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Keith Jones: The Calm Before the Camp

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Keith Jones (AP photo)
Keith Jones (AP photo)

Philadelphia Flyers president Keith Jones was right on time for our meeting. Dressed in a blue-striped Under Armour polo with a Flyers logo, Jones looked like a confident, casual-Friday executive, perfect for summer.

What’s this like? I asked. Being president? Can we get a photo of you looking presidential? Jones laughed, an easy laugh that didn’t seem forced or rusty. Jones, who has been in our family rooms through his television commentary for more than two decades, seems very much like a people person.

We know Jones. Flyers fans know him well. It’s really strange, I told Jones. That voice is so familiar to me and here it is, standing right in front of me. That evoked another easy laugh from Jones. I suspect that wasn’t the first time he heard that about his ubiquitous and distinctive voice.

What’s this like, this presidential gig? People want to know.

“It’s going really, really well,” Jones said. 

“It’s been kind of a whirlwind but it’s exciting and really looking forward to training camp starting, rookie camp starting. Then, of course, the real stuff, which is not that far away.”

Philadelphia Flyers rookie camp starts Sept. 14 and training camp opens a week later. “The real stuff” begins Oct. 12 at Columbus.

This will be the first camp Jones will help oversee in his new role. He was named Philadelphia Flyers president only in May.

As a broadcaster, Jones could deliver criticism when he saw it on the ice. As team president, he is the dartboard, not the dart. If fans criticize anything about the Flyers, he will hear about it.

Camp ‘Exciting’

“Training camp is really, to me, exciting,” Jones said at a one-on-one interview session at Flyers Training Center in Voorhees.

“Just to see the work that the players have put down in the offseason, to really become familiar with our young players, our prospects, not just from this draft but from our previous drafts.

“Development Camp was a really great opportunity to become familiar with our guys. There’s a lot of excitement within the group of players that we have vying for spots and the veterans that are returning to try to build on some of the positive things that happened last year.”

In Jones’ voice and mannerisms you can see he is ready for camp to start today. Maybe yesterday. He’s a hockey guy and it’s nearly hockey season. And while that January trip to Winnipeg has its benefits, there is nothing like the beginning of camp. 

Looking at the Future

Training camp means there is promise and hopefulness and a future to look forward to. Every team is 0-0-0. Training camp means the beginning of what Jones, general manager Daniel Briere and coach John Tortorella constructed in the offseason. Parts added and parts departed. Draft picks offering brighter days down the road.

And training camp means feeling pressure, right?

“I don’t think it’s pressure; I think it’s motivation,” Jones said. 

“I do think there’s a lot of motivation on our part to grab our chunk and that’s going to take a lot of hard work on our part.

“But being around Danny Briere and dealing with [CEO] Dan Hilferty on a daily basis — no one is going to outwork us. I can guarantee that.

“I think it’s been proven over time, hard work with some hockey intelligence mixed in can lead to a lot of good things in the future.”

And that’s a future that Jones will help mold. Starting with training camp, and the real stuff, too.

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