ST. PAUL -- Goaltenders have a reputation of being some of the most unique individuals in sports.
Bizarre. Unusual. Odd. Different. Pick your adjective, any of them usually apply. But for Wild prospect Hunter Jones, his quirk is a little more ... normal.
Selected by Minnesota in the second round of last month's NHL Draft in Vancouver, Jones is an accomplished self-taught musician, who not only sings, but also plays guitar, piano and drums.
Jones, quite literally, is a one-man band.
"I've always been really interested in music growing up," Jones said. "I used to always sing around the house because I'm an only child. So I'm sure I was really bad at the start, but I got better."
And boy did he.
Not long after he began singing competitively, Jones begged his dad to let him try out for the Canadian television show, "The Next Star," a reality show that was a competition to find the most talented singer in Canada aged 15 or under.
Video: Get to Know Hunter Jones
His dad wouldn't bring him to tryouts, however, unless he also learned an instrument, so he spent the entire next summer learning how to play guitar.
The following year, he went out for the show and made it through several rounds before finally getting cut during the TV shooting auditions.
Still just a year or two into his new passion, the fact he was able to make it that far fueled his passion for music even more.
"After I did that, I went to a bunch of fairs around town, went to singing competitions and talent shows," Jones said. "I was winning envelopes of money on the side. I mean, you're 15 years old and you're winning 500 bucks for winning a competition. You can buy 'Call of Duty' with that."
Jones began playing the piano during his first season with the Peterborough Petes. A high school student when not playing hockey, Jones had a music class on his schedule where he was first introduced to it.
With an open period to start his school day, Jones would head up to the music room and play piano on his own.
He bought his first set of drums on a whim, purchasing his first set from a neighbor who also played. There wasn't anything that pushed him towards buying it other than a simple love of music.
As of now, Jones only performs covers, but he said he does write his own music as well. Eventually, his goal is to perform that as well.
"I've never really performed my own music because I don't know if it's any good," Jones said. "When I sing stuff, I usually sing pop-ish stuff or country. But when I'm playing electric guitar in my room, it's usually a lot of rock. The electric guitar is fun when it sounds like that."
His go-to song that he says he's performed more than any other is Jason Mraz's 2005 hit, "I'm Yours."
"It's a good tune," Jones said, moments before showing his youth. "It's old though."
On the ice, that youth is a big reason why the Wild is excited about the future between the posts.
While Minnesota's immediate future in goal is secure with veterans Devan Dubnyk and Alex Stalock signed for the next two and three seasons, respectively, the long-term future was in doubt.
Kaapo Kahkonen had a great first half of the season in Iowa last season, earning a spot in the AHL All-Star Game. But when the team made its Calder Cup Playoff run, it was veteran Andrew Hammond who started and played every minute.
Hammond has since signed with the Buffalo Sabres.
Mat Robson was signed after a stellar three-year collegiate career at the University of Minnesota, and he should compete with Kahkonen for playing time in Iowa this season.
Beyond Dereck Baribeau, who will be back in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League this upcoming season, the Wild had no other goaltenders in its pipeline until the draft, when it selected Jones in the second round, and Filip Lindberg in the seventh round.
Video: Jones happy to be selected by Wild
Jones was rated by some as the second-best goaltender in the draft, and was the third-ranked North American goaltender by NHL Central Scouting. He'll be back in Peterborough for the upcoming season, where he will be the Petes' starting goaltender for a second consecutive season.
"Each and every time he went on the ice [last season], he got better," said Peterborough General Manage Mike Oke. "Over the past couple of seasons, he's had the opportunity to participate in some of the Hockey Canada programs, and in working with our goalie coach, we've really noticed a steady improvement. He's focused and determined to get better."
And while hockey is his number one passion, and his new goal is to one day be the Wild's No.1 goaltender, don't be surprised if you see Jones' name with a No. 1 hit on the music charts either.
In both arenas, his future is bright.
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