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Oilers honour Jones at game

Edmonton Sun columnist Terry Jones was given an arena seat by the Oilers during an event to honor...

Edmonton Sun columnist Terry Jones was given an arena seat by the Oilers during an event to honor Jones at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alta., Nov. 30, 2011. (DAVID BLOOM/QMI Agency)

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:41 PM ET

EDMONTON - Terry Jones never figured a team he once referred to as ‘weak-kneed wimps’ would take time out to honour him.

Yet, even though the Edmonton Oilers never forgot the reference, the club acknowledged the Edmonton Sun columnist as having been an influential part of their history.

On Wednesday, the Oilers paid tribute to Jones for recently winning the Elmer Ferguson Award and having been selected in the Hockey Hall of Fame as a media honouree.

“We always knew in the dressing room that if we weren’t performing, we were going to hear about it and read about it from him,” said Kevin Lowe, the Oilers president of hockey operations. “There were times after we won some our (Stanley) Cups that we could let our hair down and really get to know him. I’ve got the good fortune of spending some time with Jonesy and seeing the person that he was.

“Most importantly the organization wanted to recognize and celebrate another outstanding Edmontonian.”

The Oilers hosted a luncheon for Jones, gave a pair of jerseys to his grandsons and honoured his years covering the team by giving him an arena seat.

Inscribed on the seat was the famous ‘weak-kneed wimps’ reference Jones used to describe the team in the early ’80s after bowing out of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Later Wednesday evening, Jones dropped the puck during a ceremonial face-off as the Oilers squared off against the Minnesota Wild.

“That’s one of the things about my career, is when I write something, I don’t necessarily think about how it’s going to play the next day and sometimes it comes back to bite me in the butt,” said Jones. “It’s been an adversary relationship with this organization, but it’s just been amazing what my eyes have watched just following this organization alone.

“The one thing I’ll always say about the Edmonton Oilers is that there is not a team in this league and in my mind, not a team in sports, that knows how to celebrate an accomplishment and do it with more class than this organization.”

Jones has covered the Oilers dating back to their World Hockey Association days. He’s seen every playoff game the club has ever played and was with them during all five of their Stanley Cup runs.

Among those attending the luncheon Wednesday were Lowe, Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini, head coach Tom Renney, former players Al Hamilton and Grant Fuhr.

“When you spend so much time together and you go through so much together, there is still a bond from all those guys back then,” Jones said.

While there has been a mutual respect between Jones and the Oilers throughout the years, the relationship has not always been symbiotic.

As a local columnist, Jones wanted to see the team succeed, but was not afraid to be critical of the club and individual players if they didn’t.

“There’s no doubt that athlete can be motivated by negative media,” said Lowe. “I think in some respects, that is where some of Jonesy’s cheerleading went on. He wanted the team do to well, so he used to take shots at us to try and jumpstart us.

“I really believe he did that at times. Nobody wants to read something negative about themselves, but over time, you learn to deal with it and you understand if you know the person, you knew it wasn’t personal. Having a long history with him, you know that he’d sooner write the good story than the bad story and that’s important.”

derek.vandiest@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/SUNdvandiest


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