went on to four years with the Miami RedHawks in the CCHA, where he would serve as team captain in his final two seasons. From there it was to Nashville in the NHL for 87 games and then to Edmonton via the waiver wire in March of last year.
In a blue collar town like Edmonton, a player like Jones earns extra appreciation from the fans. The goal he scored last night is one that you'll see many duplicates of on Jones' highlight reel, a hard and fearless rush for the blue ice. He knows that those are the types of goals he has to score, the types of areas that he has to go to, if he wants to remain in the NHL.
He's become an integral part of an energy line for the team and a mainstay on their penalty kill. These things have all come about as a result of tireless work ethic, and the ability to understand the role. The truth of it is, many players don't want to do what Jones does or think that they're above it.
Jones is quickly making a career out of understanding and accepting the fact that the role of an energy player or grinder has a spot on the team and he's made it impossible for the coaching staff to remove him from the lineup.
I'm not sure he'll hit the 20 goal mark that's within reach and I'm not even sure that we can expect this type of production from Jones as part of his long term future with the club. What's apparent, though, is that it's becoming impossible not to like and cheer for this player.
There's a camera crew in town right now from Sweden putting together a couple of stories on Magnus Paajarvi and Linus Omark. At dinner last night, they told the Oilers Radio Network crew that Omark is actually the bigger star back home. His YouTube videos play into, as does the fact that he's been around a few more years and produced a few more points.
They told us that at the beginning of the season, hockey fans in Sweden purchased online packages to watch the AHL instead of the NHL so they could see Linus play with Oklahoma City. The way he's been playing on his latest call-up to the big team, they better splurge for the NHL package. With Omark and Paajarvi already here, Anton Lander surely on the way next season and two Swedes (Larsson and Landeskog) in top four rankings for the upcoming entry draft, Edmonton could quickly become a favorite of fans in Stockholm.
ICE ICE BABY
How's the ice at Rexall Place? That was a common question in the dressing room today as reporters reacted to Sam Gagner's awkward crash into the boards near the end of last night's game.
Sam missed practice today, but it was due to a bruised arm suffered on a different play, so disaster was avoided on the crash. However, Jim Vandermeer and Ryan Whitney haven't been so lucky, both on the sideline with ankle injuries that were due in part to catching ruts on the ice here in Edmonton.
On the record, the players will tell you that the ice is as good as it can be in a building as busy as Rexall Place is, that injuries like this could happen in 29 other buildings, too. Off the record, you'll hear from players (including opposition) that the ice in the aging building isn't what it once was. I've heard claims from opposing players that the ice in Dallas is better than the ice in Edmonton most nights these days. I'm not sure if anything can or will be done in the interim, but I'll bet the players here are looking forward to a new facility for one main reason: Better ice.
OUT OF THE BOX
Next Wednesday, Rob Brown and I will be taking our "630 CHED Overtime Openline" show on the road to Boston Pizza downtown as part of the next Oilers Tweetup. We'll be there broadcasting from 90 minutes prior to the game against Dallas, intermissions during the game, and 90 minutes following the conclusion of the tilt.
We'll be joined by the Oilers Octane cheer team (we know you're coming to see them and not us, but let us have it) and a restaurant full of Molson Canadian brew and BP's chow. The only way for you to get in is to grab an RSVP invitation by following the Oilers on Twitter (@NHL_Oilers) and I suggest you do it fast.
And, speaking of Rob Brown, the video that the Oilers produced of the game between the media and alumni to kick off Minor Hockey Week left out some important details. Most notably, I was +1 with an assist. Thanks for nothing, video team.
WATCH THE VIDEO