|North Bay Battalion|
|Owen Sound Attack|
|Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds|
|Acadie-Bathurst Titan||Baie-Comeau Drakkar|
|Blainville-Boisbriand Armada||Cape Breton Screaming Eagles|
|Chicoutimi Sagueneens||Drummondville Voltigeurs|
|Gatineau Olympiques||Halifax Mooseheads|
|Moncton Wildcats||PEI Rocket|
|Quebec Remparts||Rimouski Oceanic|
|Rouyn-Noranda Huskies||Saint John Sea Dogs|
|Shawinigan Cataractes||Sherbrooke Phoenix|
|Val-d'Or Foreurs||Victoriaville Tigres|
While the Moose Jaw Warriors practiced last week one skater was shaking off “summer rust” as he prepared for the upcoming season, not the WHL season, but the NHL. Former Warrior and current Calgary Flames forward Blair Jones was on the ice at Mosaic Place, taking part in practice as he prepares for another year in the pro ranks.
“It’s great, with a new rink here and the set up that they have going I think it’s pretty special, for me to come back and skate it’s always fun,” Jones said when asked about skating with the team.
From Craik, Saskatchewan, Jones broke into the WHL with the Red Deer Rebels in the 2002-2003 season; he was dealt to the Tribe in the middle of the 2004-2005 season. 2005-2006 was his most successful season in the WHL; in 72 games he had 35 goals and 85 points, he led the team in playoff scoring with nine goals and 21 points in 22 games, and was a member of the 2006 team that won the Eastern Conference Final.
Jones grew up watching the Warriors; he was one of several stars on the 2006 team, and joins the long list of players who entertained fans at the historic Civic Centre. “It was a little bit depressing when I heard it was getting the axe. To see it (torn down) first hand was a bit sad, there was a lot of good memories in that building,” Jones said when reflecting on the Crushed Can.
“It’s sad to see, it’s too bad they couldn’t have just left it, it’s terrible to see it in a pile of rubble,” he added when talking about the Civic Centre. “For me that’s my favorite rink ever, in junior or pro it’s my all-time favorite.”
Jones, like many other alumni, have been walking through Mosaic Place over the last year and have been impressed with the facility and the amenities that the players/coaches get to take advantage of. “These guys are pretty fortunate, just being in the dressing room and the set up not only for the players but for the coaches and the trainers, it’s a lot easier for them.”
“It’s certainly a different situation than what we had,” he said when comparing the old facility to the new one. “It (Mosaic Place) can’t have the atmosphere (of the Civic Centre), but I heard it was pretty good in the playoffs last year.”
The Craik product is skating with the team in preparation of the upcoming NHL season, but with the current situation with a lockout pending even he didn’t know when he’d be on the ice for the Flames. “With the way the game has gone the last few years and the popularity it’s gained, I think it would be tough to have a stoppage. We just want a fair deal as players, the meetings are going on in the next couple days and hopefully we get something sorted out that’s fair for both sides. “
Even though Jones isn’t skating with his Flames teammates, he is taking this opportunity while with the Warriors to help out the current players in areas and give them advice. “I know when I first came in the WHL as a 16 year old I had a lot to learn and things weren’t always easy for me. I was one of the guys getting yelled at by the coach, I didn’t know really how to deal with it at the time. It’s nice to have someone there to help you along and someone who’s an outside voice, I think it’s fun for me to get out there.”
“Growing up I had a couple cousins who played for Moose Jaw and it was always exciting for me as a kid to come into the Crushed Can on a weekend and watch some games. For me it was special to end up getting traded here, playing, having some success and get drafted, then having a good last year and then turning pro,” he said when remembering back to his playing days with the Warriors.
“I always love coming back and giving back to the city that helped me out so much, I’ve always loved Moose Jaw, I always tell the guys (current players) they’re lucky to play in such a good city in the Western League,” he added.
It’s been years since Jones has worn his #14 Warriors jersey, but he admits that to this day the city and fans mean a lot to him, and he says the saying is true, “Once a Warriors, Always a Warrior.”
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