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THREE THINGS: Get to Know Caleb Jones

Learn more about the newest Blackhawks defenseman

by Carter Baum @CarterBaum / Blackhawks.com

Caleb Jones was playing NBA 2K at his offseason home in Dallas on Monday when his phone went off. 

"I got a quick text from someone saying, 'Whoa is that true?' and I didn't know that they were talking about," he explained of the moment he first learned he could be heading to Chicago. "Then, I started getting phone calls. It took a little bit to set in, but I'm really excited."

The 6-foot-1 defenseman officially became a Blackhawk a short time later, acquired in a trade that sent 16-year Chicago veteran Duncan Keith to Edmonton in an effort to be closer to his young son, Colton.

Jones, who was drafted by the Oilers in the fourth round of the 2015 draft, is excited to get a fresh start of his own after playing parts of three NHL seasons in Alberta, totaling 93 games with five goals and 19 assists. 

"Chicago is a great city and I've heard nothing but good things about the organization," Jones said of the move. "I'm really excited to get going."

Aside from which video game he once played while learning about a career-altering move, here are three other things you should know about the newest Blackhawks defenseman:


1. PERFECT FIT

The Blackhawks blue line is young. As it stands today, just six weeks after his 24th birthday, Jones is already the fifth oldest defenseman on the Blackhawks roster, a mere two months younger than Wyatt Kalynuk for that spot. Elder to them, Calvin de Haan just turned 30, Connor Murphy is 28 and Nikita Zadorov (still a pending restricted free agent) is 26. The latter trio are also the only rostered players on the back end with more than 100 games of NHL experience.

By and large, the defensive corps is full of up-and-comers with long careers still in front of them -- a list that now includes Jones.  

"I think it's going to be great," he said of the young group. "Any time you can have a good, healthy competition only makes you better and only makes the team better. I'm looking forward to meeting all those guys and hopefully being able to grow with them, too, and possibly playing with one of them and growing into a good partnership."

The two-way role Jones plays on the ice is also a complement to the group in a similar way that Riley Stillman brought a physical edge and defensive focus to the lineup when he was acquired at the trade deadline.

 "I have to be really good on the defensive side of the puck first, but I think when I'm really playing well, I'm using my skating ability and I can get up in the play and create a little bit of offense that way," he said. "A two-way defenseman who's good all around and can play a good, physical game and be reliable in any situation is what I see myself developing into."

"(He's) a smooth skating, versatile defenseman who brings a well-rounded game… transitions the puck nicely with his legs or through outlet passes. He brings some size to our group, and we believe his best hockey is in front of him," Blackhawks President of Hockey Operations & General Manager Stan Bowman said when the move was announced. "While he is still young, we see his 93 games of NHL experience as an asset to help our other young defensemen adjust to the NHL."

Video: Caleb Jones on joining Blackhawks


2. STAR POWER

Aside from growing up watching the Stars and playing for the AAA team of the same name in Dallas, Jones has played with some of the game's biggest stars in his NHL career -- a trend that will continue with a pair of future Hall of Famers in Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.  

Going from sharing the ice with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl -- who have combined to win the Art Ross Trophy as the league's top scorer in four of the last five seasons -- in Edmonton to the duo of franchise faces in Chicago is something he doesn't take for granted. 

"I've been fortunate," he said. "Now getting to go play with those two, and obviously I had Connor and Leon those first couple years, I've been around some pretty good players. Being able to watch them in practice and learn some of their work habits every day, I'm really looking forward (to it). Those two guys are future Hall of Famers and they've won a lot of Stanley Cups and they've got a lot of experience. They know what it takes to be a good player. Anytime you can get around guys like that, you can learn from them every day." 


3. FAMILY MATTERS

The Jones family is not your everyday family. Caleb is the youngest of three hockey-playing brothers and the son of an 11-year NBA veteran. 

You most likely know his older brother is Seth Jones, a veteran of nearly 600 games with Nashville and Columbus, but the oldest, Justin, played two seasons of junior hockey in the NAHL as well. Their father, Popeye, played over 500 games in NBA stops with the Mavericks, Raptors, Celtics, Nuggets, Wizards and Warriors. 

It was during their stop in Denver that Hockey Hall of Famer Joe Sakic helped introduce the Jones kids to the game of hockey. 

"We were living in Colorado and we were all really young when the Colorado Avalanche won the Cup in 2000," Caleb explained. "My dad was playing for the Nuggets and he ran into Joe Sakic down in the Pepsi Center there and Joe told him what he needed to do to get us into hockey because we'd kind of gotten interested because the Avs were so big. Being the youngest brother, I kind of just followed them into the sport and we never looked back. We all loved it."

The two NHL brothers train together in Dallas during the offseason, but have yet to cross paths on the ice at the pro level, even as opponents. During exit interviews in Columbus at the end of the season, older brother Seth seemingly left the door open to testing the free-agent waters next summer after the final year of his contract.

Naturally, on Tuesday, Caleb was asked about the possibility of playing with his brother at some point, and if Chicago might be the place.  

"I wouldn't say it's ever been a dream, we both kind of just wanted to play in the NHL like a lot kids growing up," Caleb said. "Once we were fortunate, both of us, to get there, it's kind of popped up a few times (the idea of playing together). I've actually never even played against him, so I've been looking forward to that, for that day to come.

"Obviously playing with him would be really fun. He's kind of got his own situation going on over there, so we'll see what happens throughout the summer. If it ever did happen, it definitely would be really fun and we'd both enjoy it. It'd be really cool."

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