"Catching Up With ..." will keep you in touch with the Admirals over the long summer months. A new player or hockey operations staff member will be interviewed each week.
norfolkadmirals.com catches up with #9 Blair Jones today. Jones tied for second on Norfolk with 28 assists and his 42 points ranked third in 2007-08. The 21-year-old native of Central Butte, Saskatchewan, played in 75 of Norfolk's 80 games – missing only five games in December when he was called up to the Admirals' NHL parent club, the Tampa Bay Lightning. The 2005 fourth round draft pick of the Lightning will enter his third professional season in 2008-09.
How has your summer been?
My summer has been great. It was a long drive from Norfolk to Saskatchewan! I basically started training as soon as I got home, so that has been keeping me busy. I am living in Saskatoon, about an hour and fifteen minutes from my hometown. So besides going to the gym I try to squeeze some boating in when I can and maybe a bit of fishing, too.
How would you describe your 2007-08 season? Did you meet your personal goals?
There were a lot of ups and downs in the past season for me personally and for our team, also. There were times when I thought things might never be looking up and then down the stretch I thought things went pretty well. So for the last twenty games, I think I did.
You finished your junior career with the Moose Jaw Warriors in the WHL and were teammates with former Admiral Troy Brouwer when the Warriors made it to the 2006 WHL Finals. Do you see or talk to Troy much?
Troy and I were best friends when we played together in Moose Jaw, hanging out every day. I still talk to him every two weeks or so, and I managed to stop in at Rockford on my drive home to see him so that was good. But I think it is important to keep ties with all of your teammates from junior, and I try my best to do that – especially with Troy.
One of the top Admirals highlight reel goals from 2007-08 was your end-to-end goal on March 7 versus Philadelphia - the first game back at Scope after the long circus road trip. If I recall correctly, you weren't feeling well and were a game-time decision. You recovered the puck in the defensive zone, rushed all the way up ice along the left wing, went behind the net and around to the opposite post before sending a backhander top shelf. What do you remember about that game?
Yeah, that was an interesting day for me, that's for sure. I could barely get out of bed in the morning. It felt like I got hit by a bus, but I managed to get to morning skate and try and get through that and I really wasn't feeling any better. So, I had my nap and got up and went to the rink and took some antibiotics to try and get me through the game. Oddly enough, sometimes those are your best games, for whatever reason. I think it is the fact that you aren't thinking too much.
It seemed like the morning of every game day you were filling out a crossword puzzle. Why and how long has this been part of your game day routine?
Well, I find the nearest USA Today and I do my best to fill out all the games and the crossword. I do it more or less to get my mind working in the morning and try to stay a bit sharp since I don't go to school anymore. I have probably done it for about a year or so now. It gives you something to do at breakfast and in the morning at the rink, so I enjoy it.
What are your plans for the rest of the summer?
Just training here in Saskatoon and that is about it, pretty low key for me I think.