Kukla's Korner

Above the Glass

Seth Jones, NFL Quarterback?

We've heard his name, we know who his father is, and we all know about his feats of hockey derring do. Since arriving at Portland Winterhawks training camp last August, Seth Jones has delivered on the hype and far exceeded expectations. I’m here to tell you he’s all that in person too, but interviewing the NHL’s future superstars does come with its risks. Which is how I know that if Seth ever decides to switch careers, he’d make an excellent NFL quarterback.

You could put somebody’s eye out. Or you could just give me a really great story about the first time I met the young man who may be chosen first overall in the 2013 Entry Draft. It starts with me and the Winterhawks’ PR Director Graham Kendrick waiting for practice to end so I could interview Seth. We are strategically located right in front of the rink doors that had been flung open while practice was still lingering on. This left plenty of room for Seth to accidentally send his stick flying through the open doors, where it landed perfectly right at my feet (he's equally deadly with slapshots from the point). So you can imagine the look on his face when Graham told him “Seth, this is Samantha, she’s here to interview you.” Someday NHL fans will be clamoring for Seth to toss his game used stick over the glass; all I had to do was hang out at the Winterhawks’ practice. It will always be one of my fondest and favorite memories from adventures in WHL blogville. Given how perfect even his accidental aim is, I firmly believe that if Seth ever decides to abandon a career of hockey greatness, a future career of greatness as an NFL quarterback awaits.

Don’t we know you? From day one of Winterhawks training camp last August, Seth was surrounded by media and fans looking for a glimpse of what all the fuss was about. All that hype was justified from the minute he hit the ice at the annual Neely Cup, but what about off the ice? He delivers on that promise, too.  Seth’s a super sharp, smart, straight shooting young man who will answer any question you care to ask, and he’ll do it honestly and completely. He handles the media throngs like he was brushing a piece of fluff off a sweater; with the greatest of ease. See him off the ice, and you’ll notice straight away that he looks older than his 18 years, and he has the confidence of the NHL superstar he will soon become. Among the burning questions that we discussed after he politely scraped his stick off my toes:

Rock On. The purpose of my practice visit was to profile Seth for the Portland Winterhawks Booster Club newsletter’s monthly Rookie Profile. One of the most popular questions is “what’s the most embarrassing song on your iPod?” The most popular choice among the Winterhawks is “Love Story” by Taylor Swift. You’ll be pleased to know that Seth demonstrated his off-ice creativity and originality by choosing “Skyscraper” by Demi Lovato.

He heeds good advice. The best advice Seth’s father (NBA player Ronald "Popeye" Jones) ever gave him? “Keep your head on straight; don’t get too up or too down about a game. Appreciate it when you win, and put it behind you when you lose.” Indeed, if you watched Seth play in the World Juniors or the Top Prospects Game, you could see that he keeps his head on straight, he’s very cool under pressure and he’s all business. Speaking of which:

He’s open for business. Seth graduated from high school early and is currently studying entrepreneurship in an online program that all the college-level Winterhawks attend. When asked about what he might like to do when his playing days are over, he replied “I’d maybe like to start my own business one day.” Which is a good thing, since it won’t be long before the business of being Seth Jones, NHL superstar, will be wide open. 

He keeps it all in the family. Seth’s brother Caleb was drafted by the Portland Winterhawks in the 2012 Bantam Draft, and he also attended training camp this year.

Yes, he’s all that. Sure, he’s made his rookie mistakes on the ice like everyone else and he told me himself that he had an adjustment period in the early part of the season. But other that, if you didn’t know better, you wouldn’t even know he’s a rookie. Seth hails from a sports family and it shows; he understands that hockey is a business and he behaves accordingly on and off the ice. I’m just a fan/blogger and the rookie profile is a fun little Q&A for Booster Club members. He could have blown me off and given me attitude; instead he replied to several questions with “that’s a great question” and actually thought about an answer instead of giving me the robo-cliché. And his answer when it was all said and done: “thank you.”

What’s next? The most staggering thing about Seth’s most recent achievements is that they all happened in a span of 11 days. He won the Gold Medal at the World Juniors on January 5, was ranked the number one North American skater on Central Scouting's 2013 midterm rankings on January 15 and served as Captain of the victorious Team Orr at the Top Prospects Game on January 16. What does one do to top all that? Why, win the Memorial Cup and get drafted first overall, but of course. Whatever Seth does between now and June, I’m pretty sure it won’t require a back-up job in the NFL. After that, I predict the next stop for Seth Jones will be cracking his NHL team’s roster on the first try.

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About Above the Glass

Welcome to Above the Glass, a definitive anti-expert’s guide to hockey. I started blogging in 2009 as part of an effort to learn all 87 rules in the NHL Rulebook in 107 days before the 2010 Olympics, 30 years after I discovered the sport. You can peruse the archival results here. Growing up in Arizona, I didn’t even know hockey existed until February 22, 1980, when the USA played Russia in the Olympics. And just like that, the game of the century changed my life. I still don’t quite understand the icing rule or which faceoff circle goes with what offense, but I do know that every aspect of hockey has something to teach us about life. That’s what you’ll find here, along with my unadulterated passion for the game.

I live in Portland, Oregon, home of the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks. I invite anyone who wants to know more about hockey in the Rose City to visit here, where I blog exclusively about the Winterhawks. I’ll post an occasional musing about the Hawks, the WHL and junior hockey here as well.

Follow me on Twitter: @AbovetheGlass

Email: samantha@kuklaskorner.com