April 11, 2008 PRINT Bookmark and Share

Jones Displays His Character Too

by Dane DeKrey/Staff Writer

DENVER — Let's not kid ourselves — Michigan's Kevin Porter had won the Hobey Baker Award long before it was finally announced Friday evening at the Frozen Four.

He knew it, the committee knew it, even his fellow Hat Trick finalists knew it.

"I knew coming in that Kevin Porter, I'm not going to say he was going to walk away with it, but he's a phenomenal hockey player and he had a phenomenal year," said fellow finalist Ryan Jones, a senior from Miami. "And I think he was very deserving of the trophy."

In all fairness, Jones' year wasn't all that shabby, either.

During the presentation ceremony, Jones' fourth and final year at Miami was put on display, a year that included career highs in goals and points, as well as Jones finishing his career without ever missing a game. Enrico Blasi, Jones' coach at Miami, also praised the Chatham, Ontario, native's leadership and commitment to excellence in his capacity as team captain.

One thing that was missing from Jones' resume on Friday night, however, was his family.

With Hobey Baker-like selflessness, Jones explained their absence.

"There are a few illnesses going on in my family on both sides, so it was something where my parents kind of had to make a decision whether or not they could come down," Jones said. "And while they didn't make it to Denver, I know that they love me and that they're supporting me, even though they're not here."

Had Jones' family been in attendance, they almost surely would have commented on his new, clean-shaven look.

After all, it was only a week ago that Jones looked more mountain man than hockey player, with his long, flowing hair sticking from his helmet a trademark all season. But at season's conclusion, Jones lopped off his Brad Pitt-looking curls — curls he had been growing for nearly a year — as part of the Locks of Love program.

"It actually started out as a normal case of wanting to grow my hair, as every other hockey player seems to do," said a much younger looking Jones. "And then in the summer, the idea of growing it out and donating it to cancer came up. Recently, I was introduced to the young girl diagnosed with cancer, and she's a real inspiration in life; just seeing how she carries herself makes the small price of having hair in your face every game seem so insignificant."

With his draft rights belonging to the Minnesota Wild, there was also another reason behind Jones' overnight transformation.

"I got rid of it I think last Tuesday," Jones recalled. "I was actually told by some people in the Minnesota Wild organization to cut my hair ... so I cut it."

Thus, barring Jones experiencing a Samson-like effect by cutting his hair, Jones' future in the game of hockey seems bright; bright enough, in fact, that Jones is already traveling and playing with the Houston Aeros, the Wild's AHL affiliate.

And on Friday night, even though Jones didn't come away winning the Hobey Baker trophy, he can at least take solstice in knowing his hockey career is far from complete — long hair or not.

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