Sunday, December 23, 2012

SETH JONES: Potential 2013 NHL Top 3 Draft Pick & Popeye Jones Son!!!


Written by: Jeff Z. Klein & Prospect-Central

If Popeye Jones played in the NHL, I have to think his position would've probably been goalie.  After all, goalies wear masks :)  Popeye may not have been the most aesthetically appealing person, but he still played eleven years in the NBA, and not many people can say that.  While he was an average NBA player, his 18-year old son Seth Jones looks to be anything but average.  There is one catch however.  Seth Jones's skills are on the ice, not the hardwood.

Potential 2013 NHL top 3 draft pick Seth Jones
If you follow hockey, which you probably don't considering you're reading this article (lol), you already know that the 6-foot-4 defenseman has been a terrorizing force in every junior league he's played in and is on the verge of becoming a top 3 pick in the 2013 NHL draft.  To tell you the truth, calling Seth Jones a top 3 pick might actually be understatement.  If you ask any NHL general manger, Jones will more than likely be the 2nd player selected in this years draft, behind only the electrifying Nathan MacKinnon.

For those of you interested in the future landscape of the NHL, here's a quick breakdown of what it looks like.  As I stated before, MacKinnon and Jones will probably battle it out for the #1 pick come June, and both of them are considered franchise changing players. Moving forward to the 2014 NHL Draft, 16-year old Sam Reinhart looks to be the early favorite for the top pick, and considering his father Paul Reinhart had an outstanding eleven year career in the league, I wouldn't be surprised if he follows suit.

The 2015 NHL Draft might have the best player out of all of them though. Connor McDavid is projected as the #1 overall pick that year, and the 15-year old has already signed a multimillion dollar endorsement deal with Reebok, making him the youngest spokesman in the history of the company.  What Seth Jones will be able to do for hockey however, none of these players can accomplish.

Not only is Seth Jones a future star in the NHL, he's obviously African-American.  In a sport that's predominately white (to say the least), Jones has a chance to do for hockey what Tiger Woods did for golf.  I'm not saying the black community will all of a sudden trade in their Jordan's for ice skates, but if he lives up to his potential, Jones might truly be a game changer as far as marketability is concerned.

Popeye & Seth Jones have a lot to smile about
In 95 years of existence, there has only been 71 players with black African descent to play in the NHL.  As far as African-American players are concerned, there's been fewer than a dozen.  Despite these staggering statistics, black players have and continue to hold their own in the National Hockey League.  Here's a quick synopsis of black players in the NHL.

In January of 1958, Willie O'Ree became the first black player in the NHL when he was signed by the Boston Bruins.  O'Ree is basically the Jackie Robinson of hockey and broke down barriers few thought were possible.

Opinions may vary, but the greatest black player of all-time is probably Grant Fuhr, albeit he was a goaltender.  Fuhr's certainly the most decorated anyways.  He won 5 Stanley Cups with the Edmonton Oilers during the 80's, and in 2003 became the first black player inducted into the NHL Hall of Fame.

As far as skilled players are concerned, there's no question Jarome Iginla is the most exciting black player the NHL has ever seen.  Iginla was a 6-time All-Star with the Calgary Flames and he's their all-time leading scorer as well.  My favorite black player of all-time though, none other than the enforcer himself, Donald Brashear!!!  Put it this way, if you take the toughest player to ever come out of the NBA, Brashear would absolutely wipe the floor with him.

As good as all of these players were, Seth Jones appears to be in class by himself. Considering the NHL's lack of American stars as well as black stars, Jones has a chance to be one of those rare athletes that can bridge the gap between race and countries alike.  He certainly has some big skates to fill though, but if he can live up to the hype, Seth Jones just might become the most transcendent player in the history of hockey. * Below is an article written by Jeff Z. Klein from the New York Times, going into more detail about the rising hockey star with N.B.A. DNA Seth Jones.
Seth Jones probably should have wound up a basketball player. He is tall, with a great vertical leap, and his father is Popeye Jones, who played 11 years in the N.B.A. and is now an assistant coach with the Nets.

USA's new hockey star Seth Jones
But instead, Seth Jones, 18, is projected to be a top pick in the 2013 N.H.L. draft and may be on his way to becoming hockey’s first African-American star.

“I’d be shocked myself if I heard a story like that,” Jones said, when asked if people are surprised by the combination of a basketball father and a hockey son. “Me and my two brothers all play hockey, so it was weird, I guess, that none of us played basketball.”

Jones, a 6-foot-4 defenseman with slick skating and puck-possession skills, seems to have a can’t-miss label sewn onto his hockey sweater. He will help lead the United States team at the world junior championships in Russia next week, even though he is the youngest player on the roster. He was on the team for last year’s tournament as a 17-year-old, but an injury sidelined him just before it started.

Now in his first year with the Portland Winter Hawks of the Western Hockey League, Jones has 28 points in 31 games, third among rookies, and a plus-27 mark, fourth among all players. On the ice he is a commanding presence, a hard hitter. But more often he is the rare defenseman who can control a game’s tempo with his stickhandling and passing — a “full-package defenseman,” in the words of Phil Housley, the United States coach.

Probably not what anyone expected from a son of Popeye Jones.

“No one wants to live in their father’s footsteps,” Seth Jones said this week when the United States team held a three-day training camp at the Rangers’ practice rink in Greenburgh, N.Y., before heading to Europe. “I think the time will come when I stop getting those questions and everyone knows the story. That’s just my family and my background and part of my life.”

Jacob Trouba, another defenseman on the national team, said: “He’s always been Popeye’s son. Now he’s turning into Seth Jones; he’s not Popeye’s kid anymore. He’s making his own name.”

Jones may not have followed in his father’s footsteps, but the stops in Popeye Jones’s career played a large role in Seth’s hockey development.

Seth Jones is 6-foot-4, before hockey skates
Popeye became a hockey fan while playing in Dallas. He arrived in 1993, the year the Stars moved to Dallas from Minnesota. Seth was born outside Dallas the next year. After Popeye was traded to Toronto in 1996, the Jones family was steeped in the game through constant exposure to Don Cherry and “Hockey Night in Canada.”

“When I was a guy growing up, the only sports offered to me in a small town in Tennessee were basketball, football and baseball,” Popeye said.

Seth’s path to hockey started in Denver when his father was playing for the Nuggets in 1999-2000, and his older brother, Justin, wanted to play roller hockey with his school friends. Seth, who was about 5, got a pair of in-line skates, too. When the weather turned cold, they received ice skates and hockey gear, but only played pickup games with other children.

Then one day at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Popeye bumped into Joe Sakic, the Colorado Avalanche captain and future Hall of Famer.

“I don’t think he knew who I was, but I knew who Joe was, and I stopped him and introduced myself and said, ‘My kids want to play hockey, and I really don’t know anything about it,’ ” said Popeye, who is 6-8. “He looked at how big I was and said: ‘Make sure they know how to skate. I’m sure they’ll be good athletes.”

Seth took skating lessons with a figure-skating instructor for a year, but what sealed hockey for him was sitting rinkside with Justin and his younger brother, Caleb, when the Avalanche won Game 7 of the 2001 Stanley Cup finals.

“Seeing the Cup in person was just unbelievable,” Seth said.

He went on to star on youth teams when the family returned to Dallas and at the elite United States National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor, Mich., winning gold medals at the 2011 and 2012 World U18 Championship. (Caleb, 16, has been invited to the program’s 2013 tryouts.)

Seth Jones better get used to photo shoots
The N.H.L., mired in a lockout and struggling to renew fan interest, would probably welcome the marketing potential of a young African-American star, especially if Jones were to play, say, in Brooklyn when the Islanders move there in 2015.

Seth, whose mother, Amy, is white, said he would prefer that race not be part of the conversation when it comes to his hockey career.

“I don’t want to be looked at as an African-American, you know?” he said. “I want to be looked at as someone who has good character, and people know me for the person I am, not my color.”

Still, he said he understood why people asked about race. “Anytime I or anyone can help to get kids into the sport of hockey — or any sport, as a matter of fact — it’s huge,” he said.

But he added that being that kind of role model “can put a lot of weight on your shoulders.”

Jones said he had never encountered a problem because of his race, on or off the ice. Racially charged incidents on North American rinks have become increasingly rare. Growing up in 1980s Boston, Mike Grier, who retired last season after a 14-season career with four N.H.L. teams, recalled hearing occasional racial slurs from opponents and parents.

Still, there is the occasional incident. Last year, Philadelphia’s Wayne Simmonds, a black Canadian, was taunted by a fan who threw a banana on the ice at a preseason game in London, Ontario. The fan was turned in by other fans and prosecuted.

In the playoffs, Washington’s Joel Ward, also a black Canadian, eliminated the defending champion Bruins with a Game 7 overtime goal, unleashing a torrent of racist comments on social media.

As Simmonds observed after his incident, “When you’re a black man playing in a predominantly white man’s sport, you’ve got to come to expect things like that.”

The NHL better get used to Seth Jones
Still, Jones said he had not experienced anything of that nature, and his basketball connections might prove to be the more unusual part of his background.

Basketball and hockey do not often overlap. Alex Ovechkin is one of the few N.H.L. players with a basketball background; his mother starred for the Soviet national team. Los Angeles Lakers point guard Steve Nash played hockey while growing up in Canada.

Jones acknowledged that the two sports did not have much in common, but said he learned from watching basketball players.

“The persons I watched closely were Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd,” he said, recalling when his father was an assistant with the Dallas Mavericks. “You’d see Dirk back there behind the scenes taking jump shots before and after games, before and after practices. It just taught me to keep working hard when no ones’s watching, and the person you are behind the scenes is your true self.”

Seth never played organized basketball, but some of Popeye’s basketball DNA seems to have rubbed off.

“We played basketball in Ann Arbor a lot the last couple years, and he’s got a lot of talent,” said Brady Skjei, a United States teammate who spent two years with Jones at the National Team Development Program. “Great hands, a soft stroke, a terrific shot.”

Jones said: “I actually am pretty good at basketball, I have to admit. I have a nice two-way game, I think.”

Popeye and Seth disagreed over which of them would win a game of one-on-one basketball. But Popeye, who was chosen in the second round of the N.B.A. draft, figured Seth would top him in draft position.

“He’s passed his dad, and that’s pretty cool,” Popeye said. Original Article.

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