Anaheim Ducks: Q&A with Max Jones of the San Diego Gulls

TUCSON, AZ - SEPTEMBER 25: Anaheim Ducks left wing Max Jones (46) controls the puck during a preseason hockey game between the Anaheim Ducks and Arizona Coyotes on September 25, 2017, at Tucson Convention Center in Tucson, AZ. (Photo by Jacob Snow/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
TUCSON, AZ - SEPTEMBER 25: Anaheim Ducks left wing Max Jones (46) controls the puck during a preseason hockey game between the Anaheim Ducks and Arizona Coyotes on September 25, 2017, at Tucson Convention Center in Tucson, AZ. (Photo by Jacob Snow/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

The Anaheim Ducks 2016 first round pick, Max Jones, is back from injury and playing with the San Diego Gulls in the AHL. He sat down with our contributor, Eddy Jones, on the Forever Mighty Podcast to talk the Gulls Golf Classic, living in San Diego, transitioning to the AHL, and… borrowing Dallas Eakins car?

**Editors Note** First of all, I would just like to say that I am really excited for you to read this interview with the Anaheim Ducks first-round selection in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, Max Jones. Max is going to be a great asset for the Anaheim Ducks in the future!

Although we are not affiliated with Forever Mighty, our contributor Eddy Jones, along with his co-host Jason Lamb, conducted this interview and wanted to share it with you. We have full permission from Forever Mighty to use the content in the interview conducted by Eddy and Jason with Max Jones. 

The gentlemen at Forever Mighty are very supportive of Pucks of a Feather and everything we do here, and it has been an honor to get to know them and not only be fellow Anaheim Ducks fans, but to become their friends. I would like to extend a big thank you to our contributor Eddy Jones, and his co-hosts, Patrick Mahoney, and Jason Lamb for their continued support and for allowing us to be a part of this interview. 

I hope you enjoy reading this just as much as I did. 

-Ciara Durant

Below we have a transcript from the interview with San Diego Gulls forward Max Jones. The audio version of the interview is located at the bottom of the article.

Forever Mighty: With the Gulls Golf Classic taking place a few days ago, how good is yours and Josh Mahura’s golf game? Because the Gulls twitter slapped a Happy Gilmore quote on your driving range picture so we can take that one of two ways.

Max Jones: I would say I’m more of a Shooter McGavin, consistency type player, and Mahura is more with the Happy Gilmore, kind of, good shot and kind of just picks it up and he’s a good player. Our golf games are pretty good. The whole day was a great day, but that was my first time golfing since before I got hurt so it was kind of a struggle.

(FM:) Are you a big golf guy?

(MJ:) Yeah, I love golf. I just hadn’t been able to go because I was hurt and then getting everything situated for the season.

(FM:) I guess the biggest thing in golf right now is happening in Vegas on November 23rd. Unfortunately, you guys have a game against Stockton, but are you going to catch the Tiger Woods vs Phil Mickelson showdown?

(MJ:) I know. It’s one of those things where it’s like you really want to see it but you gotta work right. I mean it’s one of those things you can’t really record because you’re going to see it on social media, like the outcome and what not. Like game day rituals are a little different, so I kind of have to shut it down all day for my rituals and my routine I go through.

(FM:) Obviously it’s a big change moving out to San Diego. How has it been getting settled in and what’s the best part about living in San Diego?

(MJ:) It’s been great! Everything about it… (Max’s food arrives via delivery)… like right there ordering food I get to do that so! Just being by the water, having the ability to not go through winter is nice. We get to go to the rink in sandals and shorts every day, so I’m thankful for that. The guys on the team are super nice, everything about it here has been a blessing.

(FM:) So let’s talk about your start in San Diego this year. How has the recovery been from the hand injury and how does it feel to be back with the team?

(MJ:) The recovery was good, it was a long time coming. I mean, getting hurt back in development camp it kinda just sucks. You know, being the middle of the summer and then kind of having to rehab the rest of the summer and obviously missing camp and missing training camp and not being able to have that opportunity to make the Ducks.

It just kinda shows a lot about your character, whether you’re going to sit down and cry about it or you’re gonna look at the end of the tunnel and you’re going to work through it. That’s kind of what I did and I’m just coming back and it’s still tough for me right now, just trying to get everything underneath me and trying to get everything situated and back in game shape.

I think I’ve only played what? 5 games, 6 games… and still trying to get back… It’s tough, but the guys that I’ve been playing with and the staff and the coaching, they’ve all helped me and I couldn’t be more thankful.

(FM:) Last time we talked, we discussed how you were just coming off a season where you couldn’t buy an assist with 3 in 25 games for London, now you’ve got 3 in six games with San Diego. How has the transition from Junior Hockey to the AHL been?

(MJ:) Last year was a little different of a year. I haven’t had a year like that in a long time. I couldn’t get the puck to go in the net from other guys. I just, you know, would make great plays but they just weren’t going in. It was a big running joke, I think at one point I had like 19 goals and 1 assist in like 21 games.

I was averaging almost a goal a game but had like 0 assists, it was the weirdest thing ever. It’s just one of those years, right? But now I come down here, you make simple plays, you do the right things and you’ll get the points rewarded. My plus-minus is pretty good too, so that feels pretty good to not be getting scored on and I get back into the game.

Just the season so far right is going pretty well. The guys I’ve been playing with, Troy Terry and Sam Steel, we’re doing pretty well together and we feed off each other pretty well.

(FM:) Has there been any unexpected hurdles or things that came easier than you expected switching from the Junior to the AHL?

(MJ:) The toughest thing right now is probably cooking at home, to be honest with you. Nothing even hockey related. It’s all about just living on your own right, doing laundry and all that and just kinda being a grown up now right.

On the ice, nothing really changed. The speed of my game hasn’t changed, my strength hasn’t changed, the guys that you play against it changes a little bit, they’re older and maybe a little bit stronger, and that situation kind of changes. It definitely doesn’t change my game, or the way I approach it, or how I played differently from junior to pro now. I’m still going to be the same player.

(FM:) Well you scored your first regular-season professional goal on November 3rd against Ontario. How it’d feel to finally hit that milestone and get one under the belt?

(MJ:) It was nice, it was really nice. Especially just with the circumstances, we were trying to get back in the game against them and to put that one in. It was a great chip pass from Troy [Terry], and to put that one in it felt really good to kinda get that one out of the way early. I didn’t have to wait a couple games and have that monkey on my back. It was really nice to get that off my shoulders.

(FM:) You’ve been playing on a line with Sam Steel and Troy Terry recently, how has that gone so far and have you guys been able to start building some chemistry?

(MJ:) It’s been going great. I mean we’ve now played two games together on a line, and I think right off the bat we were actually connecting pretty well. A lot better than I think I thought we were going too.

Just the way it is when you play with new guys on a new line, it’s gonna take a little bit to click, but we were making some good plays up on the rush and in the offensive zone. We were cycling the puck well, finding each other, and that’s what’s going to make us successful.

In yesterday’s game we did pretty well, we’re taking it day-by-day and I think game-by-game we are just going to start getting better and better.

(FM:) A lot of Ducks fans feel it’s a matter of when, not if, you crack the lineup with the Anaheim Ducks. What do you hope to bring to the team and how do you feel your style meshes with the way the Ducks play?

(MJ:) I’m obviously a big power forward, I mean I’m 6’3”, 220 pounds and I can skate like the wind. I think that’s my best asset. That I’m a really big guy that can skate really fast and I think that’s what they liked and praised most about me.

I think that’s something that I will have to bring to the next level and just use my speed, and another thing is my toughness and my grit. The corners are something that I can work easily down low, and finishing my checks on the defencemen is going to open up a lot of ice for my line-mates and whoever I play with. I think that’s something I’d just bring to the next level and that’s the way I will fit in with the Ducks.

(FM:) What if any advice have the veterans you’ve played within the Ducks organization given you to help transition from Junior to professional hockey or to help deal with recovering from your injury?

(MJ:) Back when I was hurt still in Anaheim, I was skating and doing rehab with Patrick Eaves. He’s gotta be one of the nicest guys I think I’ve ever met. You know, having a veteran like that, kinda be over you, and talking to you, and helping you out.

Just the way he was trying to come back from injury also, was something that was pretty special to me. I think as a young guy just starting his pro career, and being able to come back from an injury with a guy who has played in the league for years and years is something that I’ll hold close to my heart forever.

I knew that some days were going to be rough for me, and they were tough for me and he always just kind of just held me up and helped me out. I think it’s great seeing him back in the lineup too. It’s something I kind of shared with him that we could come back from injury and start playing well and get back on the ice doing what we love.

(FM:) Do you guys pay much attention to what’s going on in Anaheim or is there more of a focus on what you can control in San Diego?

(MJ:) We usually keep up-to-date with what’s going on there. We usually watch the games when they play and obviously we know when guys are going up or coming down, and obviously, you know what’s going on. Every single one of us wants to be there right, so you wanna keep tabs. But at the same time, you kinda have to stay in your own kinda situation. You don’t want to get too far ahead of yourself. It’s kind of a median where you’re in between the two.

(FM:) More specifically, a lot of fans aren’t happy with the start to the season and are calling to replace Randy Carlyle with Dallas Eakins. Is that something you guys ever focus on or just tune it out?

(MJ:) No, we just do our own thing. Most guys on the team, we’re the ones on the ice playing so we have to stay close and stay connected. We don’t really focus too much on what goes on with the fans or what they say or what they think.

It’s more kind of like we have to stay focused on ourselves to make sure we are producing, wins and points, and that sort of thing to keep the fans happy, and keep the coaches happy, and keep everyone happy. It starts with us, that’s what we have to stay focused on and our task at hand. We can’t get too distracted.

Q. With all the recent coaching news around the NHL, I’m fascinated to know what Dallas Eakins is like as a coach, now I don’t need you to go full Ottawa Senators in your opinions but just let us fans get an idea of his coaching style.

A. Dallas is a great coach. I remember two years ago when I came down for playoffs. I had never met him really before other than the camp, and never really been around him. He was very welcoming to me. When I started playing, he found out I was actually Ubering to the games and he lent me his car.

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So I had his car and I was driving to the games, and driving to the rinks for practice, and just the fact he actually lent me his car. I’ve never actually had that sort of connection to a coach before. It was pretty special and then coming out here now again, he’s very close with the team. Each guy knows where they stand with him, and I know where I stand with him every day and he’s a very welcoming guy.

Just his whole family, I mean I met his family just from going to team dinners. They are just great people. Just him as a coach, he knows how to handle certain players and knows how to coach certain players. I mean some guys get fired up, like I get really fired up sometimes on the bench and I need a little “calm down” sometimes, and he knows how to handle me and tells me how to relax a little bit.

He knows how to do the opposite for the guys who need a little kick in the butt to get going, and he knows how to coach each guy personally. I think that’s something that makes him stand out differently compared to other coaches. He does a great job at that. Every day on the bench it’s easy to play for him, like every day, day-in and day-out and on the ice in practice.

Max also briefly comments on the Anaheim Ducks retirement of Paul Kariya’s jersey and the Uber fiasco with the Ottawa Senators.

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Again, we would like to thank Max Jones for being a part of this interview. We look forward to seeing what you bring to the ice in San Diego and, hopefully in the near future, the Anaheim Ducks!