Ryan Jones may no longer wear the Miami University colors, but he’ll always be a Miami RedHawk at heart. The Chatham, Ont. native will perhaps be best remembered as not only one of the program’s most dynamic players, but also one of its most beloved and humblest.
His list of accomplishments during his four-year collegiate career is quite extensive. Jones served as a captain of the RedHawks for an astounding three years. He never missed a single game in his collegiate career, playing in all 161 – a new school record. His 21 career game-winning goals ranks him first all-time in Miami hockey history, while his 91 career goals rank him second all-time.
In his final season at Miami, Jones captained the RedHawks to a school-record 33 wins. He finished with 49 points (31 goals, 18 assists) playing in 42 games, which ranks him tied for seventh in the nation. His seven game-winning goals are tied for first in the nation. He was named a “Hobey Hat Trick” finalist for 2008 and selected to All-CCHA First Team. Most recently, he was named to the All-America West First Team.
Last month, Jones signed an entry-level contract with the Minnesota Wild.
When Hockey’s Future spoke with Jones after the Hobey Baker Award ceremony on Friday at the Pepsi Center in Denver, he reflected on his collegiate career with great emotion, sadness and pride.
HF: You just finished four years at Miami. Can you sum up what it meant to you to wear that jersey for four years?
RJ: It’s kind of hard to put in words. It was amazing and nothing less. When I chose to go to Miami, I knew that they had an atmosphere there that was a family atmosphere. Everything there is heart and soul, and I think that’s what makes it so hard to take the jersey off for kind of the last time because I had built so many great relationships down there. The program came so far and we were a goal away from taking another step as a program. So it was a little bit difficult. But my four years were just nothing less than amazing.
HF: Something that is so synonymous with Miami hockey is “The Brotherhood”. What has meant for you personally to be a part of it and how has it impacted you both as an individual and a player?
RJ: You kind of get spoiled when you go down there and are part of the Brotherhood because the team is so tight-knitted. It’s literally like having 26 brothers. You care that much about each one of your teammates. It makes going to rink every day enjoyable, and when it becomes enjoyable, you have a better chance of success just because you want to win and you want to work hard for the guy beside you. The Brotherhood takes on every aspect of life with school and the things that we do in the community. So I think that’s what makes Miami the heart and soul kind of program that it is.
HF: Your relationship with Coach Blasi, what was that like?
RJ: Rico is a great coach. It was kind of tough going down there because I had been at home for 20 years and never had to stray away from home. They welcomed me with open arms and it was great. He and I have a relationship that will go well beyond what has just ended at the program. So I think coach and I will be great friends and I’ll be hearing from him a lot.
HF: Do you see him more as a mentor or more as a friend or a little bit of both?
RJ: I’d say a little bit of both. He didn’t try to rub off his hockey style on me because I think he was a little soft in his day (laughs). He is definitely a mentor because like I said, he’s a great coach. He knows his stuff and his friendship is amazing as well.
HF: You had recently signed with Minnesota and have been playing with Houston (AHL). So how has that been for you going from playing at Miami to playing pro hockey?
RJ: I think I went about it the right way because if I went back (to Miami) and I was around the guys that much, it would’ve been difficult to leave. So I didn’t get to say too many goodbyes, which was a reason why I wanted to go back and see the guys again. I think my style adapted really well to the pro level from what I’ve gotten so far, because I play that puck possession game that isn’t usually seen too much in college. It’s more of a pro style game. A lot of people have said that I’d be a better pro player than a college player. I just hope that that’s true.
HF: So you have no regrets coming back to Miami this year? Because I know that Minnesota tried to sign you after last season.
RJ: You know people have asked me that a couple of times and I never once ever thought that I made the wrong decision because like I said in the press conference after the (Northeast regional) game. I came back to Miami to play with a bunch of people that I loved with 26 brothers. I enjoyed my last season. It was one of the most enjoyable years of my life, so I wouldn’t trade it away for any amount of money or any other experience.
HF: With your career at Miami now over, what would you like to be best remembered for?
RJ: I just want to be remembered for being a part of the best team that went through Miami. Thirty-three wins is something to be very proud of as a team. We were one bounce shy away. If I could be remembered for anything, it would be just as a leader and by my actions. I tend not to say a whole lot and just try to lead by example.