NHL.com's Q&A feature called "Five Questions With …" will run every Tuesday throughout the preseason and the 2017-18 regular season. We talk to key figures in the game and ask them questions to gain insight into their lives, careers and the latest news.
The latest edition features Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones:
Seth Jones couldn't believe the words coming out of his mouth after he was asked to name the worst job he had before becoming a professional hockey player.
"I don't think I've ever worked," the Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman said during the NHL Player Media Tour in New York City last week.
Jones paused, gave himself time to ponder the question for a few more seconds, time to remember any paying job he might have held before he became a pro hockey player four years ago, but nothing came to him.
"I don't think I've ever had a job," he said, laughing. "That's very sad. Wow."
Video: Seth Jones on Stanley Cup goal for Blue Jackets
He made his NHL debut with the Nashville Predators on Oct. 3, 2013, his 19th birthday. It was three months and three days after Nashville selected him with the No. 4 pick in the 2013 NHL Draft.
Prior to turning pro, Jones played one season of major junior hockey with Portland of the Western Hockey League and two seasons in the United States National Team Development Program, arriving shortly before his 16th birthday.
As the son of a professional basketball player, former NBA power forward Popeye Jones, he never had to get a job before turning up the heat on his pursuit of an NHL career.
But to say Jones never had a job is misleading. He has a big one now for the Blue Jackets as the No. 1 defenseman on a team with Stanley Cup championship aspirations this season.
"We want to win the Stanley Cup right now," Jones said.
He knows how big of a challenge that is, how big of a job, if you will, it's going to be, but here he explains why he's confident in the Blue Jackets' chances this season after they set their single-season records for wins (50) and points (108) in 2016-17.
Here are Five Questions with … Seth Jones:
You've mentioned the Blue Jackets want to win the Stanley Cup "right now." You said it confidently, and I don't think anyone would argue that it's at least realistic for you to think along those lines considering last season, the success and the players coming back. Thinking back to how you felt going into last season, your first full season in Columbus, do you think you could have said the same thing as confidently as you said it today?
"We've come a long way, I'll say that. When I got to Columbus (by trade from the Predators on Jan. 6, 2016), you knew it was in the room. You knew the core. You knew the values of the team. You knew the leadership and you knew it was there. But [last] year, we definitely translated it to the ice. I think having [coach John Tortorella] has really pushed us to a new level. It's pushed a lot of our leaders to a new level, places they didn't think any of us could be. He finds those little places in your game that need work. He'll call you out for them and he's going to be honest with you. That's something I really appreciate as a player. He's going to tell you whether you played good, bad, or whatever it is. I think that being the case, we're all on the same page, we're all on the same team, coaching staff, management and the players, we're all out to set one goal, and that's to win."
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OK, since you brought it up, what has Tortorella found in your game that needs work? What has he called you out for?
"When I first got to Columbus, it was just starting games. I wasn't on it right when the puck dropped. We had talks about that, just me and him. And in front of the team he would call me out for it in intermission. I like that. I like being pushed to a new level. I would come out in the second period and want to show him, like, I am ready to play. He pushes me in different ways. I think me growing as a leader this year is going to be an area he pushes me even more and somewhere where I want to grow."
Video: Alex Tanguay on Seth Jones missing the Top 50 list
Five games against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference First Round. That was it. A terrific regular season gone, and the promising season you guys were having was over in five games. What is your takeaway from that experience against the Penguins? How will that translate to this season?
"I just think last year we were young and not a lot of our players had even played in a single playoff game, and here we were playing the Stanley Cup champions, and they knew how to win. It seemed like actually we controlled a lot of the play against them, but they scored timely goals. They made the plays that needed to be made, and that's ultimately what a Stanley Cup champion does. Not everything goes their way. They have injuries, but they find a way. One year under our belt for a lot of us, including myself -- I've only played in 10 or 11 playoff games now -- it puts you one more lesson close to making the plays that need to be made, making plays under pressure, when it counts."
We can talk about the playoffs, about going for the Stanley Cup all we want, but it's September, so let's talk about the challenge right in front of you -- the Metropolitan Division. What is your immediate expectation about this division?
"It's crazy. The competition is so high every night. You could play three games in four nights, back-to-back against Pittsburgh and Washington and then go and play Philly in Philly, which is a tough building to play in. It's a tough schedule we have, but you play 30 games against your division and every night we have to bring it. These teams are getting better, so obviously we have to get better as well."
You're 22 years old, about to turn 23 on Oct. 3, and you're already going in your fifth NHL season. Plus, you've been traded once already. Tell me about where you think you are in your career right now, the path you're on. Are you ahead of your own expectations, on pace with them, behind them?
"I'm just on a learning curve right now, and that curve needs to be trending upward. From my first year to now, I think I've taken major steps, and I hope in another four years I can say I've taken just as many major steps, or even more. With my game, it's just consistency now. Every single game I have to bring the same thing. That's what the best defensemen do. You look at [Erik] Karlsson, [Brent] Burns, every single night you know what you're going to get. I have to grow into that now. I've played four years now. It's just being a leader. I've had talks with Torts about growing into more of a leadership role. Playing with Zach [Werenski], who is the age of my little brother [Caleb Jones], we had a phenomenal time last year. I'm learning things from him. I'm trying to teach him things, and we're just feeding off each other. We have a great D corps there, Jack Johnson, [David] Savard, Ryan Murray. We're deep on the back end. We all have fun together and we're close. I think that's key when you're going into the season, to get deep into the playoffs."