We had a post earlier on the blog about Seth Jones in April regarding his future.
Jones put all that to rest on Monday by choosing the Portland Winterhawks over the University of North Dakota.
We got the chance to speak with Jones’ father, Popeye, a month ago about his son. Popeye Jones, an assistant with the New Jersey Nets, shared a few memories about his son and some of the family’s best hockey experiences.
Q: Hearing you talk, I get the feeling you’ve always been into hockey. How did you get into the game?
POPEYE JONES: “We watched as a family when the Dallas Stars came to town. I did a charity event with Mike Modano and spoke with him. We watched hockey as a family and watched the Stars win a Cup in 1999. It was exciting watching hockey and my career ended up taking me to Toronto and I’d watch hockey there and then from there, we went as a family to Boston and another that’s good hockey town and then we end up in Denver and then they win a Stanley Cup. As hockey fans we got spoiled. I remember the NHL All-Star Game came to Denver and I got (Seth) tickets to that and all the festivals. Just going to playoff games and the love of hockey took over our family. I still love basketball and still love to play it but in my free time I took (Seth) to hockey games at night.”
Q: Was it your meeting with Modano that got you interested in hockey?
PJ: “I don’t know if it was the meeting. At first, he invited me out to a game and it was new to fans out in Dallas. I went and a fight broke out and I was like, “What’s going on?’ Everyone just stood up and started cheering. Then in another instance there was another fight and blood was all over the ice and they kept playing. It was different than anything I saw in basketball. They just kept playing. Becoming a fan and starting to learn about the game made me realize it was similar to basketball. It’s about spacing, tough defense, pick setting, give and gos and learning to play off teammates. I was at the Pepsi Center one day and I saw Joe Sakic. The Pepsi Center was new and the Avalanche didn’t have a weight room yet. So he came over to the Nuggets weight room. He was walking over and he didn’t know who I was but I started talking to him. I told him my kids wants to play hockey. He looked at my feet and looked up all the way to my head. He said, ‘From the look of things, they are going to be some big boys. My advice is they know how to skate because it looks like they are going to be some good athletes. You can do stickhandling with a golf ball but get them skating.’ So when it came to Seth’s development it was about finding a really good coach. We found a lady who coached the ladies in figure skating and her dad was a hockey coach who coached skating. She was right there at the Littleton rink in Colorado and Seth started taking lessons. You’d ask him when he was a little boy if he loved playing hockey and he’d tell you that he loved skating. She would marvel at him so she’d show him how to make a cut or how to use an edge. She told us how impressed she was with how quickly he picked up on things.”
Q: What would you say has been your family’s best hockey memory?
PJ: “I think the best memory to me is his first travel tournament. Hockey is a crazy sport and there is a huge amount travel at a young age. It was his first travel tournament and we went to Whistler, B.C. near Vancouver and I remember him having a really good tournament. He played defense and in the championship game, I remember him having to go to the bathroom. When he went to the bathroom, the other team scored two goals while he was gone and it almost cost them the game. That for me was one of the fondest memories I have. I know some of the other players’ parents asked me, ‘Don’t that kid know how to go (to the bathroom) in his hockey breezers?’”