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Countdown to Jones' NHL return, opening night for Ducks

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Across the corridors of Great Park Ice and Honda Center, there’s a tumultuous, urgent energy surrounding the Ducks just weeks before the club and its season opener against Seattle on October 12th.

Sure, all teams would say the same thing about building anticipation for a game that actually matters, but in Anaheim, it’s easy to feel a bigger, more passionate buzz than past seasons.

Perhaps the main reason for these reasons is the return of forwards Max JonesWith excitement and joy in his heart every day, he is about to fully return to the sport he has come to appreciate more than ever.

Jones’ 2021-22 season came to an abrupt halt just as it began last October with a bruise on the forward, who injured his pectoral muscle at the nets in Calgary. Deep down Jones knew something was seriously wrong, but he wanted the best.

“I knew something was wrong because I felt something was wrong,” recalls Jones. “I went in for an MRI in the morning, got in an Uber with my trainer, got a phone call from the doctor, and he broke the news. I was.

“It was devastating.”

The days that followed were the toughest of Jones’ adult life, full of mixed emotions. The disappointment of missing out on his 23-year-old season, the grief of being separated from his teammates and the freak accident that halted his momentum after a strong performance in training in his camp. There was even the anger of

Troy Terry, one of Jones’s closest friends, said, “It’s no secret that he’s loved by all.” Here we are through the block.Our team took a step back last year.It was hard for us and him not to take that step with us.But I’ve since learned how much he’s done for the rest of his life. I saw every minute how hard you worked.”

Jones relied on his teammates and family through those dark days. In particular, he remembers walking into the Edmonton locker room and being warmly greeted by his teammates. he keeps sticking with him.

But the support Jones expected, having lived his entire life in the atmosphere of brotherhood that a hockey locker room provided. What he wasn’t prepared for was the massive outpouring of support he received from Ducks fans on social media when the team officially announced his injury.

“I actually started crying a little bit just because I felt really loved,” Jones admitted. “Duck fans saw me in public and asked how I was doing. [last Saturday], I met a fan with the same chest injury, but with the exact same scar. It’s special to hear something like that. There was a Dax fan and he told me his story. “

That love inspired him to tackle the recovery process head-on, reminding him of what he was working on and that he was not alone in a difficult process. It also helped me rediscover the love I had for games.

“It gave me the motivation to go to the rink every day and really give it my all,” said Jones. “I knew there were people out there…everyone had their own battles. I felt

The Michigan native and former first-round pick wanted nothing more than to return to NHL action before the season was over. Even forcing coaches and trainers to dominate him, perhaps protecting the overzealous youngster from himself.

“Johnsy was the guy who had to go to PetSmart to get a shock collar after the first day I worked with him,” said the man, who frequently works with recovering players. Ducks skating and skill development coach Larry Baron recalled with a big laugh. “He was pulling so hard I had to give him a little bang. He’s a guy who really loves the game and is such a team guy. Sit back and watch those emotions and process them.” His evolved maturity that has to be done is to make him a more balanced player in the long run.”

When the season ended, at the urging of general manager Pat Verbeek, Jones took a month off to reflect and mentally turn the page for the new season. But then when it came time to make his comeback, Jones started running and the hard work he put in paid off in training camp.

“He took his time. He made it through,” Barron said. “And as we are now, the ice is his playground. He is reclaiming his identity, how he contributes and how he can be an impactful player for this team. ”

“He’s had to go through a lot of adversity,” added head coach Dallas Ekins. “He’s on the other side of that now…he’s obviously focused, he’s excited, he’s in great shape. He seems very ready.”

Off-season off-ice activities included a virtual battlefield as Jones and Terry formed the “Call of Duty Warzone” team with new teammates. Ryan Strom When Frank VatranoJones points to Strom as the group’s unofficial leader, an offseason signer who is always picking up fallen comrades and helping position the group for late-game success. also admitted with a hearty laugh that his on-ice “loose cannon” aggression carried over into the game.

And just like in real life, he and Terry stick together.

“Me and Troy play off each other a little bit, and Frankie and Stromer are team players,” Jones said. We hold each other accountable.”

Nearly a year after his injury, Jones says he feels like he’s back again, grinning broadly as he calls the first day of training camp “the best day of his life.”

“It’s like a weight off my shoulders,” he said. “On the first day of camp, when I woke up in the morning, I felt great. Driving to the rink with the windows closed, I felt great. It was like a tingle on the ice.”

After relentlessly badgering Ekins, Jones returned to NHL action for Anaheim’s preseason opener in Arizona on Sunday and quickly found himself in the middle of a post-whistle scrap.

“He’s one of those guys you love to be around. You can be around everyone, but fighting them every night is a different feeling. Feeling excited to have him back” is”

Now he has his sights set on opening night at the Honda Center.

“It’s really special to step on that ice and hear your name called and see the fans,” Jones said. “Knowing that I have a lot of support from the Dax fans can be a little emotional.

“I’m excited and excited to play in front of the fans again.”