Ryan Jones Reflects on Successful NHL Season in Edmonton
After finishing his best professional season, Chatham’s Ryan Jones has much to be thankful for, much to look forward to, and a lot of hard work ahead. Jones, recently finished his third NHL season when his Edmonton Oilers failed to qualify for the playoffs.
Although he scored 18 goals on the ice for the Oilers, Jones said his successful season started with a healthy summer to get stronger, and continued because of the opportunities Edmonton coach Tom Renney presented him with.
“It somewhat started in the summer. I was able to really workout and get stronger last summer due to the fact that I was mainly injury free. The previous two summers I had a shoulder surgery and a back injury. Outside of that I think the big difference was the opportunity I was given within the organization. I was able to move up and down the lineup due to the fact that Coach Renney had some confidence in me. The extra playing time led to more confidence and
it kind of snowballed from there.”
Although Jones tied for the Edmonton Oilers lead in goals, his return to the club is no sure thing as he’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent July 1st, and is seen by many as a hot commodity on the free agent market. Earlier in the season, Jones turned down the Oilers’ first contract offer, but the window for Jones to return to wearing an Oilers sweater next season hasn’t closed yet,
“We are still in talks right now,” said Jones. “We aren’t in a huge rush right now as both my agent and the Oilers management have lots of stuff on their plates right now. The things I am taking into consideration right now would be my fit in the organization and the fact that both my wife and I enjoy being in Edmonton and playing there. That being said like any player I want some stability so that is where we are at right now.”
Prior to this season, Jones was struggling to stay on the Nashville Predators roster. His unconventional route to the NHL through the local Junior C league and Junior B in Chatham, coupled with his early struggles, made his successes this season all the more miraculous; which is why Jones was selected as the Edmonton Oilers Bill Masterton Trophy nominee, an award given out each season to a player who displays perseverance and a dedication to hockey,
“I just kind of stuck to what got me where I was. Work hard and don’t leave anything out there,” said Jones about his Masteron Trophy nomination, “There are a lot more talented guys in the NHL than I am, but I just try and outwork them. What I lack in skill I do my best to make up in work ethic and heart.”
Jones recognizes that this season was special, and he’s not taking anything for granted. In fact, his role as a veteran leader this season was one he embraced, and despite missing the playoffs, Jones still took several positives from his season with the Edmonton Oilers,
“For me it was just the all around experience. The ability to be a guy that the team could rely on in any situation. With all the younger guys I was able to embrace a little more of a leadership role, mainly just a lead by example role. Overall, it was a fun year despite our record and we got better as a team as the year went on.”
Now, Jones will spend the summer training, and resolving his contract situation in preparation for a repeat performance of his successful season in Edmonton. Although he’s come a long was, Jones says that other Chatham-Kent hockey players can make it to the NHL, even though the road won’t be easy,
“Just work hard and never give up,” said Jones when asked to give a message to young Chatham-Kent hockey players, “There will be no shortage of people who are doubters but if you truly believe in yourself you can accomplish almost anything.”