The Curious Case of Josh Jooris

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Josh Jooris and hockey have gone hand-in-hand, like
spaghetti and meatballs, since Jooris was just a little tyke. While Mark
Jooris, father of Josh, grinded it out in leagues across Europe, his son – and
understudy – was quickly learning the ropes of the game he was growing into,
and developing a feverish passion for.

And as it turns out, he happened to have a knack for
it.

While all the other kids were just learning to pass the
puck, most throwing the disk where their target was rather than where they’d
be, 5 year old Josh Jooris was already dishing tape to tape feeds, his father
noted.

“I’ve seen this since he
was a little guy on the ice,” Mark Jooris told timesunion.com. “He
had great vision and anticipated and made great passes, as just a little guy he
was trying to do things that I’m like, ‘Wow, you just don’t teach that.’

Well, you know what they say,
the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and Josh Jooris has certainly inherited
his father’s hockey ability. According to his old man, he’s not only inherited
it, but cultivated said talent into something far beyond what he ever managed
to.

“He’s a way, way more a complete
player,” Jooris senior raved. “He hits and blocks shots and does all
that stuff. He’s a better skater than I ever was, too.”

All the attributes described by Jooris’ father have been well
on display these past few weeks, as Josh adds his name to the group of
relative unknowns who have made names for themselves at recent Flames camps –
namely Roman Horak, and TJ Brodie in recent memory.

And like his predecessors, Jooris is making decisions real
difficult for the coaching staff, forcing his way into discussions for the opening
day roster. Having already survived multiple rounds of cuts, Jooris is inching
ever closer to that NHL roster spot he craves, a step his father was never able
to make.

But where did Josh Jooris, the man literally born into the
sport, come from? The majority of Flames fans hadn’t even heard of #86 until
now, how can a guy like this just lurk in the woodwork, without getting
noticed? 

Well, Josh Jooris has never been the household name, but has
made something of a portfolio out of showing up at hockey camps and making a
statement.

Fresh off a 116 point season in the OJHL as a 19 year old, Jooris
followed in his fathers footsteps of playing college hockey, and agreed to
attend Union College. Funny enough, Mark Jooris laced up for bitter rival RPI –
skating alongside Adam Oates – and the junior Jooris embraced plenty of the
rivalry throughout his college stay.

Flashing back to his first October in college, coming off of
his first collegiate hockey camp, Jooris not only made the team as a rookie,
but was a big contributor too. He put up 9 goals and 32 points in 40 games – an
impressive feat for a freshman, albeit an older one. He would remain a key cog
to Union’s gameplan, on both sides off the puck, for the entirety of his NCAA
career.

However, he never blew the doors down in any way, so when
his ambitions focused on turning pro, the line of suitors was rather short.
Jooris had attended Vancouver Canucks rookie development camp prior to what would be his final
season at Union College, but nothing materialized from the stint. A calendar
year later, he was lacing up the bladed boots at WinSport for the beginning of
Calgary Flames development camp, his second crack at a pro gig. And this time,
Jooris had no intention to let it slip.

Although he had the option of returning for his senior year
at Union, the then 23 year old was dead set on playing pro hockey, a point
translated on the ice. Jooris’ name went from being in the “Who’s Invited to
Dev Camp” articles to the “Who’s Impressing at Dev Camp” real quick, the Flames
brass among the ones impressed. Calgary’s increased attention on collegiate
hockey had already built them an outsiders knowledge of what Jooris was about,
but their first hand look at the kid’s stuff convinced them he had a future in
the organization.

Jay Feaster extended the eager six-foot-one, 190 pounder an
entry level deal, at which he jumped at. Jackpot. His foot was finally in the
door.

Jooris would be assigned to Abbotsford relatively early into
his first NHL training camp last year, routine for a player most viewed as an
AHL depth signing. But an AHL depth player was not what Jooris had in mind for
himself. He would settle into life in Abby quite well, both on and off the ice,
establishing his worth right away. On the pond, he would play up and down the
lineup, contributing wherever he was needed. His superficial stats read 11
goals and 27 points in 73 games, but his value extended far beyond that for
what was a powerful Heat team. Many a time coach Tory Ward would credit Jooris
with making key plays, at key times in hockey games. He wasn’t the most
talented player on the ice, but to the best of his ability Josh Jooris
contributed each and every shift.

Off the ice, Jooris shared a house with fellow
rookies-out-of-college, Ben Hanowski and Corban Knight, which they all agreed
was a total blast. AbbyNews.com’s Dan Kinvig wrote a fun piece on the threeroomies and their adventures as first year pros, I really recommend it.

As rookie camp and the lot trickled by, Jooris entered his
second NHL camp in a much similar position – at least in the minds of the media
and fans – to the one he was in last year. He’d be just a filler for the split
squad games and would be promptly returned to the AHL thereafter, as he was
after all, “just an AHLer.” In the wise words of Borat: NOT.

Early on, Jooris impressed with his classic Bob Hartley work
ethic and relentlessness on the puck. Whatever skill and talent he had, it was
bundled in with his blue-collar attitude and made for a pretty impressive
hockey player.

Still though, coming into his date with the Winnipeg Jets,
Jooris’ counting stats lagged behind those he was battling for spots with – the
Johnny Gaudreaus and Michael Ferlands of the world, among others. So naturally,
he goes out and scores two massive goals. How do you send him back, now? The
statement has now been made in just every way in can be: Josh Jooris deserves a
shot with the Calgary Flames. Is he an NHL regular? That’s to be determined,
but he deserves at least a shot to prove it.

Josh Jooris has been attached to hockey at the hip since
before he could walk, and motivated by his father, has worked his way into the
biggest spotlight of all. His story is unorthodox, and has Cinderella-like
elements sprinkled throughout it 

This coming Tuesday, he will learn if he’s finally
attained his mountainous dream, or if it’ll need to be put on hold for a little
while longer. Having said that, if the Flames’ supposed motto “always earned,
never given” isn’t just a cute phrase giving off the illusion of
accountability, October 8 will be a very proud, and
especially memorable day, in the Jooris household.

  • FlamesRule

    This is what Flames management was asking young players to do. Jooris stepped up and has kicked butt in the pre-season, even if it is just a small sample size. Give him a shot in the regular season, if he does well, extend his stay. If he does poorly, send him Adirondack to play on a stacked AHL team.

    Pretty much win/win for me.

  • JMK

    Kids update:

    Looks like Mason McDOnald had a stellar performance last night (stats wise anyways), saved 38 of 39 shots in 3-1 win. Brings his record to 3-2-0, GAA of 3.19, and SV% of 0.908. Not too shabby, like that Walter White?? 😛

    Hunter Smith keeps up his point per game pace with an assist and a +2 in a 3-0 win. Also had 4 PIMs.

    Still no sign of Roy for Brandon. Kingston doing good without Bennett with 2 out 3 wins.

  • The Last Big Bear

    This whole “given not earned” hullabaloo is getting out of hand.

    People saying things like “Josh Jooris has earned a spot, and Devon Setoguchi hasn’t”.

    Devon Setoguchi has more NHL goals than any other person in the organisation. There’s only one year in his entire career where he *didnt* score at a 20 goal pace. THAT is how Setoguchi has earned a roster spot.

    Josh Jooris had a 2 goal game in the pre-season.

    I underrstand why this is being discussed, but I don’t get how there’s any real debate about who has done more to earn an NHL roster spot.

    What fans are talking about is not “meritocracy”, it’s “what have you done for me in the last few days?”

    A couple of good pre-season games does not “earn” you a roster spot from a career NHLer. You’re not going to waive Mark Giordano because he has a couple of bad games and give his spot to Ramage because Ramage had a 3 point night that weekend.

    If Jooris is still scoring multi-goal games and being the best player on the team in Adirondack after 20+ games, he will get a call-up, and if he delivers the goods during his call-up, THEN we can have this discussion again. Because that is how minor leaguers should be earning roster spots.

    Not by scoring two goals in a pre-season game.

    • SavardianSpinorama

      While Setoguchi has done little to impress me, your arguments have merit. My complaint – and I wasn’t against the Flames bringing him aboard – is that it would have been great if they’d kept one less veteran so they could shuffle some of these young guys in and out of the lineup with callups/demotions to/from Addy. Nevertheless, I look forward to watching the Flames regardless who
      is on the roster this season. For the most part, I like what the team has been doing.

    • Burnward

      LBB,
      From what I understand every Flames management and staff has been grading every single Flames practice and game this training camp. They then get together to compare notes and discuss. Although I get the concept of Gio etc as applies to Setogichi, I’m 100% confident it’s not “he scored 2 goals, he’s won a spot” as you seem to imply.

      I’m 100% behind the always earned, never given concept and meritocracy, and I’m pretty sure the staff is doing their work to make sure it is as fair as possible.

      • The Last Big Bear

        I know well that management is not going to make these decisions willy-nilly.

        But i know full well that fans and bloggers ARE, and they’re going to cry holy bloody murder when their new favorite prospect is sent down in favor of their new whipping boy, ala Jooris for Setoguchi, or Sven for Jones.

        • The Last Big Bear

          As a fan, I have no more love for Jooris as I do for Bouma. They are up-tempo, hard working guys trying to make an impact. Both have similar skills, with goal scoring possibly going to Jooris. If it comes down to Seto over Jooris, so be it. Seto will need to prove that he is a 15-20 goal scorer, or a defensive player, or a guy willing to sacrifice for the team.

          Jones has a leg up on Sven, if that is where a decision comes down to. RW vs LW players. Jones has been less effective in his NHL games than Baertschi last year. Jones played grittier hockey, though.

          I actually think that Baertschi is battling Byron. While Byron is better as a 13th forward, he does nothing for you in prospect development; he is not in the long-term plans.

    • piscera.infada

      While I agree that veterans get the benefit of the doubt one has to look at their recent track record. Gucchi’s play has been on the decline for 2 seasons and maybe/not he is finished as an NHLer; it was said that he was in the best shape he had been in for years and has not only been unproductive but has hardly been noticeable. He was brought in to be in the top 6, has he earned that spot? Top 9 forwards? He is not an energy line kind of guy. Would it surprise me if he stays up? Not at all but because he scored 30+ goals with Jumbo Joe and company does not make him the right fit for the Flames.

      I doubt anyone is expecting Jooris to score 20 goals but his other intangibles seem way ahead of Gucchi at this time, hard work, sound in all three zones, sounds a lot like a 3rd/4th liner in Hartleys system

    • beloch

      This was known as “The Gaudreau Effect” when Johnny Hockey was in Boston, specifically when referring to the sudden and unexpected surge in point generation made by both Arnold and Hayes when they were placed on Gaudreau’s line. Will this effect persist at the NHL level? It’s too soon to tell. It’s very possible though. Gaudreau’s passes are nothing short of magic at times. Once his linemates get used to the puck appearing on their sticks from out of nowhere the points may flow freely.

      Jooris has looked good this camp, but it is indeed a very small sample size. I’d like to dismiss that, but I’ve been burned too many times when evaluating players with a sample this small, both for good and for bad. Jooris’ career so far strongly suggests he’s not top six material. Can he be a solid bottom six possession player with a physical edge? Perhaps. The Flames do need that kind of player.

      The Flames are unlikely to make the playoffs this season, so the focus should obviously be on player development. Setoguchi is an established player and we know what to expect from him over a full season even if he’s had a bad preseason. However, letting him sit in the press box for a few games to give Jooris a better look is a smart move. He probably needs more time in the AHL, but giving him a chance to surprise or, at least, learn where his game needs work serves the long-term interests of the Flames. Setoguchi’s contributions for a few games are unlikely to have as much long-term impact, especially if he starts the season poorly, which his pre-season play does indicate.

  • The Last Big Bear

    Yeah, I’m not making any claims about who will or will not be on the roster long-term this season.

    I’m just saying that pre-season probably won’t (and rightly so) have all that much influence.

    • piscera.infada

      I agree with your take on Setoguchi regarding him having scored in the past, and thus earned a spot. That said, I have hated watching him in preseason, he is a guy that should be trying to prove something every time he has even an edge of one skate on the ice. The problem is that he hasn’t, he hasn’t done a thing of note in the preseason, except for the odd rush through the neutral zone. Look, I’m hoping he rejuvenates his career to the point where the organization can trade him (or keep him, if it’s that good), but I just don’t see it. Mason Raymond was in a very similar position last year, and what did he do? He went out and established himself throughout camp as being able to play a regular NHL shift. ‘Guchi hasn’t even done that. I just haven’t seen anything from him. If he surprises in the regular season, good for him. I’m not holding my breath though.

  • piscera.infada

    I have changed my mind on Setoguchi…Flames should keep him on the roster and the Flames will have a great shot at the first or second pick in 2015 draft!!