The Jones Brothers Speak: Joining the Blackhawks, Leading the Defensemen, and Being Role Models for the Black Hockey Community

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The Jones Brothers Speak: Joining the Blackhawks, Leading the Defensemen, and Being Role Models for the Black Hockey Community

Chicago Blackhawks

First it was Caleb, then Seth joined the club. And just like that, the Jones Brothers landed with the Chicago Blackhawks.

It’s been an interesting summer for the franchise, but the acquisition of the blue-liners, mainly Seth but we cannot count out Caleb, has been one of the major talking points for Chicago this offseason. It’s also, hopefully, one of the major turning points for the franchise to get the Blackhawks moving back in the right direction and back into consistent Stanley Cup Playoff contention.

In the latest episode of The Hockey News Podcast, hosted by Matt Larkin, the Jones brothers talked about their journey to becoming teammates in Chicago and what they expect in the next season and beyond. You can find the full podcast here

Seth talked about how the trade to the Blackhawks came about and what it means to him to be playing with his younger brother Caleb:

Chicago has always been a fascinating city for me and just playing in that building gives you chills. They were high on my list, I had some other teams involved as well, but at the end of the day Chicago was able to get something done with Columbus…I’m very happy I’m a Blackhawk now and I’m very excited for the season to start.

It’s definitely something that is exciting. I wanted to sign a long-term deal there [in Chicago], even before Caleb got traded there, but with him being there, it was a huge plus. He’s been up and down in the minors and I’ve been in the league for eight years now, but we haven’t even had a chance to against each other, so it’s funny now that we will play with each other.

Caleb, a veteran of 93 NHL games and 125 AHL games with the Edmonton Oilers organization, is a former fourth-round pick by the Oilers and a two-time World Junior Championships Gold Medalist with Team USA at the U18 and U20 levels.

He was acquired from Edmonton, along with a conditional third-round pick, in exchange for Duncan Keith. His trade story is that he learned he was headed to the Blackhawks while playing video games, NBA 2K to be exact. As for Seth’s trade to Chicago, the brothers learned of the trade at the same time, as Caleb and Seth explained on the podcast:

(Caleb) We were together going to a family dinner when it all started going down. It was just like a ten-minute sequence and bang, he was a Blackhawk and the extension done. It was a cool night and it didn’t really register until the next day when we went to Chicago and then you realize that you are playing with your brother.

(Seth) We were at dinner with my Mom and we were getting a bunch of calls, texts, and Twitter seems to be the news source these days, so when you see it there it’s pretty much real. I was getting calls from team services and they told us they wanted us to come to Chicago, so we had to rush through dinner, get home and get on a flight to Chicago the next day.

The Jones brothers were introduced to the team the next day while also enjoying some time at Wrigley Field, throwing out the first pitch at the Cubs game shortly after landing in the city.

With the age difference between Seth (26) and Caleb (24), the two haven’t been able to play against or with each other at any level before. Playing in Chicago will be their first opportunity to do so, even though both have had similar paths to their professional careers with both having played for the Portland Winterhawks in the WHL and for Team USA at multiple levels in the development program. As for playing on the same defensive pair, they said they’ll leave that up to the coaching staff.

Larkin points out the obvious with the changes in the Blackhawks’ defense group this summer with Duncan Keith (Edmonton) and Brent Seabrook (Tampa Bay/retired) no longer with the organization. Seth is coming into the club now as the true, No.1 defenseman of the group and will likely be looked at as another leader on and off the ice for the Blackhawks. He looks at the new-look defensive core and figures he can step into that role…

They’ve had some good defensemen there with Connor Murphy. We’ve added Jake McCabe and obviously Caleb, we have some good players that have been there. I’m going to go in and just play my game, be who I am on the ice and in the locker room. Obviously, I want to be a No. 1 right away and play in all situations, but at the end of the day I trust the coaching staff to put me in the right positions to be successful and to make the team successful. Obviously I want to have a great season and a great rest of my career personally, but not be the team’s downfall. Like I said, it’s about the team first and I trust the coaches to make that call.

What a hockey answer.

But it sounds like Seth knows the weight that is being placed on his acquisition and extension with the Blackhawks, a franchise that not too long ago was at the top of the NHL mountain and one of the most-marketed teams in the league. Things have changed quickly since then, for many reasons, but Jones wants to be part of turning things back around.

Finishing up with this topic brought up by Larkin, because I don’t want to give away everything in the podcast episode (go listen to/watch it here in its entirety), the Black community within the hockey world is underserved when it comes to on-ice and front office representation. Seth and Caleb are part of that community as Black players and will be playing for a market in Chicago, which has a nearly 50-50 split in population between White and BIPOC citizens. Do they feel that being on the Blackhawks, at the same time, gives them a rare opportunity to be role models within that community?

(Caleb) We haven’t had too much time to process that, but I think going into a market like Chicago, you can do a lot for the community. Getting kids involved in certain areas, getting them some hockey gear, donating stuff, go out and help kids, those are things we can do and as brothers, help the marketability of that.

(Seth) There’s obviously a lot of light shined on the African-American hockey players these days, because there are so few of them. I think that with me and Caleb being on the same team, we can be very marketable in that aspect of the game. So we have to perform on the ice and that will help it. I know the Blackhawks are first-class when it comes to getting out in the community and making things happen. Whether it’s getting kids to Fifth Third Bank Ice Arena to skate with us or going to play street hockey, there are many things that they do and I’m sure they are going to have us doing certain things for the community and that will be great.

Also within the podcast, which I highly recommend checking out the full episode with Larkin, we learn about:

•   Seth Jones’ work with Uncle Bud’s Hemp and CBD products, which he uses for workouts/recovery and is an ambassador for.
•   Their offseason and in-season living situation.
•   A VERY entertaining rapid-fire section with the brothers answering about questions about each other.

Seth and Caleb are going to be part of the new-look, post-“rebuild” Blackhawks this upcoming season and expectations will be high in Chicago, for this season and beyond. While Caleb has just one-year remaining on his current deal, Seth is extended through the 2029-30 season and is likely going to be one of the biggest building blocks for the club as they move into the next era of hockey beyond the “One Goal” era. Jones, along with players like Kirby Dach and Alex DeBrincat are likely going to be the key pieces of the next “core” of players with the Blackhawks, so hopefully the gamble that Chicago made in trading for Seth pays off in the long run.



Author: Mario Tirabassi

Mario Tirabassi is a writer for Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Mario_Tirabassi.