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Jones gearing up for big season

by Seth Jones

Seth Jones is a defenseman for the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League. The 6-foot-4, 205-pound defenseman has solid athletic bloodlines -- his father, Popeye Jones, played 11 seasons in the NBA. Jones excelled the last two seasons for the U.S. National Team Development Program and likely will play for the U.S. at the 2013 World Junior Championship. Jones has offered to maintain a monthly blog for that will chronicle his season leading up to the 2013 NHL Draft.

Hi everyone. My name is Seth Jones, and this season I will be playing for the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League and I am extremely anxious for the season to be on its way.

Some of you might have heard of my father, Popeye Jones, who played in the NBA and now is an assistant coach for the Brooklyn Nets. You're probably asking yourself how I got into hockey if my dad was a professional basketball player. Not only do I play hockey, but my older brother Justin and my younger brother Caleb also play.

I was born in Dallas, Texas, and moved around quite a bit because of my dad's career. My family finally settled in Denver, where we ended up living for eight years. I first stepped on the ice when I was about 5 years old. My friends at school were all beginning to play hockey and they influenced me into trying it as well. It was something that I liked, but wasn't very passionate about. But that changed in 2001. I was 7 years old and happened to be at Game 7 when the Colorado Avalanche defeated the New Jersey Devils in the Stanley Cup Final. This was the most unbelievable experience of my life at the time. From that point on my dream was to make it to the National Hockey League and win a Stanley Cup.

Winterhawks defenseman Seth Jones in action
(Photo: Christopher Mast)

The first thing I wanted to do was learn how to skate really well because while I was watching all those hockey games, I noticed that was the most important attribute to being successful. So my mom got me to take lessons multiple times a week that just focused on skating and only skating. I played youth hockey in Colorado and then we moved back to Texas about six years ago when my dad decided to take an assistant coaching job with the Dallas Mavericks. I continued to play youth hockey in Dallas and a little over two years ago got an opportunity that does not come around for too many people -- I was invited to play for the U.S. National Team Development Program based out of Ann Arbor, Mich.

This was the first time I would be living away from my family and it wasn't easy to move away from them. But I became comfortable quickly and it was a smoother transition than I would have expected. The USNTDP was huge for me personally. My biggest issue was I did not weigh enough and I knew the program really focused on the physical development side of things off the ice. And playing against 20-year-olds at just 16 really helps, too. I left Ann Arbor after two years with the program 25 pounds heavier. This was a major accomplishment for me and it gave me more confidence on the ice.

Now it's time to get ready for the season in Portland. I got here Aug. 21 and it's been great. It's been very easy to get adjusted. I'm very comfortable, the guys are all very easy to get along with. I felt part of the team from the moment I got here.

My decision to come to Portland wasn't an easy one. It came down to Portland or the University of North Dakota, but I felt really comfortable with the coaching staff, Mike Johnston and Travis Green. I knew I'd be pushed here with players like Ty Rattie and Derrick Pouliot. I was told I'd be playing most of the season with him, which would be great. And the WHL is a great league and an older league, you play more games. And the playoff situation, that was a big part of it -- you play in a series like the NHL does. That was kind of a big part in my decision, too.

We played our first preseason games this past Saturday, in Everett. I played two of the three games in the tournament there, and it's funny my first games were there. They drafted me in the WHL in 2009 and traded me to Portland this summer. It was fun; I got a lot of boos from the crowd. Every time I touched the puck they booed, which was fun.

Our regular season starts Sept. 21, and that also starts the march toward the 2013 NHL Draft. I know how important that is, but I will be doing my best not to think about it, and only focus on getting better by pushing my teammates and myself every practice; on the ice or off it.

I hope you enjoyed this first blog and will follow along here the rest of the season.

Follow Seth Jones on Twitter: @seth_jones04

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