CALGARY, AB -- Sixty National Hockey League skates doesn’t feel like enough for forward Josh Jooris
to consider himself much of a veteran.
But he’s earned enough of a reputation that the long shots camping with the Calgary Flames have looked up to the 25-year-old.
Because like it or not, Jooris is their poster boy.
“My story is, I guess, a good one for guys that are in my shoes or in the same shoes I was last year,” Jooris said. “I see myself in a lot of the guys when I look at the prospects. Like, yeah, I was in that position last year. It’s kind of cool to see. I can use my experience and help those guys out. I think this organization always sticks by that ‘Always Earned’ motto and I’m an example of that.”
With the turn of a rebuild some two summers ago, Calgary’s new mantra was flashed everywhere.
‘Always Earned, Never Given,’ has been preached ad nauseum by coach Bob Hartley. It was scribbled on the backs of workout gear, plastered on walls, and engrained in those looking for an opportunity, any opportunity.
Jooris, who was never drafted and signed as a free agent out of Union College two years ago, took it to heart.
Entering just his second professional camp last fall, Jooris was penciled into one preseason game before becoming the poster boy for Hartley’s creed. Improving with each session, the Burlington, ON native bulled his way into a total of six preseason skates, scoring twice and adding an assist in the process.
He survived up until Calgary’s final cuts, but lasted just two games with the Adirondack Flames of the American Hockey League before earning a promotion to the main group.
Jooris never made it back to Adirondack, and recorded 12 goals and 12 assists with the Flames in 2014-15.
“I was really happy with my camp and the way things went last year, but my mindset never changed,” said Jooris, who signed a one-year, one-way extension this summer. “I knew I had a good camp and I knew I did what I wanted to do. The coaches made sure to let me know to keep positive and keep working hard. That’s what I’m going to keep using, that’s what I bring to the ice every day.”
He earned himself a one-year, one-way extension this summer.
And in the process, he’s become the example for those trying to follow down the same path.
“I just remember in the preseason games he really stood out,” recalled Bill Arnold, who was on hand to witness Jooris’ push and, like he was a season ago, is entering his second year of pro hockey.
“He was tenacious. He was competitive every time he stepped on the ice. That’s the type of attitude management wants to see. I’m going to try to bring that this year.
“It just gives you confidence that if you go out there and you play the right way and you’re honest about your game and your work ethic, you’re going to get your opportunities and that’s all you can ask for.”
Still, Jooris doesn’t necessarily feel like the example.
But he welcomes the position.
And, despite the fact that he needs to defend the jersey he stole last year, welcomes the opportunity to inspire.
“Well, there’s no giant hockey poster of me,” Jooris said. “But in that sense, it’s kind of cool. It’s a testament to this organization. It doesn’t matter who you are. If you’re going to perform on the ice and help the team win, you’re going to have a shot on this team. It’s no different for me now. I’m still one of those guys, I need to keep proving myself and make sure I’m wearing my jersey this year.”