Nashville Predators defenseman Seth Jones’ rookie National Hockey League season is over, with the Preds failing to make the playoffs, but his hockey year is far from being done.
Jones was among the first 15 players named Tuesday to the U.S. Men’s National Team that will play in the 2014 International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship May 9-25 in Minsk, Belarus. Jones, the fourth player selected in the 2013 NHL Draft, played in 77 games for the Predators and tallied six goals and 19 assists. He averaged 19:37 minutes on ice per game.
Jones adds a wealth of international experience to the U.S. squad, having played for U.S. national development teams since 2010-11. He was a member of U.S. junior teams that won Gold Medals in 2013, 2012, and 2011. The son of former NBA player Popeye Jones was invited to the 2014 U.S. men’s hockey team’s pre-Olympic orientation camp last summer, the only invitee who hadn’t played in an NHL game.
He didn’t make the U.S. Olympic team but USA Hockey officials made it clear that Jones is definitely on their radar for the 2016 Winter Olympics, if the NHL sends its players to the Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. In the meantime, playing in the 2014 Worlds will mean that Jones will postpone rest for what already has been a long hockey period for him. He started the 2012-13 season with the Western Hockey League’s Portland Winterhawks, then played in the Junior World Championship, then returned to the Winterhawks for hockey’s Memorial Cup championship. He took about two-three weeks off between the time the Winterawks lost to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Halifax Mooseheads in the Memorial Cup final and the 2013 NHL Draft. “It definitely felt like a 12-year – er, 12 month season,” Jones said at the pre-Olympic orientation camp.
Jones could be a vital cog in USA Hockey rebuilding its national team after an American squad filled with NHL players failed to medal at
the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. That team was led by Pittsburgh Penguins Head Coach Dan Bylsma. USA Hockey
Tuesday named former Philadelphia Flyers Head Coach Peter Laviolette the bench boss of the 2014 men’s national team.
Laviolette served as an assistant coach in Sochi. Laviolette and his players will look to avenge the poor U.S. performance in Sochi and
improve upon the Bronze Medal the Americans won at the 2013 Worlds played in Helsinki and Stockholm last May.
The other players named to the team Tuesday were New York Islanders defenseman Matt Donovan; Torontoa Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner; Florida Panthers forward Jimmy Hayes; Boston College forward Kevin Hayes; goaltender Connor Hellebuyck of the University of Massachusetts-Lowell; Buffalo Sabres defenseman Jake McCabe; forward Peter Mueller of Switzerland’s Kloten Flyers; New York Islanders forward Brock Nelson; Edmonton Oilers defenseman Jeff Petry; Florida Panthers forward Drew Shore; Nashville Predators forward Craig Smith; forward Tim Stapleton of the AK Bars Kazan of Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League; Florida Panthers forward Vince Trocheck; and Winnipeg Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba.
The rest of the U.S. roster could be filled later with NHL players whose teams didn’t make the Stanley Cup Playoffs or are eliminated in the early rounds.