One of the reasons the San jose Sharks are in the Western Conference Finals is the emergence of goaltender Martin Jones.
Jones, in his fourth season in the NHL, went 37-23-4 in the regular season.
In the playoffs, he kept up his stellar play, including a game seven shutout of the Nashville Predators in the Western Conference Semifinals. Overall, through the opening game of the conference finals, he is 8-5 with a 2.16 GAA.
DeBoer was in Prague with Team Canada when he first saw Jones. On how much he was looking at Jones and watching him, doing some advanced scouting, DeBoer said, “Not at all actually. I didn’t have the San Jose job at the time. That trade hadn’t been made yet. It was nice after I got the job, got to know him. We made the trade.
I spent three or four weeks with him. Him being the backup goalie, we got to spend a lot of time together at the end of practice working on stuff, because Mike Smith played most of the games. Just got to know him as a person, what a quality guy he is.”
DeBoer, who used to coach the Devils, went back to those roots to bring in someone to help Jones’ development, Johan Hedberg.
On how much influence Hedberg had on Jones’ development, DeBoer said, “Heddy was a key hire for me. He was one of the first guys I called Doug Wilson about when I took the job. I coached him in New Jersey. I felt even then as a player, he would have made an exceptional coach. Communicator, great in the room, everybody liked him.
“I also thought he had a really good hockey mind. He was one of those goalies that he understood all our systems. It wasn’t just about him stopping the puck. He knew what we were trying to do as a team, could explain all our systems to you as well as any of our forwards or defensemen.
“I really felt there was some coaching potential there when I was coaching him. I actually talked to him about that on his way out after retirement, not foreseeing the fact we may work together one day.
“It was one of the first names that popped in my head when I got the job. It worked. He was available and interested. He’s been a big part of our goaltending this year. It’s been a real strength, whereas in the past maybe it hasn’t been.”