Blackhawks’ Seth Jones thinking big-picture with contract, rebuild starting simultaneously

Seth Jones hopes to be more aggressive with shooting opportunities in his second Blackhawks season.

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September 2022 didn’t seem far away to Seth Jones in July 2021, when he signed an eight-year, $76 million extension with the Blackhawks a year before his previous contract was set to expire.

The year in between turned out to be long and eventful, however, and not in a positive way. The Hawks’ outlook entering this season — technically the first of Jones’ massive new contract — is radically different than it was when Jones put pen to paper.

He’s understandably not thrilled about that. But he’s not searching for a loophole to allow him to escape Chicago, either. That’s just not the kind of guy he is.

“I don’t have any regrets from my decision,” the 27-year-old defenseman said Friday at training camp.

“It was a little frustrating to see [the trades this summer] at first. It’s not really what I or anybody had in mind, looking back a couple years. But it is what it is. It’s going to make a lot of us better in here. We’ll be patient with each other and help each other through this.”

Jones’ long-term stability compared to his teammates is remarkable. He has eight years left under contract; the Hawks’ projected 12-man forward corps have 18 years left under contract, combined. Fellow defenseman Connor Murphy and Jake McCabe are the only other Hawks with more than two years left.

So for better or worse, Jones will be here for the long haul. Ideally, by the second half of this mega-contract, the Hawks will be back in contention — back where he once imagined they’d be. In the meantime, though, he’ll have to accept some struggles.

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“[I’m] looking at the bigger picture, for sure,” he said. “Patience is going to be important this year. At the same time, we’re going into every game trying to win. We’re going to have to be a disciplined, structured team this year. [We need to] make sure teams earn their wins and goals against us.”

New coach Luke Richardson has asked Jones to assume an even bigger leadership role this season with captain Jonathan Toews’ departure on the horizon.

The two of them — Richardson and Jones — will likely spend a lot of time together through this rebuild, during which the rate of roster turnover will otherwise be high, and Jones’ steady presence could prove as valuable for Richardson as vice versa.

The main tenets of Richardson’s defensive system might help Jones improve upon his decent yet imperfect Hawks debut season, too.

Richardson is implementing a “box-plus-one” coverage scheme, aiming to aggressively shut down opponent puck movement and quickly exit the zone. He emphasized Friday that a defenseman’s first read, after retrieving the puck in the defensive zone, should be passing up the ice to a …read more

Source:: Chicago Sun Times


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