Jones taking waiver issue in stride
Flames centre admits he was caught ‘off guard’ by news
Given a few hours to chew upon his fate, Blair Jones had adopted a philosophical approach.
“I’m not the first person to be put on waivers and I’m sure I won’t be the last,” said the Calgary Flames centre during the second intermission of Sunday’s game against the Dallas Stars at the American Airlines Center. “It’s not just me this has happened to. It’s happened to lots of guys. And I’m sure a lot of guys are better for it.
“Maybe it can serve as motivation or a wakeup call or a little extra juice to get you to work that much harder at being a better player.”
After practice Saturday, general manager Jay Feaster had informed Jones that he was about to be exposed to the 29 other clubs in the National Hockey League.
“It definitely caught me off guard,” said the 26-year-old. “But, it’s out of my control. Not much I can do.”
Jones went unclaimed during the 24-hour window, but the process, no surprise, was draining.
“It’s pretty tough,” he said. “Your mind is racing. You don’t know the outcome. You don’t know where you may or may not end up. You just don’t know what’s going to happen. So it’s tough. You’re just thinking so much. It was tough to sleep (Saturday) night, that’s for sure.”
Not that there’s a pile of clarity now.
Sunday morning, before the waiver period ended, coach Bob Hartley had been asked — what do you need to see out of him?
“I don’t know yet,” said Hartley. “I’ll answer this (Monday).”
Certainly, it’s been a topsy-turvy stretch for Jones.
Filling in for the injury Mikael Backlund, he had played well Feb. 7 in Columbus. He was also decent Feb. 9 in Vancouver. And when Hartley needed a shooter to go first in last week’s shootout against Minnesota, it had been No. 19 who got the tap.
But Thursday, Jones was scolded, en masse, by the coaching staff during practice.
Days later, he was on waivers.
“We need more and it’s as simple as this,” said Hartley. “There’s stuff we can share. There’s stuff we can’t share. At the same time, it’s a matter of having everyone accountable . . . to make the right decisions for everyone in the organization.”
Jones, the owner of one assist, should make sense for Calgary, at least on the surface.
The Flames are one of the few (only?) teams with an average weight of less than 200 pounds — 197, including Jones, six-foot-two, 216 pounds
Additionally, on a typically shabby faceoff team, he wins draws — at a team-leading 59.4 per cent clip.
And with the Flames’ lineup featuring few true centres — wingers Alex Tanguay, Michael Cammalleri, Blake Comeau have all played out of position — Jones is a natural pivot.
“I’ve just got to put my nose to the grindstone now, work my butt off,” said Jones. “Whatever the coaches want from me and want me to work and improve on, I’m game to do that. I’m looking forward to getting back on the ice.”
Follow Scott Cruickshank on Twitter/CruickshankCH
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