SUN Hockey Pool

A 'good, standup writer' gets his due

Edmonton Sun columnist Terry Jones poses with the giant Stanley Cup near Gateway Boulevard and 80...

Edmonton Sun columnist Terry Jones poses with the giant Stanley Cup near Gateway Boulevard and 80 Avenue in Edmonton, Alta., June 2, 2011. (PERRY MAH/QMI Agency)

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:25 PM ET

For a man they call 'Large,' the honour is as big as it gets.

Edmonton Sun sports columnist Terry Jones has been covering the Edmonton Oilers since their inception, and will be recognized for his years of service by being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

On Thursday, the Hall announced Jones as this year's recipient of the Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award for hockey journalism presented by the Professional Hockey Writers Association. He'll be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto at a luncheon in November.

"When I think of Jonesy, I think of the great game-day column," said PHWA president Kevin Allen. "He's been entertaining us all and Edmonton readers for years and years, by taking a single event from a game and turning it into an entertaining, layered column.

"Personally I think this is long overdue. Jonesy has been doing good work for a lot of years. I think this will be a very popular choice."

A native of Lacombe, Jones began writing hockey stories for his local weekly while still in junior high. He began his daily newspaper career with the Edmonton Journal in 1967, then moved to the Edmonton Sun in 1982.

During his time as a sports columnist, Jones has covered over 500 Stanley Cup playoff games, including all 251 played by the Edmonton Oilers.

He chronicled the team's five Stanley Cup triumphs and has written two books on Wayne Gretzky, who was one of the first to call and congratulate Jones on his induction.

"We were lucky to have a good group of guys covering the team like Terry Jones, Dick Chubey, Jim Matheson and Rod Phillips," said Gretzky. "We knew they had a passion and they wanted us to win because they were speaking front and centre for all the fans of Edmonton.

"They lived and died with every win and every loss. Terry was like that, he was definitely concerned when we lost and weren't doing well, and had tremendously high praise for the team and the individual when we were winning."

Jones credits the hockey gods for allowing him to cover a team as talented as the Oilers in the mid-1980s.

He's the 10th person associated with the club inducted into the Hall, joining Matheson, Phillips, Gretzky, Mark Messier, Jari Kurri, Paul Coffey, Grant Fuhr, Glen Anderson and Glen Sather.

"It was a pretty big time for a little team from Edmonton," Gretzky said. "You look at all the guys we had named into the Hall of Fame, and now to have Terry, Rod in, Jim in there as well, it speaks volumes about the city, the organization and the people associated with the club. That's what it's all about. It was a fun ride, a big ride."

To his colleagues, it is Jones's ability to pick out the distinguishing points of a story that set him apart.

For Jones, it's not always about what happed on the ice, as opposed to why it happened.

"Jonesy's strength was always 'What are they going to be talking about when they get up tomorrow morning'," said Sportsnet.ca columnist Mark Spector. "He matched his column with tomorrow morning's topic of the day better than any guy in the business.

"When you're a young writer who grew up in Edmonton, like I did, there were a couple of guys who you were honoured to get out on the road with, and it was Terry Jones and Cam Cole. When you were out there with Jonesy, you learned a whole bunch about how to cover hockey, how to manage your beat, what's a story and what's a column."

Along with that ability to recognize a story, Jones also has a knack for being in the right spot at the right time.

Most recently, he was the only member of the Edmonton media, not on the Oilers payroll, to get an interview with owner Daryl Katz following city council's vote to move forward on a new downtown area.

"He's the luckiest guy in the world," Matheson joked. "One day he was going to take a flight when Wayne Gretzky had his 51-game point streak going. He was sitting in the waiting room to get on the plane and low and behold, Joe DiMaggio is sitting in the waiting area. So he sidles up to Joe and asks him to compare Gretzky's streak to his 56-game hitting streak. So he was able to get a story that nobody else had."

Jones, Matheson and Phillips developed a strong friendship dating back to the Oilers days in the World Hockey Association.

It's fitting all three now share a place in the Hall of Fame.

"Terry is an icon in Canadian writing," said Phillips. "Terry is known coast-to-coast by sports fans. The fact that it's another guy from Edmonton, I think makes it that much more exciting for him and his family and all of his friends -and I would be included amongst those."

Jones was nominated for the award by Philadelphia writer Tim Panaccio. The two became friends during the Oilers meetings with the Philadelphia Flyers in a pair of Stanley Cup finals.

"I felt that Terry is one of these guys that people had forgotten about the role he played covering the Oilers during that time," said Panaccio. "I wanted to see him get in.

"The thing about Terry Jones, that I've noticed, is that he's a really good listener, which I think is key to being a great reporter."

Jones continues to cover the Oilers and the NHL for the QMI Agency.

He's the only western Canadian elected as a media honouree to both the Hockey Hall of Fame and the Canadian Football Hall of Fame.

"The thing about Jonesy is that he was always fair," said Kevin Lowe, the Oilers president of hockey operations. "There are some guys that tend to be vindictive just for the sake of being vindictive in the business.

"Jonesy would be firm with us, but he wanted to see us win as much as we wanted to win. He would always be pulling for Edmonton, but he would take us to task when we needed to be taken to task, which makes him a good, standup writer."

derek.vandiest@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/DerekVanDiest


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