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Blackhawks’ Caleb Jones maintains confidence through recent adversity

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DALLAS — Blackhawks coach Luke Richardson recently sat down with struggling defenseman Caleb Jones to show a particular video clip.

In it, Lightning star Mikhail Sergachev — analytically one of the best performing defensemen in the NHL this season — casually slipped out from behind the net and lost the puck in the slot. The Stars forward Radekfaxa jumped into the pack and he scored the equalizer with less than five minutes remaining.

Richardson’s message? Over the course of thousands of shifts over 82 games, mistakes are inevitable. Even the best players make them. And they are not worth beating themselves.

“It can happen,” said Jones. “It’s just bad pack luck.” The season is long and it happens to everyone. [You have to] Stay confident, keep pushing and improve. It was a nice conversation. ”

Jones knows he’s been having a hard time lately. It’s no secret. His nightmare stretch began last week against the Hurricanes, when he, like Sergachev, scored with a disastrous pass from behind his own net.

It continued against the Blues when all five goals the Hawks allowed came to him on the ice. And it was against the Penguins when, after suffering a healthy wound to mentally reset against the Bruins, Sidney Crosby beat him to score the winning goal and ruin the Hawks’ comeback. reached its climax.

This season, the Hawks’ scoring chance percentage during Jones’ 5-for-5 ice time fell to 37.8%, which ranked 203rd among 211 defensive players. Over the last six games, his ratio was 31.4%. (To be fair, all Hawks defenses sit in the bottom half of the league.)

After Wednesday morning’s skating, Jones could only laugh at a -5 degree night. He had never experienced anything like it in his life playing hockey, but he still held himself accountable for his struggles, as he did throughout his tenure in Chicago. was

“The last three or four [games], there were some accidents,” Jones said. “When these games happen, I personally have to find a way. It’s just a learning process for me. I was a little out of sorts.So I have no choice but to have confidence and keep working hard.I’m in a bit of a slump.I’m fine.

Caleb_and_Richardson.jpg

Blackhawks coach Luke Richardson continues to support Caleb Jones.

Michael Reeves/Getty Images

Jones has become a lightning rod for criticism from some of the fanbase who desperately want him off the bench.

On the one hand, the Hawks suddenly have a defensive staffing problem. Ian Mitchell and Philip Ruth suffered healthy injuries on Wednesday, while Seth Jones returned from injury. It makes the least sense for two young players to pass up development opportunities while remaining in the lineup.

Jones, on the other hand, was enjoying very good hockey before this recent recession. It was remarkably clean. He was a good skater, often flashing top-four potential, but his inconsistency held him back.

For the record, Richardson has been a firm supporter of Jones at every turn and has consistently voted confidence.

“He did really well,” Richardson said Wednesday. “There have been some games where he has played on the ice looking for goals, but he is not the only one. He seems to have matured and grown. return to normal roles with a little less [demanding]he’ll be confident in it – and he should be.

Richardson’s support allowed Jones to keep his spirits up despite adversity.

That’s reflected in Jones’ optimism. He and the Hawks coaching staff believe his brother’s return will have positive knock-on effects for the rest of the defense. I expected a “decent size” group of , friends and advisors.

“We are all excited to get it [Seth] I’ll be back,” said Caleb Jones. “When you lose a guy like that, you all have to take on a little bit more. We’re doing something that never happened, and having him back takes the burden off of that and allows us all to get back to playing… Here’s how we were at the beginning of the year.”


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Written by Natalia Chi

Chicago Popular; Chicago breaking news, weather and live video. Covering local politics, health, traffic and sports for Chicago, the suburbs and northwest Indiana.

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