"He is playing with desperation," Dallas Eakins said when I asked him his thoughts on Ryan Jones’ game since being recalled from OKC.  "I’m not saying he wasn’t working hard in training camp, but he didn’t play a lot of hockey last year, and I think he felt like he would ease him self back slowly. That is a normal human instinct, after being out with that type of injury, but since coming back from OKC he’s looked more assertive, " continued Eakins.

Jones is usually a pretty laid back, relaxed guy, but since being recalled from OKC he’s got a chip on his shoulder, and that is a good thing. Jones took an accidental helmet in the face during a battle drill yesterday, and for the remainder of practice his lip was bleeding and Jones was in a surly mood. Since returning from OKC he has played with desperation, but he’s also played with some anger.

I spoke with Jones yesterday in the dressing room and on the radio, and it was clear that the demotion to OKC gave him some confidence, but also some desperation.

After listening to Andrew Ference talk about the need for every individual to play their best, and compete their hardest in order for the team to win, I couldn’t help but think that Jones has started to do that the past few games.

The key will be maintaining that for the next 68 games, and not having many, if any, games where he isn’t working hard. Jones had some interesting things to say about competing and how the demotion to OKC actually helped him.

Gregor: What was your reaction and plan when you were sent down to the minors?

Ryan Jones: It was an opportunity to go down and work on things that the management and coaches talk about. And to be honest, it was an opportunity to play a lot of minutes, 18 or 19 minutes in some games. And being a go-to guy is kind of good for the mind and also for the body. It was good to go down and I wanted to go down with a positive attitude and the mindset that I’m going to work as hard as I can to be back, I wasn’t content with just playing. 

Gregor: Since you’ve come back, you’ve scored two goals, you had eights shots on goal vs. Toronto and you went after Kyle Clifford in LA, and you’re not a fighter. Eakins talked earlier about how guys have to get out of their comfort zone, did that resonate with you? 

Jones: Um… well it wasn’t said to me personally.  At the time I just felt that it was something that had to be addressed. As the old saying goes ‘don’t ask people to do something that you’re not willing to do yourself’ and that’s what leaders do. I don’t have a letter on my jersey and people may not consider me a leader, but I just felt that I had to do it at the time. Whether I knocked him out or if it was just a matter of me showing that I was willing, I had to do something and so I did. 

Gregor: When was the last time that you had eight shots on in a game? 

Jones: Never. Maybe juniors. It was just one of those games.  

I keep telling myself and reminding myself every game to be in front of the net more often, because that’s where you score goals. There have been a lot of guys, guys who are still around, guys in Detroit like [Johan] Franzen, and [Tomas] Holmstrom who just left there, and a guy like Smitty (Ryan Smyth). Those guys made a career just by being in front of the net, and this is no slight to them, but if you look at them, nobody would argue that they were the most skilled players on the team, but they scored a lot of goals.

Those guys were willing to go there, and they were good at what they did. And that’s what I’m trying to do. I’ve done it before at other levels and at spurts in the NHL. I’m just going to focus on the game at hand and have that in the back of my mind all of the time.


Gregor: Many will wonder, ‘why don’t you just do it all of the time?’ You have done it in spurts as you said, so is it a mental commitment more than physical almost? 

Jones: Well to be honest, it’s easier to play not in front of the net. Whether it’s your mind thinking it or it is one of those games where your body just can’t take any more beating, I’m not sure.

It hurts to play out front and anyone who tells you otherwise is a friggin liar. Because crosschecks hurt, slashes and high sticks and all that stuff hurts and that’s why there isn’t 12 forwards who play that way. Because there are some guys, I’m not saying guys on our team, but there are some guys around the league that people say ‘oh he’s got to go to the net’ and that’s why they don’t.

It takes a full commitment to play that game and also it’s a habit to go there. Where some guys want to be on the outside looking for a shot, some guys, like me, just have to find their way to the net.

It has to be something that you don’t have to think about when you’re out on the ice, not when there’s a play going on and you’re like ‘oh I should go to the net.’ It has to be something that you just find yourself there.  

And that’s what I found last game more often than not when Nuge  [Ryan Nugent-Hopkins] had the puck or Hemmer [Ales Hemsky] had the puck I just ended up out front because that’s where my game led me. There were a lot of pucks in close. I was hacking and whacking away. I could have used a bounce, but it didn’t happen. I can’t let that discourage me, I’ll just have to continue to do it, and eventually it will bounce in. 

Gregor: This team has a lot of skill, but based on results all of this skill together isn’t working. There needs to be a better mixture amongst the lines. When I look at you and Nugent-Hopkins and Hemsky, it’s kind of clear what your role on that line is and how it should be affective. Does that maybe make it even easier for you to say ‘hey if I go to the net, eventually the puck is going to get there with those two’? 

Jones: Sure. When I looked at the line when it went up on the board, I was like well I get to do what I like to do and what I’m good at. I go into the corner and get those guys the puck, I’m not going to throw them sauce across the blueline or anything like that, but by me going to the net, it makes that defenceman think that they have to honour me, which gives them space and allows them to play the game that they are good at.  

Having the puck on their stick is what we want for sure. Nobody wants to see it on my stick, unless it’s getting knocked into the net and I think it’s what’s best for our lines. So I’ll just continue to go to the net, no matter who I’m playing with and create space for my line mates, be hard to play against, and just hope to be called on in a lot of situations. 

Gregor: What was your Halloween costume? 

Jones: I went as Phil from Duck Dynasty. We had [Jeff] Petry as Uncle Si, Mrs. Petry as Willie and Mrs. Jones as Miss Kay. We had the whole crew and we looked darn good. 

Gregor: Excluding your foursome, which teammate would you say had the best costume? 

Jones: Nuge was above and beyond everybody. He was Forest Gump and his costume partner was Lieutenant Dan, wheelchair and all. She was phenomenal. Top five costumes of all time.


  • Sam Gagner tweeted that picture of him as Walter White and Nugent-Hopkins as Forrest Gump. If Gagner hadn’t tweeted that picture, I wouldn’t have known it was him.
  • Jones has played well since his return, but they key will be can he maintain it. I’m not talking about the goals, but more the willingness to go to the net, stand up for his teammates and play strong away from the puck. It is obvious the each player on the Oilers has to be more accountable to their own game if they are going to start winning.

    Jones will never be an offensive leader, but he is one of the few forwards in the top-nine who can go to the net consistently. He needs to do that to create havoc for the goalie, but also to create space for his more creative linemates.

  • The Oilers will not win consistently if they have all skilled forwards who play on the perimeter (not going to the net consistently) in the top six. They Eakins needs to mix in some muckers and grinders with the skill guys to get a better balance. The Oilers have to start scoring some ugly goals. The Oilers skill guys will go into traffic, but rarely do they have someone in front of the net.
  • Brian Burke wrote a very good article on why the NHL should allow fighting. Even the staunchest anti-fighting person will have a hard time arguing against his well-written stance.
  • David Perron wasn’t on the ice again today  witht the Oilers, he skated alone before practice and he is doubtful tomorrow vs. Detroit. Yesterday Eakins mentioned Perron was suffering from neck and back pain. Perron was one of the few forwards who spent a significant time in front of the opposing goalie. If he is out an extended period of time, that is another big loss for the Oilers.
  • Taylor Hall was back skating today. He is going on the road trip and could play as early as next weekend. Ryan Smyth will be a game time decision tomorrow, but if he doesn’t play expect to see him back in the lineup Tuesday in Florida.
  • Tickets are going fast for DJ Suitcase party November 22nd at the Pint…Sounding like our special guest list is also growing. If you are a sports fan, I think you will want to attend. You can get all the details and buy tickets here.


    • 27Ginge

      People say this because these guys aren’t 6’5″ 225 lbs. If yer not Lucic or Getzlaf yer a perimeter player apparently. Its impossible to win without huge forwards. Look at Detroit, Pittsburgh, Chicago and Boston. Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Crosby, Toews, Kane, Bergeron and Krejci. All these guys are really huge. So sick of hearing about how the oil are too small. Size doesn’t mean FA.

      • Jason Gregor

        Who plays with Crosby? Kunitz and Dupuis. Guys who go to the net. Also Malkin and Neal are on the 2nd line and they are big.

        Boston’s top six has Lucic, Iginla and Marchand, are you seriously saying they aren’t big.

        It isn’t just size, it is willingness to go to net. Toews is a demon. Do you remember what he said after he fought Joe Thornton.

        “You have to stand up for yourself. You can expect others to do it.”

        Those four teams win, because their top six has balance and they have guys who are elite two-way forwards.

        Comparing the Oilers to them at this point is laughable. They Oilers aren’t close.

        • 27Ginge

          Wasn’t comparing the Oil to these teams. I’m saying it’s BS that hall, nuge and ebs get a bad rap because they aren’t huge. I totally agree that the oil need some size. But I was agreeing with a guy who thinks it stupid that hall, nuge and ebs get unfairly labeled. Every guy I mentioned plays hard all over the ice without being big. That was the point I was making.

          • Zarny

            I think you misinterpret.

            Hall, Nuge and Ebs don’t get a bad rap because they aren’t huge.

            They don’t need to be huge.

            Someone they play with does though.

          • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

            No….actually you were comparing the Oilers to those teams…..and the point you made with emphasis was ” size doesn’t mean FA”…….you need to be more accountable to what you say.

          • Randaman

            When was the last time Eberle threw a check (not a thundering check but even rubbing someone off the puck)? I haven’t seen it all year. That’s the reason plain and simple. If you are not scoring, you better be doing something to help the team…

          • Jason Gregor

            Your last line was size means FA…I’d say that is very inaccurate.

            Who labelled them individually as bad? I pointed out a fact. The entire top-six group is small. They can’t score heavy goals, except the odd one from Hall. That is just factual, not a bad rap.

      • Zarny

        Yes, look at Detroit, Chicago, Boston and LA.

        Franzen, Lucic, Horton last year, Iginla, Carter, Brown.

        Toews is 6’2″ and can battle Chara physically. Malkin is 6’3″. Neal is 6’2″ 210 lbs. Brian Bickell is 6’4″ 233 lbs and put up 17 pts in 23 playoff games.

        Every team you mentioned has bigger, physical forwards who can score different types of goals than players like Kane, Crosby, Zetterberg, Datsyuk or Krejci.

        And that’s why they win.

        You can’t win with all of your top 6 F playing the same kind of game. If the Oilers had six big forwards like Lucic they’d need to swap some of them out for skill.

        Winning the Stanley Cup is about the right mix of players and right now the Oilers have no mix. It’s all the same.

          • Zarny

            Toews is at least an inch taller and 20 lbs heavier than Nuge. He has a much bigger frame.

            That’s significant I’m afraid.

            Hall is the only Oiler top 6 F that might fill out enough to be as strong as Toews.

          • Mikey

            It’s not all about size. Toews is tenacious. And presumably a lot stronger than he looks. Some guys are just naturally strong. While Nuge is great, He is not at the same level.

      • pkam

        Neither do Kane, Datsyuk, or Zetterberg, or the Sedins and they aren’t perimeter players either.

        If you can’t play on both the inside and the outside, and only on the inside, then the inside gets clogged up quite quickly.

        A hundred mile an hour fastball is useless without an off speed pitch.

        If Lebron couldn’t shoot a jump shot, he would be far less effective in the paint.

        • Zarny

          Actually Kane, Datsyuk, Zetterberg and the Sedins are more perimeter style players.

          Zetts is a beast on the puck and Dats is world-class defensively; but they aren’t banging in front of the net.

          You kind of made my point for me though.

          The Oilers have skilled players who can play on the outside like Kane, Datsyuk or the Sedins. Their entire top 6 F play that way.

          What the Oilers don’t have are guys like Lucic, Brown, Bickell, Toews, Horton or even a guy like Neal in Pit who can play on the inside.

          There are very, very few players who can literally do it all.

          • Craig1981

            I believe what they are missing more than a Lucic or a Brown is defense.

            I think its hard to evaluate everything else till thats fixed. I mean come on, how many players have the Oil passed through waivers? Larsen, Potter, Grev…

            Fix the D then access if Jones, Smyth, Hall, Joensuu, and Perror are not enough. IMO

  • Benny Botts


    Jason do you have any idea what they are doing with their goaltending? Is Dubby going to be back for Saturday? And if so, are they keeping all 3 guys around? And is there anything out there on if their bringing up a 7th D-man from OKC?

    • Jason Gregor

      They are waiting until he is a guarantee to play. They will send one down to OKC likely before the road trip. They won’t carry three on the trip, unless Dubnyk has a set back.

  • book¡e

    Jason, Burkes argument is the exact same argument that every pro-fighting person has made. Actually it is rather poorly made in my opinion.

    Some key comments – ‘The players are volunteers’. Not at all true. The players are employees. Yes, they have the right to not chose to be there, but in doing so, they give up their dream of playing NHL hockey and of millions of dollars. One could argue that this is an undue influence that overwhelms the ability of the player to not participate. Certainly, I could never get that type of incentive to pass a research ethics board where I work (you are free to participate or not participate in my risky research project that may cause you brain damage, however, if you do participate you and your family will be rich and you also get to live your dream of playing professional sports- or you can go sell cars).

    ‘Hockey has the perfect level of fighting now – Nobody wants more of it – nobody wants less of it’. Wait, 15 years ago people like Burke were arguing the same thing, but fighting has decreased. So, were they wrong then or wrong now.

    ‘Fighting keeps cheep shots and dangerous hits to a minimum in todays game’ – Uhm, why then was the game filled with cheap shots and dangerous hits in the 60s and 70s when fighting was common, but it is safer today when fighting is rare. One could argue that a game that is policed by referees and a system of formal discipline is actually the cause of improved safety today.

    ‘These are men playing with adrenaline and therefore they can’t be expected to be in control’ – There are many many cases where people engage in activities with high adrenaline levels. Imagine a police officer chasing down a suspect or two Olympic wrestlers. In either case, if one of the two begins throwing punches, they could be charged criminally. NHLers, despite being full of adrenaline somehow still almost always restrain themselves to taking actions that are permitted in the NHL (punching) and avoid things that are not. In other words, they are still in control. Similarly, these same NHLers almost never fight in Olympic hockey. Is it because they play Olympic hockey with less adrenaline?

    Finally, and this is my favorite one – the notion that fighting is used on ponds and outdoor rinks accross North America to police behaviour. Just for fun, try pummelling someone at the local rink and use this Brian Burke ariticle as a legal defence. It’s not 1980 where every game of pool at a bar ended in a fist fight. Fighting is no longer acceptable in society like it used to be. There is a reason for that as well – the random serious injury or death has cause society to revisit its notion of ‘men being men’ or of using violence as a means of settling disputes.

    Same old arguments. In any case, it doesn’t matter. Fighting is done in the NHL. Science and the legal system will push it out the same way that helmets became mandatory. Some people who romanticize tradition will moan and groan about it and make strawman arguments to support their opinion and others will just accept it. In the end the game will remain great because hockey is a fast paced, exciting sport.

    • Tikkanese

      Misinterpret much?

      He never said, nor implied that the game is safer today because fighting is rarer. He said and implied that it would be less safe if fighting was eliminated.

      Comparing Olympic hockey to the NHL is like comparing apples to oranges. Yes, they are both types of hockey, such as the latter is both types of fruit. Olympic hockey has little fighting because of multiple reasons. The four biggest are that Olympic hockey is played on a much larger ice surface. So there are way less collisions and chances for the “dirty” type of play that needs policing to happen. Secondly, only the elite of the elite players for each country are playing. There is no room for the Lapierre’s to play. Ie. less policing needed. Thirdly, the rules are different and generally harsher than in the NHL(I’m not arguing against that becoming the case in the NHL, just a fact). Fourthly, Olympic hockey is a one and done tournament. When compared to an NHL regular season where a loss from taking an extra penalty for some unneccessary stickwork, dangerous hit or from being in a fight is a vast difference.

      Burke never said or suggested that people should fight on the outdoor pond hockey. He simply said that the game is policed by others. That does not have to be solely fighting as he explained ad nauseam in his article, referencing how a simple statement while skating by the bench or at the faceoff is all that it takes sometimes.

  • book¡e

    The fab 5 need to carry this club to next level , and they are simply not doing it . Until they can , we will remain a bottom dweller . They are on for far to many goals against , compared to what they score . They got to carry us and it’s not happening . Defensively that group has a long way to go to shutting other top lines , and that includes puck battles . Our fab 5 right now is severely over rated in a lot of the aspects of their games and development .

  • Micbilly99

    Jason, the Oilers won’t start winning until they become a team that is much harder to paly against. The defense is soft and is very predictable because of the manner to which they are being instructed. Steve Smith’s method of teaching the defenseman is clearly not working. Every single one of the defenseman has either regressed or plateaued in his development. Why don’t we change the instructor?

    • Randaman

      I agree except for Smid. I’ve seen enough of his sliding on the ice, screening the goaltender, pushing players into our goalie, bad outlet passes, panic icing, etc.

  • Jason Gregor

    “fighting is one of the mechanisms that regulates the level of violence in our game.”

    I think this is a point I take great issue with. Like the statement if there is less fighting, there is more stickwork, or dirty plays. I see no evidence of this being true, and would argue the opposite is true. Fighting, as well as scrums after whistles seem to increase stick swinging and dirty hits. Fighting definitely increases the violence in the game, and having goons in lineups (who are often suspended for illegal hits) often increase violence in the game in non-fighting incidents.