By Torie Peterson - Calgary Flames
TAMPA, FL -- Josh Jooris had a modest start to his professional career.
Coming off a three-year stint at Union College, the Burlington, ON native cobbled together an 11-goal, 27-point stat line in 73 games with the Abbotsford Heat in 2013-14. He did admirably, being deployed in a variety of situations and roles, but wasn't on the Flames radar in terms of a call-up.
That season, however, was just what the 24-year-old needed.
"I think it was critical," he mused. "I kind of underestimated the jump from college to pro and it’s a huge jump, everything: mentally, physically.
"It’s a way longer season and just getting that time, the whole year down there learning the speed of the play, the structure of the game, it’s just completely different. I think that it’s been huge for my development as a player."
Jooris took what he learned from the 2013-14 campaign and built off it over the summer, working on aspects of his game that he felt he needed to strengthen. He came into rookie camp in excellent shape and his energetic, in-your-face play carried him through right until the last set of cuts at main camp.
Just two games into the Adirondack Flames inaugural season, Calgary needed to summon a forward and Jooris was first in line for a call-up.
He met the team in Columbus, made his NHL debut against the Blue Jackets on Oct. 17, and ended up scoring his first NHL goal in the game.
Jooris has missed two games since his debut, one to injury (Oct. 19 vs. Winnipeg) and one as a healthy scratch (Oct. 31 vs. Nashville). Prior to the game he sat as a healthy scratch, the coaching staff sat him down and mentioned that his energy had dropped. They wanted him to use the game to recharge and get a different perspective.
The coaching staff placed him back in the lineup on Nov. 2 in Montreal and he responded with two goals against the Canadiens. He followed that effort up by assisting on the game-winner in Washington.
"Since we sat him in the stands, we’ve seen the same speed, the same relentless pursuit on pucks, on opponents. That’s how he opened our eyes at training camp," Bob Hartley said.
"I always call this the famous buzz. He’s on the puck. Stop and start. He’s right back. I think he’s playing a very similar game to Paul Byron right now and I like that. I feel that it’s very effective in our system."
While he was disappointed to be a healthy scratch back on Oct. 31, Jooris acknowledged the move was beneficial for his overall development.
"It’s a little kick in the butt I think when you get up top up there and you get a different view of the game. You can see where your time and space is. It’s definitely a different view from up top.
"I took it as a positive and didn’t really dwell on the fact I wasn’t in the lineup. I wanted to learn as much as I could from sitting out there. I think I did learn a lot and am applying it now."
With his play continuing to progress on a nightly basis, Hartley has given Jooris more ice time and placed him in different roles.
"He’s a good young man. He wants to do well. We don’t even have to go to him to show him video. He comes to us," Hartley stated.
"For a coaching staff, that’s very pleasant to see a young man who wants to learn, whose conscious of sometimes he’s making mistakes. When you’re a player and you make a mistake and you recognize it right away, I think it speaks a lot about your hockey sense. Josh Jooris, there’s willingness to learn, willingness to get better but also great hockey sense."